US Class 2014

The last two years I missed the Halloween party, last year was for the simple reason that I was not able to find a party to go to, this year the reason for missing this awesome celebration was a bit more substantial, I had to play the US Class tournament. After MC was done I had two weeks to regain my strength and try to stay in shape for the upcoming tournaments. Finding constancy in chess is not an easy task, I could say that in past years that was my biggest problem, always following a series of good tournaments with disasters that were throwing me back sometime more than 20 rating points. I have a few reasons to believe that this will not happen as often as it used to anymore.

There were three possible schedules to choose from, the 3-day, the 2-day and the 2 ½ day schedule. I chose to play in the 3 day schedule as I am enjoying slower time controls, and the 2-day schedule was not fide rated. The first round I got paired against a very talented junior, he forced me to grind a 4 hour win and got me down to the last few minutes on the clock. In my mind I was going to have an easy first round and hopefully get some free hours before next round, but this was definitely not the case. Nowadays everybody can play good chess, the difference will very often be made in the 3rd or 4th hour of play where the position gets complicated and all the extra possibilities will provoke the weaker player to err. Another reason why the physical preparation is so important! Second round I got paired against my friend and weekend roommate, Tatev Abrahamyan. Tatev was coming after a long chess break and I knew she is a bit rusty, but I clearly didn’t expect an easy game. I got the better side of a Benoni as white but was unable to convert, and actually allowed her to get a better position in the end. Result was a draw and the first day ended on a fairly poor 1.5/2. The second day followed the same scenario, I win my morning game against a 2200 and drew my night game against GM Sevillano. This was a fairly uneventful draw, he chose a very simple and quiet line of the Ruy Lopez, I was able to get a slight edge but too small to do anything and we decided to call it a day after a fairly forced move repetition. At this point in the tournament there were already a lot of player with 3p/4 and I knew that if I wanted to win the event I would have to win both my games on the 3rd and final day (see games below). As I was expecting, on the 5th round I got paired against the strong FM Arun Sharma. In our latest encounter he managed to beat me after a poor game by me. Despite the fact that my loss occurred in a 30 minute rapid game, I really wanted to revenge it. He managed to surprise me with his opening choice and I soon started to try and remember my ancient preparation. Fortunately I managed to steer the game into a different line than what he extensively prepared and slowly but surely outplayed my opponent with precise moves. Second game of the day was against IM Bryant John. I saw Bryant play in a lot of tournaments and his game was always genuine and quite interesting. He is also a very volatile player, I watched him beat 2600+ but also lose against much weaker opponents. After a quite adventurous lunch (we were not allowed to get back to the playing hall area due to the football match that was taking place close to the convention center) I arrived 30 minutes late for my game. My opponent offered a quick draw on 3rd move but I declined it since it was the only chance to fight for clear 1st place. I slowly built a large advantage on the black side of a Giocco Pianno and managed not to blow it up in time trouble, like it usually happens. This allowed me to successfully end my Californian tournaments, with 3 first places out of 4 tournaments. A complete success, I hope to maintain the positive trend and slowly but surely get a better understanding of how chess should be played.

Next I will be returning to Dallas for the very strong UTD Open. This will be my last tournament before my imminent return to Europe for some more tournaments, as well as some quality time with my family and friends.

Chirila vs Sharma
Bryant vs Chirila