DCC 2022 MLK Tournament

9:54am Monday, January 17th, 2022

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The Colorado chess old guard is being replaced by fresh blood

It is an honor for the Denver Chess Club to stage a yearly memorial chess tournament in tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. on his national holiday weekend. Reverend King put his life on the line - and ultimately gave his life - to make life better for people of African American descent. A repeated line in the United States national anthem is "... the land of the free and the home of the brave". Without question, Martin Luther King Jr. was brave in the truest sense of the word. His tireless effort for civil rights freed countless U.S. citizens from a life of segregation and second class status. 

One of Reverend King's main issues was voting rights for people of color. In his words - quoting from a Denver Post article by Terrance Carroll - "...it is proved that voting is more than a badge of citizenship and dignity - it is an effective tool for change." It is sadly ironic that in present day America, the Republican party is still trying every trick in the book to restrict the right to vote. I know this DCC tournament report is not the place for political comment, but I could quote MLK and say, "Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about the things that matter." Another MLK quote that I think applies to the current divided states of America is: "If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation, and this means we must develop a world perspective." Or at least a perspective of our own country. 


Lie Yixin's "Stone of Hope" granite sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr. will stand in the Washington D.C. National Mall till the end of time. 

So, with that uncalled for political comment out of the way, I'll get on with the 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial tournament report... It was fantastic. We set an MLK attendance record with a registration of 86 players.  The great attendance resulted in a nearly 3000 dollar totally awesome prize fund. 


It was just a fabulous attendance for the MLK.

The Premier section was strengthened by the presence of the McConnell brothers, along with NM's Brian Wall and Ray Haskins, and a slew of strong Experts and Class A players. I bet that most players assumed that Sullivan McConnell would take 1st place - in light of the fact that he is well on his way to getting an IM title - and they would have been wrong. Incredibly Sullivan actually finished out of the money in 4th place after giving up a round 3 draw to Eamon Montgomery and suffering a last round loss to Neil Bhavikatti. Neil played very well to finish in clear 1st place with 4.5 points and he won 600 dollars !!  


Neil Bhavikatti with the Black pieces against Vedanth Sampath

Eamon Mongomery (see diagram #6 below) and Griffin McConnell shared the combined 2nd and 3rd place prize with 4 points, and they each won 305 dollars !! In addition to his draw against Sullivan, Eamon also held NM Brian Wall to a draw. Besides winning big bucks, I would think Griffin might be even more pleased to have finished ahead of his brother, or maybe more happy about his big round 2 upset win over NM Haskins. In either case, Griffin has McConnell family bragging rights for a while :-)


Eamon Montgomery against "old guard" Brian Wall (diagrams #1, #3, #15, #16, and #16a)

Other notable Upsets in this section were soon to be Expert, Vedanth Sampath winning against both Brian Wall and Rhett Langseth (diagram#12), and also drawing Neil Bhavikatti. Evan Helman winning against NM Haskins. Christopher Motley won against Anthony Whitt and DuWayne Langseth. Sikandar Baker-Nagar held Keith Oxman to a draw (diagram #8). Quite a few of the players mentioned in this report are teenagers or younger. The Colorado chess old guard is being replaced by fresh blood, and that is as it should be. 


Navneet Ramkuma totally focused on the board. 

Another youngster, Navneet Ramkuma sits in 1st place atop the U1800 section. He crushed yours truly in the last round with a sound counterattack against my usual really dubious attack. I was consoled somewhat by the fact that the kid had also beat the strong Jeff Baffo in the previous round. Four wins and a 3rd round bye earned Navneet 470 dollars !!. Mr. Baffo took clear 2nd place with 4 points and won 280 dollars !!   

Five players shared the 3rd place prize of190 dollars !! DCC Tuesday night TD, Phil Brown (diagram #13), Andre Mancuso, Grayson Manual, (diagram#5) Sean Diab, and me (diagram #11). Yes, really. I finally once again won some money playing chess. I'm so happy ;-) We all finished with 3.5 points. All of Mr. Diab's points were big upset wins, and he only lost to Mr. Baffo in the last round. Had there been an Upset prize, it would have been won by Andrew Robichaud for his 3rd round win against Frederick Sadler (diagram #9). Absolutely proving you can't look at a player's rating and assume a win is the fact that: Laura Alonso, Jeff Nohrden, Calab Pena, Dean Brown and Robson Glasscock also had big >300 point rating difference upset wins. 


Abhiram Palle playing Black against Ziquiang Li

And yet another youngster, Abhiram Palle won the U1400 section with the only perfect score in the tournament. Five straight wins won Abhiram 400 dollars !! Ricky Marchant, Jeff Manual, and Kamron Correia shared the combined 2nd and 3rd place prize and each of these players won 133.33 dollars !! Surprisingly there was only one big upset game in this section. Sarvesh Rajesh won against the 537 point higher rated Jaxson Cardenas-Gunny in round 3. 


All the players that I don't know or recognize might be in this photo :-)

I admit I don't know or even recognize the names of some of the players that I've mentioned in this report. In a way that is a good thing, in that there are so many new players playing in DCC tournaments. Maybe, if we can ever drop the mask requirement, I will at least recognize faces. So even if I don't have any idea who you are :-) Congratulations on winning a DCC tournament prize check !! And yes, I've used too many double exclamation marks :-)

Also, let me say the DCC is truly sorry that due to the continuing danger of COVID, we are still not allowing players that cannot take the vaccine - due to a medical condition, or a religious belief - to play in DCC tournaments. This is especially exasperating when it's a young player who really wants to play live over the board tournament chess. We are erring on the side of caution, but still, it doesn't seem right when it's a kid we are not allowing to play. We know playing online is just not the same.   

The Games Section features games by Keith Oxman and Andrew Robichaud. They both uploaded all their 2022 MLK games to DCC Games. But of course, first we'll start out with a couple of Brian Wall games. 

8/pkp4p/4r3/2p4p/4P3/2P1K3/PP6/6R1 w - - 30 60
1) Turpana Molina vs. Brian Wall. Round 5. After 30...gxh5 the Super GM has a really ugly pawn structure, but it's Pawn Wave Guy with the Black pieces. Modest as ever, Brian says, "I can do magic with three Black rook pawns, most Chess players need three Queens for the same effect." :-)

2k5/p1p4p/4P3/2p2K2/8/2P5/PP4rp/7R w - - 38 76
1a) the same game.  In this position Brian says there is only one move to hold a draw. What would you play? See the answer below the last diagram.

2b2r1k/1p4qp/p1p5/2Pp3Q/5p2/1P2p2P/1P2RPPK/4R3 b - - 32 63
2) Christopher Motley vs. Brian Wall. Round 1. It is funny that when Brian played 32...f3 in this position forcing 33. gxf3 he thought that after 33...Rg8 there was no defense to mate next. What did he overlook and how did he win anyway? 

3r2k1/1b1pp1bp/pqn1p1p1/1p2Pr2/7Q/1B3NBP/PP3PP1/2RR2K1 w - - 21 42
3) Ted Doykos vs. Brian Wall. Round 3. Black has just played 21...Rf8-f5. What surprising move gives White a +5 advantage? See the answer below the last diagram.   

r4br1/2k3p1/1n1p1nNp/p2p3P/PppP1NP1/4BP2/1P6/2KR2R1 w - - 26 52
4) Keith Oxman vs. Nicholas Brummer. Round 1. After 26...Nd7-b6, it's White to move and win an exchange. 

4r3/3pkp1p/p1p4r/1p2Q3/3P3q/2NB4/PP5P/R6K b - - 24 47
5) Grayson Manuel vs. Andrew Robichaud. Round 1. in this position, after 24. Qh8-e5, Andrew offered his opponent a draw, that was accepted. Do you see how Black could have won a pawn, and maybe then the game?

2r2r1k/6pp/3NQ3/pp6/1P6/2q3P1/P4P1P/4R2K b - - 26 51
6) Keith Oxman vs Eamon Montgomery. Round 2. Here after 26. Ra1xe1, capturing a Knight, do you see the forcing moves that Mr. Montgomery played to win the game?  

N1b1kb1r/ppQ3pp/2nR4/2q5/4pp2/2B5/PP4PP/2K2B1R w - - 19 38
7) Andrew Robichaud vs. Nicholas Torres. Round 2. White to move. Find a Mate in 2. 

3r4/3P3p/1R6/6p1/8/7P/p1k3PK/8 w - - 54 108
8) Sikander Baker-Nagar vs. Keith Oxman Round 3. After a great back and forth game the players reached this position and called it a draw. Playing over the game it seemed to me that it was the higher rated and way more experienced Mr. Oxman that was having to find moves to not lose to the much lower rated youngster.

3r1rk1/p1p2pp1/1p1p3p/6q1/4Pn2/1B3P2/PPP2QPP/3RR1K1 b - - 20 39
9) Frederick Sadler vs. Andrew Robichaud. Round 3. In this position Black played 20...Kh8. Do you see a far better move? For a move or two after this position both players remained unaware of the snake in the grass. Do read Mr. Robichaud's note about this position in the game. I think we all have had a similar experience. 

2k5/1pp2p1p/1p2p3/4P2N/7P/P4P2/1P1b1K2/8 w - - 31 62
10) Don Wisdom vs. Keith Qxman. Round 4. After a Rook trade with 31...Bxd2 my superficial "B" player analysis concludes that the Bishop from here on outplays the Knight. Play over the game and observe Mr. Oxman's excellent technique.

r3k2r/1bq1bppp/p1n1p3/1p1n4/8/P2BBNNP/1PP2PP1/R2QK2R w KQkq - 13 26
11) Andrew Robichaud vs. J.C. MacNeil Round 4. After an exchange of pawns with 13...Nf6xd5 Mr. Robichaud played 14. O-O. Why was that a bad move? To his credit Mr. Robichaud played on and despite being down a whole piece had me sweating bullets, till I finally figured out how to force a Queen trade 16 moves later. 

2r3k1/pr2bpp1/1q5p/2p1R3/8/Q3B2P/P1P2PP1/R5K1 b - - 26 51
12) Keith Oxman vs. Rhett Langseth. Round 5. With 26. Rd5xe5 capturing a pawn, did Mr. Oxman just blunder an exchange to ... Bf6, or does he plan to play an exciting Queen and pawn against 2 Rooks ending? 

r3q1k1/p3p1n1/3p1r1p/nbpP1p2/5N1N/1P2P1P1/P2R1PBP/3QR1K1 b - - 21 41
13) Phil Brown vs. Andrew Robichaud. Round 5. In this difficult position for Black Mr. Robichaud played 21...Nh5. We all suffer from occasional chess blindness.

2r5/Q5P1/p2pP2p/4nk2/1p5q/5p2/PP3P2/1K4R1 w - - 39 78
14) Will Frazier vs. Turpana Molina. Round 3. Andrew Starr selected this game, and asks this question; "In this position, Black just played 39...Kxf5. What is the only move which wins for White? See Andrew's answer below.

And to wrap up this report, a couple more Brian Wall games from the 2022 MLK tournament.

1r1q1r2/2pb1pbk/p2p1n1p/2nPpNpP/4P1P1/2N1BP2/PP1QBK2/R1R5 b - - 19 37
15) Brian Wall vs. Eamon Montgomery Round 4. White has just played 19. Ng3-f5. NM Wall criticizes this move since it allows Black to break the bind with 19...Be7xf5. He was then even more disgusted with 20. exf5 instead of gxf5 because the Bg7 is freed when Black plays ...e4 a few moves later. I told him I would have automatically captured with the "g" pawn. Brian may have to hire me as a coach :-)

r3nrk1/1p1b1pbp/pq1Pp1p1/n1p1P1B1/P1P5/2N3N1/1P2B1PP/1R1Q1RK1 w - - 17 34
16) Brian Wall vs. Vedanth Sampath Round2. Instead of 18. Bf4? as played in the game, what is a winning move? See answers after the next diagram. 

8/8/5KP1/4p2n/3k4/8/1p6/1B6 w - - 71 142
16a) the same game.  After 71...Ng7-h5+ White has a choice of 72. Kg5 or Kf5. Lose or draw with your choice.

Brian Wall's answer to diagram #1a.
39 Rd1!  Rg1  40 e7  Rxd1  41 e8(Q)+    Kb7  42 Qb5+  Kc8 =, ... Ka8 =
39 Rd1!  Rg7! =, ... Rf2+! =, ... Re2! =, ... Kb7! =

and Brian's answer to diagram #3
22. Rxd7 !! if ...Rxd7 23. Bxe6+
After 22... Rxf3 (best move) 23. gxf3 Rxd7 24. Bxe6+ Kh8 25. Bxd7 White has won an exchange with a better position. Only to let it all slip away in time pressure later in the game. 

Andrew Starr's answer to diagram #14
40. Qf7+!! if 40...Nxf7, 41.exf7 and White gets a new queen. If 40...Qf6, 41. g8=Q and Black will have to sack his rook, leaving white up an exchange with great initiative.

Brian's answer to diagram #16. 
18. Be7 = 18. Bf6 wins.

and Brian's answer to diagram 16a.
72. Kf5 draws. The natural 72. Kg5 loses to ...Nf4 and the pawn can't advance due to 73...Ne6+

Thanks again to all,
J.C. MacNeil

Last Modified: 1/22/2022 at 12:53am Views: 840