CalChess State Championship, a messy rollercoaster

There was not a lot of time to rest or relax after my moving hustle that has been the norm for the past few weeks. I had to remember that I’m a chessplayer in profession and that I have to do what I do best, and that’s playing the game. After my last tournament I was quite curious if I could maintain my fairly good form and perform at a high level. Living in a new state, I also wanted to avoid making a fool of myself among quite a big and new chess crowd and be labeled as the weak GM that just came in town to get his ass whipped. So motivation, there was plenty, now I had to deliver. Luckily, I sensed that I’m in good shape from the first round of the tournament, my calculation was sharp and I was able to demolish my opponent, who was not a weak one ( qualified once for the US Champ), in only 20 something moves. The second round took place in the same day, and normally it was a more difficult task. I played the white side of a KID and completely forgot my analysis, luckily I did make my way through the maze and managed to find the best way to get an advantage, after that my opponent slowly succumbed to the pressure and I finished the first day undefeated. Me and my roommate we returned home and called it a day after a few beers and a nice Chipotle meal, the atmosphere was quite joyous because we both started with 2/2.

Second day the history repeated for me, the first round I took advantage of a failed King’s gambit from my opponent, and later managed to win without much trouble the game against GM Jesse Kraai (author of the only chess novel, Lisa- I succeeded to surprise him and got a nice advantage out of the opening, he did help my task by blundering early on and having to play the rest of the game without a piece.

20...Re2? can you spot the refutation

Position after 20…Re2??, can you spot why his idea doesn’t work?

So far so good, I was on 100% and felt that I could emulate what Caruana was doing in the Sinquefield Cup, the only difference being that my opponent’s average rating was slightly lower than his, but that’s just an unimportant detail. Unfortunately for me the 5th round came with great vengeance and furious anger (Samuel L. Jackson famous bible quote from Pulp Fiction), and brought with it one of those moments of “I will quit chess right here and now”.

Barbosa blunder

Position before my ridiculous blunder, can you guess what I played as black?

You can see below the full analysis of that game and drag your own conclusions. After losing the round and the lead, I was paired against another tricky GM, Mark Paragua from the Philippines. I managed to pull myself together and delivered quite a strong performance to beat him and tie for first place with my previous round victor, winning the trophy on tiebreak. Overall it was a great tournament, and extremely useful preparation for the upcoming Millionaire Chess. Despite the fact that I am satisfied with my level of play, I hope to improve upon it in the upcoming month and be ready for the fierce competition that awaits in Vegas. Before that I will be mostly training and hopefully give a few simuls and exhibitions around the Bay area. I will leave you with some in depth analysis of my games versus GMs from this tournament, as well as some photos from today’s hiking on the hills around the house.



CalChess games
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