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Kannappan Wins Thanksgiving Open in STL Print E-mail
By Andy Primm & GM Ronen Har-Zvi   
December 11, 2013
Priya325.jpgA total of 78 players turned out for the 2013 Thanksgiving Open at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. The event featured several titled players incluidng GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez, WGM Anna Sharevich, IM Priyadharshan Kannappan, IM David Recuero Guerra and many more. Besides the titled players, many players from St. Louis’ own Lindenwood chess team participated, as well as a group of students that travelled all the way from Memphis, Tenn.! Up for grabs was more than $1,000 in prizes, and also a free lesson with GM Ronen Har-Zvi for the winners of the brilliancy and biggest upset prizes in each section. The two-day, five-round, three-section, G/115 event showcased superb play, back-and-forth action, and an altogether highly entertaining competition.

The tournament began on Saturday morning at 10:15 a.m. on an unusually warm day for early December in Saint Louis. One of the biggest upsets of the tournament came in the first round when NM Spencer Finegold suffered a loss at the hands of Jonathan Schrantz, who was rated nearly 400 points lower than Finegold. Schrantz’ win scored him both the biggest upset and brilliancy prizes for the Open section. In a twist of fate, this upset was Schrantz’ only win of the tournament.

Perhaps the most clearly instructive game of the tournament was a round one miniature between Fred Smith and Owen Bitting in the U1400 section: 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. h4 h5 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nxe4 6. Nxe4 d5 7. Qe2 Bf5 8.Nf6#. Many of us have lost games to a similar mating pattern, so we can certainly commiserate with the pain of such a quick defeat! Smith won both the brilliancy and biggest upset prizes in the U1400 section for the victory.

The first day proceeded smoothly and, at the end of round three, IM Kannappan and WGM Sharevich sat tied atop the open section with three wins apiece. Jim Davis and Behrooz Vakil were tied with perfect 3/3 scores in the U1800 section, while Harold Hadman and Aidan Carey were both perfect in the U1400 section. When play finally ended at nearly 11 p.m. on Saturday night, the last of the players went home to get some much-needed rest before the final two rounds on Sunday.

Between rounds, many players took the opportunity to visit the World Chess Hall of Fame across the street, currently showcasing an avant-garde fashion exhibit, A Queen Within, based around the queen’s importance in chess and history. The Hall of Fame also features an exhibit on chess promoter and player Jacqueline Piatorsky, organizer of the famous ‘63 and ‘66 Piatagorsky Cups in which several past and future world champions played.

The pleasant weather held through the weekend as players returned for round four on Sunday morning. The last two rounds saw exciting play in every section, with several last-minute comebacks Sunday afternoon. GM Jimenez battled back from a round three loss to Sharevich to score wins in both rounds four and five, while Sharevich suffered a loss in round four to Kannappan. IMGuerra, trailing 2.5 after round one, scored a win in round four against expert Sanjay Ghatti and made a crucial draw against the rock-solid Kannappan in round five.

Kannappan emerged as the ultimate victor in the Open Section, in clear first with 4.5/5, and took home the $600 prize for first place. Sharevich, Guerra, and Jimenez, each with 4/5, split the prize for second, while WIM Inna Agarest, Alex Vergilisov, Frank Smith, Hanson Hao, Tian Lu Peng, and Sanjay Ghatti split the third place prize with 3.0 each.

In the U1800 section, Davis continued his lead from day one, making a draw in round four and a win in round five for clear first with 4.5/5, enough to bag the $250 prize for first place. Vakil and Mansumeet Singh split the prize for second. Davis’ only draw of an otherwise perfect tournament was to Vakil, and Vakil’s only draws were to Davis and Singh (Singh took a half point bye in the first round). The biggest upset prize went to Manish Rangan for his round one win against Tyler Tompkins, while the brilliancy prize went to Singh for a beautiful rook sacrifice leading to checkmate against Pete Immer in round two.

Harold Hadman dominated the U1400 with the only perfect 5/5 result of the tournament, earning him the $200 first-place prize. A three-way tie for second resulted between Aidan Carey, Ben Boaz, and Bayaan Hollis, each with 4/5, and they split the prize. All three players lost only one game, winning the rest.

The Thanksgiving Open has become one of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center’s biggest annual open events, and this year’s fantastic turnout is no exception. As chess continues to grow in Saint Louis with superb collegiate teams and strong local club players, it seems inevitable that next year’s tournament will see a bigger, stronger field than ever!

GM Ronen Har-Zvi annotates two upsets from the tournament.


An interesting game, with one important message for all the lower rated players - if you tell yourself, I do not want to play tactics, complicated against a higher opponent, what do you want to play???? Do you think you are better, beating a 400 player opponent because you understand chess better than him? play endgame better than him? have more experience? NOT REALLY, you best shot, is with complication, tactics, pressure and dynamic chess, this game, and to some extent the following game are a clear prove for that
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.Bg2 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 a5


A line played by many of the best players, black wants to have a dynamic game, keeping the pawn, and seeing what white has, as opposed to the solid dxc4 with Qc2–Qxc4 - a6–b5 , where the game is mostly very drawish.
7.Qc2 Bxd2+ 8.Qxd2 c6 9.a4 b5 10.Na3 (10.axb5 cxb5 11.Qg5) 10...Bd7 There is nothing better than this awkward move, which places the bishop in the way of its colleagues. 11.Ne5 1–0 (32) Anand,V (2787)-Topalov,V (2805) Sofia 2010; 7.Nc3 0–1 (38) Carlsen,M (2810)-Kramnik,V (2788) Wijk aan Zee 2010
A bit too fast, white will go after black's advanced pawns on the Queen side right way, the simply 0–0 seems like the right move for black 7...0–0 8.Bg5 Ivanchuk,V (2740)-Alekseev,E (2711)/Foros 2008/CBM 125/[Marin,M] (1–0, 53) 8...b5 9.a4 bxa4 10.Ne5 Ra7 11.Rxa4 Bb7 12.Bxb7 Rxb7 13.Nc3 h6 14.Bxf6 Qxf6 15.Nxc4 Rd8 16.Nxa5 Bxa5 17.Rxa5 Nc6 18.Rb5 Rxb5 19.Nxb5 Nxd4 20.Nxd4 Qxd4 1/2–1/2 (20) Grischuk,A (2779)-Mamedyarov,S (2753) Khanty-Mansiysk RUS 2013
8.a4 c6?
This move, can actually be a decisive mistake, believe this or not, can you see why? [8...Bxd2 9.Nfxd2! The heart of white's play, amazing that many strong players have missed this idea 9...Ra7 (9...c6 10.axb5 Qxd4 11.Na3 And white is winning: 1–0 (25) David,A (2585)-Brunello,S (2455) Kallithea 2008) 10.axb5 Qxd4 11.Qa4 Bd7 12.Nxc4 And white seems winning: 1/2–1/2 (21) Krallmann,M (2259)-Rombaldoni,D (2495) Vienna 2011.
Not this way, the big idea is to take on b5, black cannot take back because of the many pins, and then the big idea for white Nfxd2! [9.axb5! Bxd2 (9...cxb5 10.Bxb4 c3) 10.Nfxd2! Qxd4 11.Na3 Transposes to the games mentioned above, white just seems winning.
9...0–0 10.Qb1 Qb6
So now we are in a fully normal game again
11.Rd1 Bb7 12.e4 Nbd7
This seems ok, but I would prefer 12...h6, not allowing Ng5 at all
13.e5 Nd5 14.Ng5 g6 15.Qe4 Kg7
A very interesting idea for black, and a better on then the move played would be 15...Be7, having the dark color Bishop back, support with the battle against the dark squares [15...Be7]
16.Qh4 h5


at the beginning when I first seen this move I thought it was a questionable one, then after looking a bit I thought this move is interesting, after looking a lot, I think it's just genius! Giving the light color bishop this way, fixing Black's pawn structure, how can this be right? The idea is deeper, first and most important, black has to take with the "c" pawn, this means he cannot challenge white's center with the move "c5", furthermore, the Bishop n b7, will remain blocked pretty much for ever, and white can also take on b5 after cxb5
17...exd5 18.e6 Nf6 19.Nxf7 And white is just winning
Logical idea, but taking on b5 first was stronger, white's betting that his king's side attack will or can win the game for him [18.axb5 And it suddenly is not that easy to come up with a plan for black]
18...Be7 19.Nf4! And black is just lost, white has a killer attack here, the threats of Ngxe6, and Nxh5, just winning the game, black is totally lost on the dark squares, the genius idea of Bxd5!! 19...Rae8 20.Nxh5+ gxh5 21.Qxh5 Bxg5 22.Qxg5+ Kh7 23.Qh5+ Kg8 24.Bh6; 18...Bxd2 should be considered, not allowing white the possibility to take on b4, and push a5.
19.Bxb4 axb4 20.Nf4 Rae8 21.a5 complicated game, somehow not easy for both sides, but white seems better.
19...Rae8 20.g4

Carried away! take the Bishop on b4 and push a5 was best, with advantage for white
20...Qxd4! Victor style, the name is Korchnoi, Victor Korchnoi, and if I can take a pawn and not see a clear way why not to do that, I take the pawn - this is the right way! This was my first move, of course I am shaking playing this, but what can I do, this is the best move I see, and that only one I can play! 21.gxh5 (21.Be3 Qxb2 22.gxh5 Qc2 Black's queen on its way to f5 winning the game) 21...Qxe5 Seems quite winning for black(21...Qxb2).
A big question here, should black take on d2 and play b4, or allow white to take on b4. Based on the idea for white to open the Queen's side, the answer should be clear, take on d2 and play b4, do not allow white to open the "a" file with axb5.
21...Bxd2 22.Rxd2 b4
22.Bxb4 axb4 23.axb5 (23.a5)
22...Bxd2 23.Rxd2 b4 24.Rg1
The critical position, since black simply went wrong with c3, and blundered after it, the best defensive move might be 24...Kg8 with an extremely complicated position, this is the point! this how a weaker player has to challenge a higher, much higher opponent, not positional play, not basic understanding, but tactics, complicated positions, this, and pretty much only this way, is the way to beat much higher players

Completely wrong idea, opening another front for white to play, this is exactly what white needs
25.bxc3 bxc3 26.Rc2
actually the more I look at this position, the more it looks horrible for black, such a wrong idea it was to open the "c" file for white rooks
26...Qb3 27.Rgc1 Rc8

Black can just resign after this, white still has to find one move, but such a strong move, really 1–0 can you find the move?
f7 cannot be defended, since after Rc7, white has Rxc3, the rest of the game is not important, white has many faster way to finish the game, this part is the less important one, white went on and won in his way
28...Qxa4 29.Nfxe6+ Nxe6 30.Qf6+ Kh6 31.Nxf7+ Kh7


32.Rxc3 leads to checkmate.
32...Rxh8 33.Qxe6
Once again Rxc3, but ok, let white win the way he wants.
33...Qxd4 34.Qf7+ Kh6 35.Rxc3 Qe4+ 36.Kg1 Qf5 37.Qxb7 d4 38.Rc8 Rh7 39.Qg2 d3 40.Qg3 Kh5 41.R8c3 d2 42.Qh3+ Kg5 43.Qg2+ Kh6 44.Rh3+ Kg7 45.Qb7+ 1–0



Every win over an opponent 300–400 points higher is a story, this one decided the tournament, when WGM Sharevich won against the clear favorite to win the tournament the strong GM Corrales. The win was fair and square, when WGM Sharevich was better , then much better, winning, then allowed Corrales a bit back into the game, but kept her advantage the entire game, was not afraid of any complications, and won. Rarely do we see a much higher opponent get outplayed an entire game, this game was an example for that, let's get to the moves
1...Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5
The Benoni opening, was one of the popular choices of the 80' but like the king's Indian, it has moved a side, in favor of more space fighting opening, such as he Slav, Nimzo, Queen Gambit, basically anything that fight for e4 quickly. In the Benoni, black gives white the center, with the idea of getting play on the Queen's side, if black, cannot get any play, oh well, then we see how difficult it's for him, this game for a start..
5...g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Bg2 0–0 8.Nf3 d6 9.0–0 Na6 10.h3 Nc7 11.e4


11.a4 Re8 12.Nd2 b6 13.Re1 Ba6 14.Rb1 Nd7 15.Qc2 Ne5 With an ok position for black in this line, this why 11. a4 in less popular compares to e4
A very bizarre move in my view, the knight to e8, why? is not the knight supposed to go to "d7" fight for the e5 square?
12.a4 Rb8 13.Bg5

A standard move provoking f6 by black, with the intention to block Black's powerful dark color Bishop.
13...f6 14.Bd2 a6
14...f5 15.Bg5 Bf6 16.Bxf6 Qxf6 17.Re1


I find it very hard to believe that such a move can be the right one for black, this move throws away b5 followed by axb5, gives white the "c4" square as a dream square for white's knight, black opening seems to be a failure [15...b5 The critical move, yet white is fully ready to meet this , by playing the powerful blocking move b4 16.b4! even stronger than first axb5 (16.axb5 Nxb5 (16...f5 17.Bg5 Qd7 18.exf5 with advantage for white; 16...axb5 17.b4) ) 16...cxb4 17.Nd4 (17.Rxb4 a5 18.Rb1 b4 19.Nd4) 17...Bd7 18.Rxb4 a5 19.Rxb5 Nxb5 20.axb5 and white seems winning, the outposts on c6 and e6 are just decisive; 15...f5]
16.Re1 Na6 17.Nb5 Bd7 18.Bf1 Nb4 19.Na3 Rf7 20.Bf4 Bf8 21.Kh2 Nc7 22.Nc4 Be8 23.Ra1 b6 24.h4
The players were dancing a bit, moving here, moving there, white is clearly better, yet not very easy for whit to break through, 24...h6 by black seems a logical move, controlling the "g5" square.
What is this??? For a strong player like Corrales to play something like this, the g5 square, the e5 break, no idea why Corrales had missed, such a bizarre move for such strong GM. [24...h6; 24...Kh8 25.Qd2 Kg8 26.b3 Kh8 And white still have to find a way to break through, although let's be very clear, white is clearly better here]
Logical, but far from the best, Bg5 with the e5 break through decides the game [25.Bg5 Black is just lost, going to lose material and his king also seems weak 25...Qd7 (25...Be7 26.e5 Bxg5 27.Nxg5) 26.e5 Nbxd5 27.e6 Nxe6 28.Qxd5; 25.e5]
Maybe the only decent move black has played this entire game, the exchange sacrifice is his only way to stay in the game and complicate things
26.Rxe4! And declining the material is white's best, it's about the space and pieces activity 26...Rf6 27.Ne3
26...Bxf7 27.Rxe4 Bxd5 28.Re1 Ne6


My feeling, black overlooked white extremely strong and impressive reply, after which, white get the control back, things could have gotten much more complicated for white had black played the best 28...Qf6 [28...Qd7; 28...Qf6 29.Ne3 Be6 30.Bg2 Qf7 And the game is still on, white still better]
Bravo! such a strong move, the open diagonal a2–g8 allows white to play this way, maybe the move black overlooked.
29...Bc6 30.Bc4 d5 31.Nxd5 Bxd5 32.Bxd5 Nxd5 33.Bxb8
30.Nxd5 Nfxd5 31.Bc4 Qf6
31...Bg7 32.Bxd5+ Kh8 33.Ra3 Bd4
32.Bxd5+ Kh8 33.Re2
So what we have here? white has a complete dominance over the light squares, and black king seems weak, with correct play white should be winning this one.
33...g5 complicate a bit but really not that much 34.hxg5 Qxg5 35.Be6.
I like this move very much, getting the rook to the game, to the "e" file, this way, is a very elegant and classical way, but more important, a very strong one.
34...Qf5 35.Be6 Qf8 36.Bd5
36.Kg2 finishes the game on the spot, after this pretty move, black cannot stop Rf3, which means the end of the game for black.
36...Qf5 37.Be4 Qd7 38.Bg2 d5 39.Rae3

Black is lost any way, he should maybe consider defending "e7" but the result of the game will not change

39...Bf8; 39...Bf6 40.Re6 Kg7 41.Qd2
40.Re7 Qd8 41.Rb7 Bf6 42.Re6

It's over for black, white pieces are breaking through, the seventh rank is weak for black, and he cannot create any counter play, the rest of the game does not require any further analysis, very impressive win by white.
42...Bxh4 43.Qg4
43.gxh4?? Qxh4+ 44.Kg1 (44.Bh3?? Rxf2+ 45.Kh1 Qxh3+) 44...Qxf2+ draw, yuck.
43...Bf6 44.Rexb6 d4 45.Qh3 h5 46.Qe6 Nd3 47.Rb8 Qe7 48.Rxf8+ Qxf8 49.Qxf6+ Qxf6 50.Rxf6 Nxb2 51.Ra6 c4 52.Rxa5 c3 53.Be4 d3 54.Ra8+ Kg7 55.Bxd3 Nxd3 56.Rc8 Nb2 57.a5 Na4 58.a6 1–0

See the full crosstable on the STL Chess Club website and rated results on USCF MSA. Also find video lectures by Ronen and many other titled players on the STL Chess Club's YouTube channel.