So, now that I'm done preaching to the choir...
I thought the heading photo by Tima Miroshnichenko was an artistic representation of the rise of interest in chess. When the Chess.com servers crash due to so many people trying to join the site - something like doubling their membership overnight - it's a sure sign that Americans are realizing what the rest of the world has known for centuries. Chess is a worthwhile endeavor. The pandemic left people looking for something to do online, and if ever a game was made for the internet, chess is it. Then the Queen's Gambit movie sparked more interest, and chess podcasts have always been interesting and entertaining. Ask any of Sara Herman's thousands and thousands of followers.
And this John Brezina photo shows the popularity of chess at the recent Tata Steel tournament.
The simplicity of how the pieces move and the object of the game means anyone can learn how to play and unlike other sports, physical strength and agility are not required. For men, women, and children of all ages, chess is a level playing field. Also, not much equipment is required, or even no equipment. I remember a scene in the Queen of Katwe movie where they were playing chess with stones and bottle caps for pieces, on a board scratched in the dirt.
None of that here. The Tata steel organizers provide everything.
What makes the game enduring is despite its simplicity to learn, when to move which piece where, remains to this day, perplexing. Every move after your opponent's move presents choices, and as we all know, you can go from winning to losing in one move. At the same time, making a winning move against a strong player is intellectually stimulating and thrilling, when you see on their face that your move was not expected, and they suddenly put their head in their hands and try to find some way to save the game. The emotional thrill of anticipated victory is pleasing. Because it was all you, and you alone that won the game. No lucky draw of a card made a straight flush, there were no seven come eleven dice rolls. Discounting material losing blunders from an opponent, winning means you played better and won the game. So, now that I'm done preaching to the choir :-) on to the DCC January tournaments prize winners.
Not quite comparable to Tata Steel, but a nice increase in attendance for Round 1 of the DCC February Thursday night tournament.
The DCC Thursday night attendance increased significantly for round 1 of the February tournament, with a registration of 37 players. Also encouraging is we continue to see new USCF tournament chess players pretty much weekly. DCC President, Brian Wall, expects a continuing rise in attendance, and I'm getting optimistic myself :-) In the January Thursday night Premier section, DCC Vice President, Juan Brenes held Daniel Herman to a round 2 draw, and both players ended up with 3.5 points. They share the combined 1st and 2nd place prize of 155 dollars and 6 cents.
Juan Brenes (w) vs. Daniel Herman (b)
The 3rd place prize went to Matthew Wofford, Liis Jimenez, and Kristopher Zelkin. They each won 22 dollars and 15 cents with only 1.5 points. Mr. Wofford had a round 3 bye and upset NM Richard Shtivelband in the last round to also win the 20 dollar Premier Upset prize. Mr. Zelkin held Luis to an upset draw in round 3, and that along with a forced 1 point bye in the last round was enough to share the prize money. I guess it could be said that Mr. Jimenez is more deserving of his share since he played all 4 rounds. only losing to the much higher rated Daniel Herman and Juan Brenes.
Kristopher Zelkin (w) vs. Luis Jimenez (b)
In the Thursday night U1600 and Unrated section, Lev Shulman took 1st place with a perfect 4-0 score - that included a big upset win against Alex Barraza - and won 88 dollars and 60 cents. Mr. Barazza and Tim Liu, each finished with 3 points and they share the combined 2nd and 3rd place of 99 dollars and 68 cents. Tyler Poole and Andrew Beuche, both finished with 2 points and they share the U1300 prize of 33 dollars and 64 cents. Mr. Beuche had a nice 263 point upset win against Abhijay Balamurugan. Wyatt Miller won the 20 dollar Unrated prize, and Sofiia Gainullina won the 20 dollar Upset prize for her huge 488 point win against Glen Holguin in round 2.
Andrew Bueche (b) vs. Daniel Megahn (w)...
...and Sofiia Gainullina (b) vs. Kaavya Sakthisaranan (w)
In the Tuesday night Premier section, it was Daniel Herman (see diagrams #1 thru #9 below) and Juan Brenes taking the top two prizes, just as they did in the Thursday tournament. They each ended up with 4 points and each player won 105 dollars and 68 cents. Surprisingly in round 1, Mr. Herman suffered a 413 point upset loss to Daniel Marmer but bounced back to win 4 in a row. Mr. Brenes was upset in round 2 by Christopher Motley but earned his share of the money by winning against the strong Expert, Rhett Langseth in the last round. Mr. Langseth, Mr. Motley, and Mr. Marmer all finished with 3 points, and they share the 52 dollar and 83 cents 3rd place prize. In addition, Mr. Marmer also won the 30 dollar Best Upset Prize, and Mr. Motley also won the 20 dollar Honorable Mention Upset prize.
In the foreground, Rhett Langseth (w) vs. Juan Brenes (b). Other board is Daniel Herman (b) vs. Chris Motley (w)
Mr.'s Herman, Marmer, Motley, Langseth, along with Shirley Herman, are all making the drive to Denver to play competitive games at the DCC. I, and the DCC are pleased to have these strong players playing regularly at both DCC locations. Thank y'all very much, even if you are taking most of the prize money from Denver players :-)
Jacob Zarin with the White pieces and yours truly with my head in my hands having no idea what to do :-)
In the Tuesday night U1900 section, Kristopher Zelkin won the 1st place prize of 127 dollars and 46 cents when he completely outplayed yours truly in the last round. Mr. Zelkin only gave up a draw to Abhijay Balamurugan in round 1, then won 4 in a row. Tying for the combined 2nd and 3rd place prize was Ricardo Bogaert, Jeff Nohrden, Turner Browne, and Phineas Hagg. They all ended up with 3.5 points and each player won 31 dollars and 87 cents.
In the foreground, Archer Murane (b) vs. Ricardo Bogaert (w). Other board is Jeff Nohrden (b) vs. Cole Strong (w).
There were upset galore in this section. The 30 dollar Best Upset prize was won by Dan Nolan for his 458 point last round win against Mark Fischer. Thomas Zanger won the 20 dollar Honorable Mention Upset prize for his 410 point round 3 win over Matthew Stizman. Other notable upset wins were made by Darshan Satishkumar, a 366 rating point difference against Bill O'Neil. Paul Kulback had a nice 269 point win against Richard Feit. Phineas Hang upset both the real strong Jeff Nohrden and Drew Tuck.
I failed to get individual photos of some prize winners. So, I'm resorting to room shots. I am not going to make any excuses other than, what can I say?
The Tuesday night U1500 section was won by Tyler Poole. 4 wins and a Round 3 bye put Mr. Poole in 1st place and put 127 dollars and 46 cents in his pocket. Mike Henchen finished in 2nd place with a 3.5 point final score and won 76 dollars and 48 cents. Vedant Ratnakar, Rocky Aliberti, Zach Peters, and Landon Hershey all finished with 3 points and each player won 12 dollars and 45 cents.
Hopefully some of the players mentioned can be spotted.
Max Miguel only played the last round but he goes home with the 30 dollar Best Upset prize for his 608 point last round win against Tom Needham. The 20 dollar Honorable Mention Upset prize was won by Matthew Konerth for a 498 point win over Jeff Manuel. He also had a big upset win against Tanay Kataru, who in turn upset Roger Morris. DCC Secretary Madeleine Finch's younger brother, Brandt, and Don Henry also won against much higher rated players.
Maybe next month I'll do a little better with the pictures, or maybe not :-)
In addition to our Tuesday and Thursday night tournaments, and to take advantage of the generosity of the Aurora Library system - which is offering the DCC a free playing site - the DCC intends to have a series of U1800 events scheduled at the Hoffman Branch. Quoting Richard Shtivelband: "And we already have a second date booked at Hoffman for Saturday April 1st, but the format of this event has not been determined yet. Depending on the feedback we get on the first event, we'll make adjustments for the 4/1 event. If the events prove to become popular with the community, we hope to make it an ongoing series!" Guaranteed prize fund: 1375 dollars!! Think of this as an opportunity for lower rated players to win significant prize money. In addition to supporting the DCC efforts to expand USCF rated tournament playing opportunities. Brian Wall also intends to schedule events at the Hoffman library. In my mind, the more chess playing opportunities the DCC provides to players can only be a good thing.
I did manage to get a photo of Evan, one of our regular casual chess players.
Congratulations to all the prize winners. Thanks to everyone who is playing at either DCC location. If DCC President, Brian Wall has his way, we may try to open a third location in west Denver to better serve players in that area. Also plans are in the works to make the 2023 Denver Open bigger and better than ever.
Speaking of NM Wall, everyone was glad to see him out of the hospital and back at the DCC, doing what he does best. Luis Jimnez, the DCC Treasurer, is to Brian's right. (see diagrams #10 thru #12)
Again, we'll start out the Games section with several excellent Daniel Herman games. Followed by a few Brian Wall games, and then what NM Wall says "is one the best Colorado chess game ever." (see diagram #13)
1) Daniel Herman vs. Daniel Marmer. Round 1. Tuesday. In this position Mr. Herman says, "My first loss of the year to a fellow Colorado Springser who shares the same name. I achieved an essentially winning position from the opening, but Marmer muddied the waters with 15...Rxe4+, after which one of the interpositions wins and the other takes me from better to worse. I assumed they were both winning but the one I chose quickly lands me in a world of hurt." Which move is worse,16. Be2 or 16. Ne3? See Daniel's answers to this and the following diagrams after diagram #11.
2) Luis Jimenez vs. Daniel Herman. Round 3. Tuesday. Mr. Herman credits his opponent by saying, "A long hard grind of an effort to take down the new DCC treasurer. After a handful of missed chances to maximize my advantage and gritty defense by my opponent, the game should be a draw." In this position after 42...Ra4-e4, can White play 43. Ra6xa5. If not, why not?
4) Daniel Herman vs. Rhett Langseth Round 4. Tuesday. Quoting Mr. Herman, "Rhett is my most-played opponent if not for my sister who edges him out by one game. This is definitely my favorite game of the month. While it is full of errors from both sides, it is fun to look at to see the value of the quality of pawns (my d pawn) outweigh the number of pawns (his a and b pawns). An illustration of quality vs quantity." I believe this is the position that backs up that statement. Go to the game and enjoy excellent endgame technique.
5) Christopher Motley vs. Daniel Herman. Round 4. Tuesday. Daniel says " In my third game this month with Chris Motley (yes I played 3 whole classical games with the same guy in one month and it wasn't a match.)" In this early opening position after 8. Bc1-e3, what moves prompts Mr. Herman to say "I blow him out of the water with...". With what?
6) Daniel Herman vs. Kristopher Zelkin Round 1. Thursday. Daniel criticizes his last move, 27. Rd5-f5. by saying, "I give my opponent a chance to claw his way back in the game." Black replied with 27... g6. What would have been a better move?
7) Juan Brenes vs. Daniel Herman. Round 2. Thursday. Daniel says this is: "A sharp and interesting game with Juan, where he misses a win. After 23...Nd5?? it is white to move and win". Both players overlooked the best move. Instead of 24. Rhg2 as played, what is a much better move?