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Ivanov Wins in Land of the Sky Print E-mail
By Larry Cohen   
February 2, 2009
GMs Sergey Kudrin and Alexander Ivanov tied for first at Land of the Sky. Photo Chris Baumgartner
I remember reading about the Land of the Sky chess tournament back in 1990 and have always wanted to attend this fine event.  So when a chess friend asked me to drive out to Asheville, North Carolina (10 ½  hours from Chicago.) I thought it over and agreed.  The drive through the Smoky Mountains was very scenic.  I especially liked the ice along the mountain walls that despite the 40 degree weather, looked like white frozen waterfalls.  The hotel site is high up on a hill, like a lot of buildings in the Smoky Mountains.  There was a gigantic fireplace to warm up by if you felt the need.  The playing hall was one of the best I've ever seen.  You can find more photos of the site at www.mcafidetournaments.blogspot.com.

For over 20 years Wilder Wilford has organized Land of the Sky.  This tournament in North Carolina has plenty of southern hospitality, but the chess was hardly friendly.  The open section had 2 GMs, 4 IMs, and well over a dozen masters.  GMs Alexander Ivanov and Sergey Kudrin squared off in the final round for all the biscuits.  A short draw gave Ivanov clear first and assured Kudrin a share of second.  Kudrin had been held to a draw in round 2 by FM Peter Bereolos.  Also tying for second were Andre Chumachenko, IM Bryan Smith (who beat IM Kirill Kuderinov in the final round), IM Tim Taylor, & IM Emory Tate.

Personally I had hoped to play more like a Russian GM than like a CCCP [Certified Chess Club Patzer], but that was not to be.  You can see from the following game how easily I was handled by IM Tim Taylor.

IM Tim Taylor's only loss was to tournament winner GM Ivanov.  I will admit that I may have let myself get distracted by some TTT  [Typical Tate Tactics] on the board next to me.

1.e4  c5  2. Nc3  g6  3. g3  Nc6  4. Bg2  d6  5. d3  Bg7  6. Nh3  Nf6  7. 0-0  Nd4  8. f4  Bg4  9. Qd2  h5  10. Ng5  h4  11. h3  hxg3  12. hxg4  Nxg4  13. e5 

Better may have been Re1.
13...dxe5 14. Nge4
Another choice may have been to play exf5 and then either Qf5 or taking on f7, but there would still be the possible response of f5 by Black.

If 14...e6 then fxe5 followed by Nd6ch would be OK for White, while 15.Nxg3 would lose to Qh4.
15. Ne2  exf4  16. c3
White must prevent Bd4+
16...  e5  17. Nxf4  exf4  18. Qe2  Qh4! 

Black could stop the double discovered check with Ne5 or Be5.  But Bd4+ will not work due to Nf2 with the discovered check followed by Qxg4.
19. Nf6+ Kf8  20. Nxg4  Nd4!  21. Qd1 Re8 22. Rxf4  Ne2+  23. Kf1  Qh1+  24. Bxh1  Rxh1 ch  25. Kg2  Rxd1  26. Rf1  Rxf1  27. Kxf1 Nxc1  28. Rxc1  f5  and White resigns 0-1

I want to thank IM Emory Tate for showing me the full game between rounds.  I just wish I remembered all of the potential tactics that he showed in going over the game.  Fritz agreed with Emory when I had asked about e6 rather than Nf5, that the Knight move is better.  It is a rare game when you allow your opponent to deliver double discovered check.  Somehow it is not surprising to me that it was IM Tate that allowed it. 

I encourage every chess player to play in at least one Land of the Sky tournament.  You won't regret it even if you have a minus score.  I may make it an annual event.

Check out MSA results from Land of the Sky here.