USCF Home Chess Life Online 2008 July World Open Reflections
|World Open Reflections|
|By GM Michael Rohde|
|July 15, 2008|
There is no tournament like the World Open. This is due to the larger-than-usual potential jubilation or letdown that occurs when the dust settles after the last round. As a player perennially on the “bubble”, e.g., one with chances of finishing in the prize money (or, to borrow another poker term, “cashing”), it is impossible to relax during the event. The new phenomenon of Under-2500 class prizes in the biggest events (for example, the WO, the Chicago Open, the National Open and the North American Open) make these events must-play for me. In the 2007 North American Open (last December in Las Vegas), I lost spectacularly to GM Ildar Ibragimov in the penultimate round, effectively ending my tournament and reducing me to playing ignominious limit hold’em while waiting for my plane flight out of there. The World Open would be different …|
In these musings, I am not alone. For the past few months, any chess player flipping through the back pages of Chess Life could dream about success on Independence Weekend. Returning to central Philadelphia, where there is no shortage of great food, cheap transportation and famous landmarks, this year’s World Open promised to be the highlight of a busy American chess summer. Ready-made warm-ups for many of the international players were available in June at the Marshall Chess Club International, and then the Philadelphia International, which directly preceded the World Open. In end-of-spring chess classes, GMs could list on the blackboard all the prizes they would win in this bevy of tournaments. The juiciest prize of all at the World Open that I too was dreaming of? Easy– “first place: $30,000”.
Then the pairings go up for the first round.
With a separate Under-2400 section this year, the Open section featured numerous GM vs. GM first round pairings. The key to avoiding this is to play in the most “normal” schedule possible, which is the 5-day. The Continental Chess Association offers many schedules in its events, but there is no re-entry in the Open section. The 7-day schedule is too long, and the 4- and 3-day schedules, with their faster time controls and greater GM concentrations, are too dangerous for anyone who still has the number $30,000 in their subconscious. Word had been spreading in chess circles about a $6 bus from NYC to Philly, so US Junior Champion Marc Arnold and his coach GM John Fedorowicz took this bus, and Fed reported back that the “megabus” (Megabus.com) was good. Fed was right, but I got too late a bus for the 5-day, and entered the 4-day, where I had to play former World Open champion GM Ilya Smirin in Round 1.
1.e4 c5 2.c3 g6 3.Nf3
Developing while waiting and avoiding the main line 3 d4. 3.d4 cxd4 4.cxd4 d5 this move upsets White's central pawn duo and takes the mobility out of White's center. 5.e5 is the main line. If 5.exd5 Nf6, Black has equalized.
3...d5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.d4 would be quite good for White as ... g6 is misplaced in this line where White will get good central and queenside pressure.
Again waiting so that 4 ... d5 is not good, but now Smirin appropriately switches to the ... Ng8-f6 lines where the knight ends up on d5, in reaction to the plain position of White's light-squared bishop. [4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 d5; 4.Bc4 e6 5.0–0 Ne7]
4...Nf6 5.e5 Nd5 6.d4 cxd4 7.Qxd4
7.cxd4 d6 and White would have nothing.
7...Nc7 8.Qh4 h6
8...Nc6 9.Bh6 would both remove the pressure against e5 and give White attacking chances.
9.0–0 Nc6 10.Qg3
White has a slight advantage - although his pieces are tied to the defense of e5, Black will eventually need to liquidate that square, and White has the more solid position.
10...Ne6 11.Re1 b6 12.Na3 Bb7 13.Bd2 a6 14.Rad1 Qc7 15.Bd3
15 Bf1 was also possible, but I wanted to dissuade Black from castling kingside.
15...0–0–0 16.b4 d6 17.exd6
17.b5 Nxe5 18.Nxe5 Bxe5 was much less clear as 19 f4 gives Black resources involving ... Qc7-c5+.
17...Rxd6 18.Bc4 Rhd8
18...Ncd8 19.Ne5 is very uncomfortable for Black.
19.Bxe6+ Rxe6 20.Qxc7+
20.Rxe6 fxe6 21.Qxg6 Bxc3 22.Qxe6+ Kb8 allows Black to become very active.
20...Kxc7 21.Bf4+ Kc8 22.Nc4
This wins a pawn.
22...Rxe1+ 23.Rxe1 Rd3 24.Nxb6+ Kd8 25.Na4 Bc8
In mutual time pressure, Smirin begins playing for the win, a pawn down. Better drawing chances were afforded by 25 ... Bxc3 26 Nxc3 Rxc3 27 Bxh6
26.Bd2 Ne5 27.Nxe5 Rxd2 28.Nc6+ Kc7 29.Nxe7 Be6 30.Nc5
White can give back one of his two extra pawns to try to break the coordination of Black's bishops.
Holding on to his bishops but losing too much time. 30...Bxc3 31.Rc1 Kd8 32.Nc6+ Ke8 33.Nxe6 fxe6 34.a4; 30...Rxa2 31.h4 Bxc3 were both better tries.
31.h4 Rxa2 32.Re4 this wins 32...Bb5 33.c4 f5 34.Nd5+ Kb8 35.Re7 Bf8 36.Rf7 Ra1+ 37.Kh2 Bd6+ 38.g3 Bxc4 39.Nd7+ Kb7 40.Ne5+ Kc8 41.Nxc4 Bb8 42.Ncb6+Kd8 43.Rb7 Be5 44.Rd7+ Ke8 45.Re7+ 1–0
My real rollercoaster started in Round 3 when, with 1.5-.5, I faced GM Varuzhan Akobian. After developing a strong initiative and winning material, I played what was supposed to be a safe move, which actually gave everything back, instead of continuing with what should have been a winning attack.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 c5 5.d5
5.g3 is the main line of 4 Nf3 vs. the Nimzo; 5.e3 basically transposes to the Rubinstein / Huebner variation.
5...exd5 6.cxd5 d6 7.Bg5
White has adopted a Benoni center against the Nimzo and because of the pin on the c3 knight, has a hard time maintaining the center
Perhaps Akobian had read the scouting report on me - that if he plays in a somewhat unsound style, that I will take an enormous amount of time trying to figure out what is going on. Here a main question is whether White will have compensation for the pawn after 8 ... g5 9 Bg3 Ne4 10.Nd2
Rejecting for now the potential gain of a pawn with the weakening ... g7-g5; I wanted to avoid prepared lines.
8...g5 9.Bg3 Qa5 (9...Ne4 10.Nd2 a) 10.Qd3 Bf5 (10...f5 11.e3) 11.Nd2; b) 10.Rc1; 10...Nxc3 11.bxc3 Bxc3 12.Rc1 Bb4 13.e3) 10.Nd2 Bxc3 11.bxc3.
9.Nd2 0–0 10.e4
again I am being dared to win a pawn in various ways that might slightly compromise my position.
10...Qe8 which both unpins and attacks e4, was the way to win a pawn here, but I thought d5 would get weak later 11.Bd3 (11.Qc2 Bxc3 12.bxc3 Nxd5) 11...Bxc3 12.bxc3 Nxd5 13.0–0]
again sticking with the most solid positional move [11...Qa5 12.Qc2 (12.0–0 Bxc3 13.bxc3 (13.Nc4) ) ; 11...Ne5 12.Qc2 Ng6 (12...Neg4) 13.Bxf6 Qxf6 14.g3 a6 15.0–0 b5 16.a3 Ba5 17.a4 Bh3 18.Rfe1 c4 19.Bf1 Bxf1 20.Rxf1 Ne5 21.axb5 axb5 22.Kg2 b4 23.f4 Ng4 24.Nxc4 bxc3 25.b3 Bb4 (25...Qd4 26.Kf3 (26.Qe2) 26...f5 (26...Nf6) ) ; 11...Qe7]
12.Qc2 Ng6 13.Bxf6
13.Bg3 a6 and castling would still cough up a pawn to ... Bxc3 followed by ... Nxd5
13...Qxf6 14.g3 a6
Black has a major positional advantage here, but from White's point of view, he has finally secured the e4/d5 chain14...Bh3 15.Bf1 Bxf1 [15...Bg4 16.Bg2) 16.Kxf1]
15.0–0 b5 16.a3 Ba5 17.a4 Bh3 18.Rfe1 c4 19.Bf1
19.axb5 allows 19 ... Qxf2+ and White's king walks the plank after 20 Kxf2 Bb6+
19...Bxf1 20.Rxf1 Ne5 21.axb5 axb5
Menacing ... b5-b4-b3 and then ... Bxd2 with the Black knight landing on f3
22.Kh1 is probably the best try here.
22...b4 23.f4 Ng4
creating a winning double threat
24.Nxc4 bxc3 25.b3
of course the knight on c4 had to stay there to defend e3 [25.h3 cxb2 26.Rab1 Rec8 27.hxg4 Qd4 wins.
A horrible blunder. I thought I could just move the bishop to safety and stay up material, but overlooked that my knight is trapped. 25...Qd4 this would cause the collapse of White's position, even though White can defend e3 and attack the knight on g4 by either 26 Qe2 or 26 Kf3 26.Kf3 (26.Qe2 Black would have many good moves here - for example, 26 ... f5, 26 ... Nf6, 26 ... Rxe4, 26 ... Qxe4+, etc.) 26...f5]
26.Rxa8 Rxa8 27.h3
Suddenly White is just better.
27...Qg6 28.hxg4 Qxg4 29.e5 h5 30.Rh1 g6 31.exd6 Qd7 32.f5
32.Nb6 Qxd6 33.Nxa8 Qxd5+ 34.Kh2 Qxa8 35.Re1 was also possible.
32...Qxf5 33.Qxf5 gxf5 34.Kf3 Rd8 35.Ke3 Kg7 36.Rxh5 c2 37.Rh1 Be1
a cute trick, but I still could not figure out how to hold the endgame
38.Rxe1 Re8+ 39.Kd3 Rxe1 40.Kxc2 Kf8 41.b4 Re4 42.Kc3 Rg4 43.b5 Rxg3+ 44.Kb4 Rg1 45.Kc5 f4 46.b6 Rb1 47.Kc6 Rb4 48.Ne5 1–0
On July 4, the Mets came to town for a 4-game set against division rivals the Phillies. Still not able to come to terms with how I threw away such a good opportunity against a strong GM, my chess becomes “unrecognizable”, much like the then-struggling Mets, who lost 3-2 on a walk-off single by the Phillies’ Shane Victorino in the 9th inning. A few blocks away from the Sheraton (the World Open’s host hotel), an evening fireworks display esthetically emanates from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Mets will need to win their next 3 games against the Phillies if they want to achieve anything. I have 2.5-2.5 and will need to win my next 4 games in the World Open if I want to achieve anything.
But slowly things start to turn. I go downstairs and discover that my son Danny is 4-1 in the Under-2000 section. Hmm … Danny is a student at University of Michigan (entering his sophomore year this fall) and hasn’t played chess since the Amateur Team, where he also played well. Students from the University of Chicago appear in the tournament area and invite GMs to test out their game theory contests, in return for cash prizes (which ranged up to over $100). This was no grad-student psychology experiment on what makes chess players different. These were disciples of U. of Chicago’s Stephen Levitt of Freakonomics fame. Freakonomics is a New York Times bestseller that shows how data mining can explain counter-intuitive economic results – fitting for the World Open, where it is very hard to get a handle on how one is doing.
The next morning I swear off the Philly cheesesteaks and seek out Raindrop Café at 17th and Arch. It was closed for the weekend but directed me to another one at 18th and Chestnut where I fortified myself with a “Soy Sensation” smoothie and some kind of hummus wrap. I return to the hotel, ready to play some serious chess. I go back to the Raindrop several times over the weekend
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.Bb5 Nge7 5.0–0 Nd4 6.Nxd4 cxd4 7.Ne2 Qb6 8.Ba4
This is much better than 8 Bd3 Nc6 9 c3 when Black does not have to give up control of d4.
8...Qa6 9.Bb3 d3 10.cxd3 Qxd3 11.Bc2 Qa6 12.d4 looks good for White.
9.d3 Be7 10.c3 dxc3 11.bxc3 0–0 12.d4 d6
12...d5 13.exd5 exd5 14.Nf4 is bad for Black.
13.Be3 Na5 14.Qd3 Qc7 15.f4
Methodically, Tate has built an imposing position
15...Qc4 16.Qc2 d5 was probably the right way to defend, as it keeps the White light-squared bishop out of the game.
16...f5 17.exf5 exf5 18.d5 was a way to block the kingside, but it leaves Black with too many light-squared problems to be seriously considered in a must-win situation.
17.e5 f5 18.exf6 Bxf6 would give Black what he wants, as the f4 pawn remains there, blocking White's minor pieces from moving into attacking positions 19.Bc2 g6.
17...exd5 18.f5 Bd6
Risky, but keeping active, as opposed to ... f7-f6 or ... Be7-f6
19.Nf4 Nb6 20.Bc2 Re8; 19.f6 g6 and if a White minor piece shows up on f4, Black will have ... Bc8-f5 in many lines.
19...Bd7 20.Bc2 Rfe8 21.Nf4 Nb6
21...Bxf4 22.Bxf4 and Black would have bleak prospects.
A deft maneuver to gain some activity.
23.Rg1 Qe7 24.a4
24.Qh3 Nd7 25.Nh5
24...Bc6 25.Qh3 Nd7
Black has increased his piece activity, but White is getting to critical mass on the kingside.
26.Nh5 Nf6 27.Nxg7
27.Bg5 Ne4 28.Bh4 28.Bxe4 Qxg528...f6 29.Qg4 still seems better for White
The text threatens Qh3-h6+.
28.Qh6+ Kh8 29.Bg5 loses to 29 ... Ng4.
28...h5 29.Qh4 Qd8
A delicate regrouping
30.Rae1 Rxe1 (30...Rh8) 31.Rxe1 Be7 and White would still have to prove the sacrifice.
31.Bxf6+ Qxf6 32.gxh5+ Kf8 and Black would win due to the threat against h2.
31...Rxg2 32.Kxg2 Be7 33.Re1 Qd6 34.Re3 Rg8 35.Kh1 Kf8
Black has successfully extricated himself.
36.Bh6+ Ke8 37.g5 Ng4 38.Re1 Kd8 39.f6 Bxf6 40.Qxh5 Qf4 0–1
As I immerse myself in a tough battle to defend my kingside against a destructive piece sacrifice, Danny reports that he is 5-1. I know I have to stay away from him so as not to make him nervous, but hope he is absorbing as much chess knowledge as possible from friends such as Marc Arnold, Teddy Coleman, Brian Goldstein, and others. That afternoon, the Mets beat the Phillies to start what turns out to be a 9-game winning streak that takes them to the All-Star break.
In a tough Neo-Grunfeld, I overestimate my attacking chances and have positional difficulties against the Indian GM, G.N. Gopal. He simplifies ruthlessly into the better major-piece ending, but a new cheesy attack materializes and in mutual time pressure, I score the point
1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.d4 Nxc3
To get to the Grunfeld, Black has to make this exchange voluntarily, as 5 ... g6 6 dxc5 is bad for Black.
5 ... e6 would be the out-of-style Semi-Tarrasch
6.bxc3 g6 7.e3
Lending extra support to d4, as 7 e4 did not seem necessary here.
7...Bg7 8.Bb5+ Nd7
Ambitiously allowing White more space. 8 ... Bd7 9 Rb1 is comfortable for White; 8 ... Nc6 is the best way to try to secure equality
9.0–0 0–0 10.a4 b6
10...a6 11.Be2 b6 12.Ba3 Qc7 13.Rb1 was another possibility.
11.a5 Bb7 12.a6
I was happy to get this in, but overestimated the value of this space advantage.
13.Bb2 playing for c3-c4 might have been a better idea.
Appealing, but ultimately pointless. Much better was 14 Re1.
Backtracking to stop ... Nf6-e4.
15...Qc7 16.Rfe1 Rfd8 17.Rad1 e6 18.e4 Bc6
It turns out that there really is no good plan here for White for forward motion with the center.
19.e5 Nd5 20.Ne4 Bxb5 21.Qxb5 cxd4 22.cxd4 Nc3
Embarking on a series of exchanges to expose the backwardness of White's d-pawn.
23.Nxc3 Qxc3 24.Bd6 Bf8 25.Bxf8 Kxf8 26.Qb1
Defending d4 through the trick 26 ... Rxd4?? 27 Rc1
26...Qc4 would have been strong, creating a threat to take on d4.
27.h4 Qxa6 28.d5
Suddenly White embarks on a multi-pawn sacrifice to change the position.
28...Rxd5 29.Rxd5 exd5 30.e6 fxe6 31.Qb4+ Kg8 32.Qe7
A very strong attack has been whipped up out of nowhere.
32...b5 33.h5 Qc6 34.h6 Qc7 35.Qxe6+ Kf8 36.Re3 Qc1+ 37.Kh2 Qxe3 38.fxe3 Rc7 39.Qf6+ Rf7 40.Qd8# 1–0
After this win, Danny announces that he is now 6-1. Many years ago at a National Chess Congress (the annual Philadelphia Thanksgiving event run by CCA), I was battling Shabalov on top board in the last round while Danny was battling to the top of the U1200 section. Danny won in the last round and brought home the goods, winning $1,000, while I lost to Shabalov. Would this tournament be some kind of deja vu?
The renowned Artur Yusupov, who I first met at the 1977 World Junior Championship in Innsbruck, Austria, (Artur won that event), gets the jump on me. I tried to split his hanging pawns but he responded with a sweeper-sealer motif to start an attack. However, I managed to defend.
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.e3 c5 4.Bd3 Nc6
I decide on a classical response, rather than a Queen's Indian / hedgehog formation with ... b7-b6
5.0–0 d5 6.b3 Be7 7.Bb2 0–0 8.Nbd2 a6 9.c4
9.Ne5 cxd4 10.exd4 Nxe5 11.dxe5 Nd7 and the Black knight gains access to c5.
The beginning of a plan to give White the "hanging pawns" formation
10.exd4 b6 11.Rc1 Bb7
11...dxc4 12.bxc4 b5 would be better timed here than as in the game; note that this can only be played after White's rook has left a1 as counterplay is needed against the White a-pawn.
12.Re1 dxc4 13.bxc4 b5
The positional idea of this move is to gain control of the d5 square, for example after 14 c5 Nb4 15 Bb1 Bd5 with a good position
had Black played the maneuver with ... b6-b5 one move earlier this retort would not be available, but here it is, as 14 ... bxc4 cannot be played as 15 dxc6 attacks b7 [14.cxb5 Nb4 15.Bb1 (15.bxa6 Nxd3 16.axb7 Rb8) 15...axb5 clearly would be good for Black]
Utilizing the fact that the White d-pawn is temporarily pinned anyway, the knight goes to a more useful square than b4 [14...Nb4 15.Bb1 exd5 16.cxb5 axb5 17.Nd4 is very dangerous for Black 17...Nxa2 18.Nf5 Bb4 (18...Re8 19.Rxe7 Rxe7 20.Bxf6) ]
15...exd5 16.cxb5 with the White knight coming to d4 is again way too dangerous.
16.Nxc4 bxc4 17.Qc2 g6 18.dxe6
Yusupov has extracted a positional advantage from the complications.
It is much more important to patrol the light squares rather than to double White's kingside pawns with ...Bxf3
19.Qxc4 Bd5 20.Qe2 Nh5
Active defense with possible ... Nh5-f4 and ... Be7-f6 is the right way to limit the damage.
21.Be4 Nf4 22.Qe3 Bxe4 23.Qxe4 Qd3
Eliminating the queens enables the knight on f4 to generate more counterplay.
24.Rc7 Qxe4 25.Rxe4 Rab8 26.Rxe7 Rxb2 27.h4 Nh3+
27...Rxa2 28.Ng5 looked troublesome in time pressure, but with more time I might have ventured it, as 28 ... Nd5 with a hit on f2 is a decent response] 28.Kh2 Nxf2 29.Rd4 Ng4+ again insisting on simplification.
30.Rxg4 Rxf3 31.h5 Rf7 32.Rxe6 Rxa2 33.hxg6 hxg6 34.Rgxg6+ Kf8 ½–½
Danny reports that he also drew his game, but only because he overlooked an interpolation and that otherwise, he would have won. I can only hope that my own tendency towards self-recrimination is not hereditary. Danny now has 6.5 – 1.5. I finish the penultimate round with 5-3. Among the players rated under 2500, Justin Sarkar and Dashzeveg Sharavdorj also have 5-3.
As I sit down against yet another of my old nemeses, GM Leonid Yudasin, it becomes evident that he, in discussing the tournament situation with Alex Lenderman, who is playing on the next board, that he has no idea that I am in the running for U2500 money, which has advertised prizes of $3,000 and $1,500. Before the last round, CCA announced that prizes would in fact, due to the actual number of entries, be at their minimum, or 80% of the projected prizes. (Thus, actual U2500 prizes were $2,400 and $1,200.) From Yudasin’s point of view, he needs a win to get to 6-3, which as it turned out, and as accurately estimated by Brooklyn College math student Lenderman, would be a tie for 7th place in the event, and a prize of $667. Before the game, I made sure to get to Raindrop Café for another Soy Sensation smoothie; this would protect me somehow.
1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 b6 4.e3 g6
in response to White's preparing to build a pawn center with d4/c4, Black abandons the hedgehog / Queen's Indian and moves to a King's Indian / Benoni type formation
5.d4 Bg7 6.Be2 0–0 7.0–0 e6
a very provocative move. Simply 7 ... d6 (better than 7 ... Bb7 8 d5 blocking the bishop), awaiting White's plans, was best 8.e4 with the weakness of d6, White can transition to a Maroczy Bind type of formation 8...cxd4 9.Nxd4 Bb7 10.e5 Ne8
I had played a similar game against Yudasin in an action tournament at the Marshall Chess Club, so I was confident that his knight was headed to e8 rather than e4. [10...Ne4 11.Nxe4 Bxe4 12.Bf3 Bxf3 13.Nxf3 with a slight but clear advantage for White]
11.Bf3 Qc8 12.Re1
12.Bg5 Bxe5 13.Be7 Bxd4 14.Qxd4 Bxf3 15.Bxf8 Nc6 16.Qh4 Kxf8 17.gxf3 Ne5; 12.Bf4 d6 13.exd6 e5 14.Nd5 Kh8 15.Ne7 Qd7 would simply lose material for White; 12.Bg5 Bxe5 13.Be7 Bxd4 14.Qxd4 the only move (14.Bxf8 Bxc3; 14.Bxb7 Qxb7 15.Qxd4 Nc6) 14...Bxf3 15.Bxf8 Nc6 16.Qh4 Kxf8 17.gxf3 Ne5 was a variation that I wasted a lot of time thinking about, without coming to any real conclusion
12...Nc6 13.Nxc6 Bxc6 14.Bg5 Bxf3
There was no particular reason for this exchange. Better was 14 ... f6 [14...f6 15.exf6 Nxf6 16.Rc1 (16.Bxc6 Qxc6 17.Qe2 Rac8 18.Rad1 would be the safe way to play) 16...Bxf3 17.Qxf3 Qxc4 18.Bxf6 Bxf6 19.Ne4 Qd4 20.Rcd1 should be ok, with an initiative going forward, though White has given up a pawn]
15.Qxf3 f6 16.exf6 Nxf6
This was an attempt to punish Black for his strange 14th move, which gave White an extra tempo for the "attack". However, this move is simply unsound. 17 Qe2, as noted below, would give White the better chances [17.Rac1 transposes to the note to Black's fourteenth; 17.Qe2 was best, and White has the slightly better position with no risk at all 17...Qc5 (17...Qc6 18.Rad1 Rac8 19.b3 with White doing very well) 18.Bxf6 Bxf6 19.Ne4 keeps the advantage]
17...Qxc4 18.Bxf6 Bxf6 19.Ne4
19.Rxd7 Bd4 20.Qh3 Bxf2+ 21.Kh1 Bh4 and Black is winning; in this line I overlooked that I could not take on e6 in these kinds of positions 22.Rg1 Rf1 23.b3 Rxg1+ 24.Kxg1 Bf2+ 25.Kxf2 Rf8+ would be interesting. 19...Be7 20.Qg4 Qc7 21.h4
I am looking for tricks here, but Black is just winning.
21...Rad8 22.h5 Qf4 23.Qe2 gxh5 24.Rd3
24...h4 25.g3 hxg3 26.Rxg3+ Kh8 27.Rd1 d5 28.Nd2 Bc5 and Black went on to win 0–1
Psychologically, I prepared a good opening, which encouraged Yudasin to take chances, and I achieved a comfortable game. Yudasin had some counterpressure on my pawns, and when he played a less-than-accurate move, I responded with an aggressive gesture, which actually was a pawn sacrifice, and ultimately, an unsound one. Quickly, my solid, safe and superior position (a draw would have been ok with me, just to get some of that U2500 money) turned to garbage. Sarkar drew his game, and Bryan Smith, who had 4.5 before the round, won his game, and I got closed out of the U2500.
This began a long vigil regarding what would happen in Danny’s game. A win would get him to 7.5 and a tie for first (about $9,000); a draw would mean a tie for 3rd place and about $1,600. Unfortunately, his opponent, who was subject to a $2,000 prize ceiling in that section because of various factors involving his rating, grinded him down in a long ending. Danny ended up with 6.5-2.5; his prize was $480.
So there are many financial vicissitudes that one can experience at the big American open tournaments. The World Open, being 9 rounds, is long enough to survive at least one disastrous blunder. Getting away with more than that would be asking too much. Perhaps a “freakonomics” study of chess tournament economics should be commissioned, in order to find a better way, at least to try to achieve positive expectations / equity, when going to the big events.