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The Local View on Nashville Print E-mail
By FM Todd Andrews   
April 8, 2009
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Nashville’s only Kindergardener in the event, Colin Smith poses with his coach, FM Todd Andrews
Preparations for the Super Nationals IV started for the top chess programs in Nashville at the beginning of the fall semester last year.  Our students at Hume-Fogg and Meigs Magnet Schools train with weekly, group lessons at school and some with private lessons with titled players.  They compete in the regional and state competitions, first individually and then as a team.  Some use their free time to sprinkle in a few one-day or two-day events around the region. 

I attended Hume-Fogg High School from 1996-2000 and this is the first year our school has had a well organized, after-school chess team. Hume-Fogg is a magnet high school located in downtown Nashville in a building that was built to look like a castle in 1912. Meigs Magnet school is located right across the river on the east side of Nashville and is coached by International Master Ron Burnett. Meigs students get automatic entry into Hume-Fogg, where every other kid in town has to rely on their chances in a lottery. While we do well perennially in state competitions, this was our initial shot at any sort of National competition.

Our high school kids all entered in the K-12 Championship, top dog section. Even though we could have entered a fairly strong K-9 Championship team with 5 students and an even better K-12 Under 1600 team with 7 students.  I wanted my team to be exactly that, a team. I wanted them to all compete together as one and our goal for this event was to prepare for creating a strong, nationally competitive program in the future. With a good attitudes, strong coaching and great parents to help organize the program, we hope to be a top-10 team soon. The photo to the left was taken on Sunday after the rounds: I only allow bughouse after the event.

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Vikas Kumar, 2009 TN Jr. High Champ, Alex Hamilton,  Michael Schoenfield, Joey Santoro is being blocked, Unknown kid and David Fan.

Getting over to the first day of Super Nationals IV at the luxurious Opryland hotel was a bit of an adventure.  Thursday afternoon, I picked a friend up from the airport and we jetted over to Hume-Fogg for our Thursday meeting. About half way through the club, while going over a   game, the all too familiar sound of tornado sirens started to blare (It was the second time in a week). Students in the high school were ushered down to the bottom two floors. Chess club was interrupted to the point that we just decided to finish the day playing. About the same time, Opryland Hotel occupants did the same in their building with ceilings made of glass. About 4 pm when chess club ended, the downtown streets of Nashville had turned into small rivers, which made navigating to the hotel very difficult. It took well over an hour and a half to complete what is usually a 15-minute drive. My car, which has seen plenty of miles , did not like being out in the weather or the stop-and-go traffic  and it forced us to hitch hike the rest of the way to the hotel in the gullywashin’ storms. But finally, soaked and worn, we made it to the event to scope out the Thursday activities. Getting familiar with the layout of the event and catching up with old friends took up most of the evening.

Friday morning, we met at Hume-Fogg to caravan over and set up camp. Our entourage of nine students, one coach and a few parents had a great spot all weekend in the spacious, warehouse like skittles room. Many improvements were made since the third Super Nationals and it never felt much like there were the same congestion issues as in previous years. We got off to a great start winning many games while playing opponents 300-500 points higher than our members. 

One local boy that attends our main rival in everything, MLK High School, played a solid game against an opponent 300+ points higher than him. His opponent ended up finishing in clear 2nd with 6.5/7.0, so Gainer did well to be the only to knick this strong player.



1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.Nf3 0–0 6.0–0 d5 7.Nbd2

7.b3 is the most popular choice in this position, protecting the c-pawn and offering possibilities of trading the "bad" dark squared bishop with Bc1–a3.
7...c6 8.Ne5 Qe8 9.Ndf3 Ne4 10.Ne1

There are only a few acceptable reasons for placing your knight on the edge of the board like that. Here the purpose is to dislodge the e4 knight with f2-f3 and to transfer the knight to the Queenside.
10...Nd7 11.N1d3 Nd6 12.Qc2 Nf7
 Black tries to fight for the e5 square.
13.b4 Nfxe5 14.dxe5 Nb6!
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A nice and thematic idea to take over the c4 square once the d and b-pawns have been pushed too far to ever cover it again.
15.c5 Nc4 16.Bb2 a5 17.a3 a4 18.Bd4 g5 19.e3 h5 20.f4 g4 21.Nb2 Nxb2 22.Qxb2 h4 23.Rfb1 Bd7 24.Kf2 Qh5 25.Rh1 Rf7 26.Rag1 Rh7

The game has become fairly locked up and neither side can seem to afford to try and break it open. Black can only do this with either hxg3 or b7-b6. White can only break with b4-b5. ½–½

The third day of the festival was the most interesting and enjoyable of them all. Our players kept doing fairly well against much higher rated opposition and at the end of the day we were in the top 20. Myself and some of our Nashville Chess center members got a chance to “be in the presence” of Kasparov. I would not go as far as to say I met the man. I stood in line for two hours not for myself, but to get a cool collectible for our club.
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Garry Kasparov, at one of two two-hour book signings


The best part of the event was the hanging out with my team. We spent a lot of time going over games, reviewing openings with a few endgames here and there. We ignored the “No outside food or drinks in the skittles room” sign and enjoyed being able to relax in our area with our large amount of rations.  Sunday would be far more grueling for the team.

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Left to right: David Fan, Joey Santoro, JoAnn Welch, Manu Nair and Stephen Carter



Besides hanging out with my students, seeing old friends from various part of the country was one of the greatest perks to having the Super Nationals at home.  Our old clan, from the days when we played in the Super Nationals I, had a nice reunion and the top activity at our multiple get-togethers was team chess. Players on each team alternated moves without discussion. Although we got some pretty good cheat signals down, and it is got more and more blatant as the night went on. We had two player teams the first night and three player teams the second. It was a blast and the average rating of the teams was fairly high.

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IM Greg Shahade just played Qg7xg2 the team game above. Was it a good move?

Show Solution


One the final day of the tournament is was clear that our team did not have a lot of steam left. For that matter, it did not look like much of anyone had any energy. Our results showed this fatigue, but our results were so strong on the previous days that I believe we played well above our rating level. We built a strong foundation this year and I am eager to already start preparing for next year in Columbus, Ohio.

I will leave with a game from JoAnn Welch, our only female player on the Hume Fogg squad in 2008-2009.

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Over 5200 players attended the SuperNationals in Nashville (April 3-5). Living legend Garry Kasparov and astronaut Greg Chamitoff spoke at the opening ceremonyCheck the final results, MSA rated results , the official website and the video contest page. Also on CLO: Jennifer Shahade's event wrap-up , Macauley Peterson's interview with GM Yury Shulman and a Parent's Perspective, Part I and Part II.

 
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