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Penn & Brown Win Inter-Ivy League Tourney Print E-mail
By Matthew Michaelides   
February 27, 2013
Earl-Hall_Columbia.jpgThis past weekend, players gathered in New York City to play in the Third Annual Inter-Ivy League Chess Tournament. Hosted for the third year in a row by the Columbia University Chess Club, the event was held at Earl Hall right on the Columbia University Campus.

While unfortunately, players from Princeton, Yale, and Cornell were unable to attend the event, there was no scarcity of exciting chess! Rather, the G/30 time control made for some unpredictable and oftentimes amusing results. In the end, Brown and the University of Pennsylvania’s A-teams tied for first with 3.5/4.0 after drawing in the 3rd round.

Perhaps one of the results that might fall more in the ‘amusing’ category was the second round defeat of Columbia’s A-team by Columbia’s B-team. Before the tournament, Columbia’s dominance of the field with 5 of the 12 registered teams had led the TDs to not implement team protections in the pairings. Alas, this proved unfortunate for the home team. After a piece blunder on Board 1 by IM Victor Shen (2527) and time-pressure-induced difficulties on Boards 2 and 4 by IM Rusudan Goletiani (2303) and yours truly, Columbia B emerged victorious.

In the meantime, Brown A and Penn A were able to make quick work of their early opponents. Here is a first-round demolition of Harvard’s Benjamin Ascherman (1853) by Brown’s first board Erdentugla Rentsen (2445). Rentsen missed 14. e5!, forcing Nd5 with Nh5 and Qg4 soon to follow, but was still able to clean up after Black’s big mistakes on moves 19, 24, and 27.

As a result, at the start of the third round, three teams led with 2-0 each: Brown A, Penn A, and Columbia B. Round 3 would see Penn A play Brown A with Columbia B pairing down to Penn B. But Columbia A would not be the only team to suffer at the hands of the G/30 menace! Penn’s Alisa Melekhina achieved the following position as Black against Erdentugla Rentsen.


White had been better earlier (although, in all fairness, probably never winning), but clearly it seemed as if a draw was all but certain. There are many ways for Black to draw, but in time pressure Melekhina did not select one of them. After 1 … Kh4, 2. Kf4 Rf2+, 3. Ke5 Rh2, 4. Kf4 Rf2+, 5. Ke3 Rh2, 6. Rb8 Black played the unfortunate 6. … Rxh3+??, falling into White’s only trap. After 7. Ke3, checkmate or loss of the Black rook was inevitable, and Black was forced to resign. As a consequence, the result of the match turned from a 2.5-1.5 victory for Penn to a 2-2 tie.

This result gave we Columbians some hope that we might actually emerge victorious in the end. Columbia (3-0) B had won their 3rd round match-up with Penn B and would play Penn A (2.5 – 0.5), while Columbia A (2-1) would play Brown A (2.5 – 0.5). If both matches were draws, we would win the title with our B Team! Unfortunately for the hosts of the tournament, both of our teams got solidly crushed 3-1, leading to a tie for first place between Penn A and Brown A (3.5 – 0.5 each).
While Columbia student Kola Adeyemi (2198) put up a good fight after a bad opening against Alisa Melekhina (2303) and Abby Marshall (2193) went into a comfortable endgame against Kasun Waidyaratne(2254), in the end they both came up short. The Board 3 fighting battle between Matt Horwitz (2054) from Columbia and Zach Weiner (2147) ended in a draw, as did the more restrained Board 4 match-up between and Jennie Liu (2019) of Columbia and Peter Hess (2002) of Penn. 

In the end, while we Columbians didn’t exactly get the result for which we were hoping, we all had a great time. A big thanks to all of the Ivy Leaguers who played in the event, our tournament directors Efthymiou Papageorgiou and Andrew Ryba, and to Matt Horwitz, Jennie Liu and the other members of the Columbia University Chess Club Executing Board who helped in making the tournament a great success!

Below is an interesting and exciting last-round battle between Brown’s Michael Thaler (2336) and Columbia’s IM Rusudan Goletiani (2338) that was played on Board 2 of the Penn A – Columbia A match. Enjoy!

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d3 Nc6 4.g3 d6 5.Bg2 g6 6.0–0 Bg7 7.c3 e5 8.a3 Nge7 9.b4 a6 10.Be3 b6 11.Nbd2 0–0 12.Rb1 Kh8
Waiting moves like Qc2 and Re1 probably make more sense. Forcing the issue with a4 allows Black to equalize.
 13.a4 cxb4 14.cxb4 d5 15.b5 axb5 16.axb5
16... d4 is also quite possible and perhaps even better. After 17. bxc6 dxe3 18. fxe3 Qxd3, Black appears to be in good shape.
 16...Na5 17.d4 dxe4 18.Nxe5 f5 19.f3 Nd5 20.Qe1 exf3 21.Ndxf3 Bb7 22.Qd2 Nxe3 23.Qxe3 Bd5 24.Ng5?! Nc4!
A good find by Goletiani. This forces some exchanges, taking White's pressure off.
25.Nxc4 Bxc4 26.Rfd1 26...Ra2 27.d5 Qd7?! 28.Qf4
28.Qxb6 f4 29.Qe6; 28.d6 is unclear
28...Rxg2+!? would have been an interesting try. There would follow: 29.Kxg2 Bxd5+ 30.Kg1 h6 with approximately equal chances. I tend to like Black's chances given Black's nice pair of bishops. The game continuation would have been well met by Rd2.
29.Rd2 Rxd2 30.Qxd2 Re8 31.d6
29...Bd3! 30.Rb4 Rc8

30.Bf3 is a more solid move. Rc7 allows a nice exchange sacrifice that gives Black plenty of compensation. Both players were already very short on time at this point.
A very thematic and natural move in such an open position. Now, Black's bishops dominate and soon the tables are reversed. White's king is very open all of a sudden.
31.Kxg2 Qxd5+ 32.Nf3?
But this allows Qa2+! In time pressure, Black missed it. Still, Black is much better in this position because of her active pieces and relatively safe king.
32...Qa2+–+ 33.Nd2 Rd8 34.Rd1 Ba4
33.Rbc1 Be5 34.Qh4 Bxc7 35.Rxc7 Bd7?
Another miss by Goletiani. 35 ... Qa2 leads to forced mate. [35...Qa2+ 36.Kh1 (36.Kh3 Bf1#; 36.Kg1 Qa1+ 37.Kg2 Qf1#) 36...Qa1+ 37.Ng1 Qa8+
36.Qf6+ Kg8 37.Qxb6 Re2+ 38.Kh3 f4+
38...Qxf3! This leads to forced mate instantly. 39.Qb8+ Be8–+
39.Rxd7 Qxd7+ 40.g4 Re3 41.Qb8+ Kg7 42.Qxf4 Qd3 43.Kg3 Qe4 44.Qc7+ Qe7 45.Qxe7+ Rxe7
And Black went on to win the endgame. 0–1

Matthew Michaelides is a sophomore at Columbia College and is the President of the Columbia University Chess Club. For more information about the Columbia University Chess Club, visit their website or email at [email protected]