Monday, June 12, 2006

Las Vegas Masters


Black to play and win.

Several New Jersey players (including Steve Stoyko, Ed Allen, and Dean Ippolito) are participating in the Las Vegas Masters FIDE rated tournament that runs from June 10-14 at the Schoolhouse Chess Center. The tournament website is excellent and includes live broadcasts, complete PGN file of games, and a daily bulletin (Rounds 1-2 and Rounds 3-4 so far). I have put three of the more interesting NJ player games online in a java applet.

The key to success in these tournaments is to play carefully and wait for your opponent to slip up. Overly risky or aggressive play is usually punished. Steve Stoyko told me this long ago, so it is something he knows well. But before he left for Las Vegas, Steve revealed that his tournament strategy was to do the opposite -- taking risks and playing aggressive chess to put his opponents to the test. So far his opponents have passed the test and that strategy has (predictably) backfired. In the first round, Steve got easy equality out of the opening as Black but decided to go for a kingside attack that left his pawns overextended on that wing and his own King exposed. In the second round, he made a speculative piece sac that his opponent defended against precisely to win. After losing his first two games, Stoyko made day two a rest day, taking quick draws (including one against Ed Allen) to regain his footing.

Ed Allen has demonstrated a more careful strategy, which should have paid off for him in his second round game. Ed played the opening conservatively as Black, taking no risks, and got into an interesting Rook ending where he could demonstrate his excellent technique, which should have won for him (see diagram above).

Well-known NJ chess instructor Dean Ippolito, meanwhile, has played carefully to hold the draw in every game, waiting for his opponent to make a mistake. He drew in rounds 1-3 but finally got a win in Round 4. It looks like he has a good tournament going and I may look at some of his games more closely in the coming days.

Best of luck to all our players--at chess and at cards!

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