Kannappan on the Pan-Ams: Birds and Games
By IM Priyadharshan Kannappan   
January 9, 2015
It was a long journey to South Padre Island, Texas for the Pan Ams, as my university had booked us flight tickets only to Corpus Christi, which is a four hour drive from the tournament location. Road journey in Texas is no fun, as the roads are so flat, and with no bumps. In chess analogy, I would say, the taste of success is much sweeter after a loss, rather than just keep on winning!

When you play chess professionally, you try to stay as focused as possible during the tournament, which rules out the possibility to visit the local attractions in between rounds. So I decided to visit the birding center, which was just opposite to the venue, few hours before the tournament was to begin. I must say, that place was so beautiful and scenic, and it made me connect with nature in an intimate way.


The good thing about the Swiss system pairings is that, you get a nice warm-up in round one for the upcoming heavyweight battles. Lindenwood-A(LU-A) was pitted against Miami Dade college, and there were no surprises, as we had a 4-0 sweep. There were few individual upsets but not any team upsets.

Gershenov,B (2178) - Stukopin,A (2583)

Pan-Am Intercollegiate South Padre Island USA (2.4), 28.12.2014

Black's position doesn't look good at all! White seems to control the whole board. Black errs in the following move, and white fails to spot the simple tactic, to grab some material! This would have been a huge upset had white found...



This move doesn't throw away the positional advantage, but still when you have a chance to win material, you should grab it, as you may never get a chance again. [22.Nxe5 Bxe5 23.Bg4]
22...Kh8 23.Bc1?!

From this point, white started playing a series of inaccurate moves and ended up losing in move 57 0-1

Hernandez Carmenates,Hold (2537) - Iyer,Venkat (1982)


8.0-0 0-0?
This simple move is a blunder! [8...Be7 The only decent move in the position]
9.c5 Qa5 10.Nb1! b6
10...Qb5 this wouldn't lose a piece, but the position is horrible for black 11.a3 Ba5 12.Qxb5 cxb5 13.b4 Bc7 14.Nc3 a6 15.a4 bxa4 16.Rxa4±
11.a3 bxc5 12.Ra2! Qb6 13.axb4 cxd4 14.e3
White won a few moves later 1-0

Breckenridge,S (2303) - Hernandez Carmenates,Hold (2537)  


Who said GM don't make blunders?? Everyone is a human being, and oversights are always possible! 23...Rc5??
Tactical shots are missed by everyone! White is slightly better due to the weak pawn on f7 23...Re5 24.Bxf7 Kb6
24...Rxf7 25.Ne6+ Kb6 26.Rxd6+-
25.Bg6 Rd5 26.c4 Re5??

 It is well known, a blunder follows a blunder [26...Rc5±]
27.Bf5 Rd8 28.Ne6 Rd7 29.Ng5 1-0


(Lindenwood-A team, from left Nolan Hendrickson, Myself, Nicholas Rosenthal, and Alex Richter)


We got the tough pairing of UTD-A, that we were expecting in round 2. We put up good fight with the black pieces in the board 1 and 3, and I even went on to create a little scare for the UTD-A by beating Conrad Holt, when all the other games were still being played out. LU-A  players on board 2 and 4, had a mediocre or horrible position out of the opening with the white pieces, and lost their games, after a prolonged battle. The final score was 1-3 in favor of UTD-A.

Holt,Conrad (2549) - Priydharshan,K (2462)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Nbd2 b6 5.a3 Bxd2+ 6.Nxd2

I think this variation can be named after Conrad Holt, as he is a regular follower of this rare line
6...Bb7 7.Qc2 Nc6

7...c5 I analyzed this line, over 8 hours in deep analysis mode in the night before the round, and in the end found that white had a very pleasant position, so I decided to find something over the board
8.e3 Ne7


Something that was interesting, but isn't that good according to my computer, when I prepared
9.e4 d6 10.Bd3 e5 11.Nf3

My little preparation stopped at this point, and I knew my computer was saying black was slightly worse! I decided to find something interesting over the board, and that's how I found this

11...Ng6 12.0-0 0-0 13.dxe5 dxe5 14.c5
12.Be3 exd4 13.Bxd4?

13.Nxd4 Nc5 14.f3 0-0 15.0-0 Nxd3 16.Qxd3 Qd7 17.Qb3 Kh8²
13...0-0!? 14.0-0-0 Ng6 15.Kb1 Nf4
14.Bxg7 Rg8 15.Bc3 Rxg2 16.0-0-0 Qe7

16...Nce5 17.Nxe5 Qg5+ 18.Kb1 Nxe5
17.e5 dxe5 18.Bf5?!

18.Be4 0-0-0 19.Nxe5 Qg5+ 20.Bd2 Qxe5 21.Bxg2 Nd4 22.Bxb7+ Kxb7 23.f4 Qe8 24.Rhe1 Nxc2 25.Rxe8 Rxe8; 18.Bxh7 0-0-0 19.Bf5 Kb8÷
18...0-0-0 19.Bxh7?

19.Rxd7 Rxd7 20.Rd1 Nd4! 21.Bxd7+ Qxd7 22.Nxe5 Nxc2 23.Rxd7 Rxf2 24.Rd2 Rxd2 25.Kxd2 Be4 26.Nxf7 Kd7 27.Ne5+ Ke6 28.Nd3 Na1 29.b4 Nb3+ 30.Ke3 Kf5=
19...Qc5 20.Bf5?
20.Qd3 Rxf2 21.Rhe1 Nf8 22.Bf5+ Ne6 23.Qe3 Qxe3+ 24.Rxe3 Rxd1+ 25.Kxd1 Ne7 26.Bxe6+ fxe6 27.Nxe5 Rxh2 28.Nf7 Kd7 29.Ne5+ Ke8
20...Rxf2 21.Qd3 Nd4 22.Nxd4 Bxh1?!


22...exd4 23.Bxd7+ Rxd7 24.Rhg1 Bf3 25.Bxd4 Qc6 26.Bxf2 Rxd3 27.Rxd3 Qxc4+ 28.Rc3 Qf4+ 29.Be3 Qxh2 30.Re1-+

23.Nc2 Rxf5 24.Qxf5 Qc6 25.Nb4 Qf3 26.Qxf3 Bxf3 27.Rf1 e4 28.Nc6 Rf8µ
23...Rxf5 24.Qxf5 Qe3+ 25.Bd2 Qf3

25...Qe4?? Throws away the advantage 26.Qxe4 Bxe4 27.Bg5 Rg8 28.Nxa7+ Kb8 29.Rxd7 Rxg5=

26.Qxf3 Bxf3 27.Re1 (27.Rf1 Be2 28.Rxf7 Bxc4 29.Bg5 Bxf7 30.Nxa7+ Kb7 31.Bxd8 Kxa7-+; 27.Nxa7+ Kb7 28.Bg5 Bxd1 29.Bxd8 Bb3 30.Nb5 Bxc4) 27...Nc5-+
26...Qxf5 27.Rxf5 Nc5
This move seals the game!

28.Rf1 Bg2 29.Rg1 Be4-+; 28.Kd1 Ne4-+
28...Nb3+ 29.Kc2 Nxd2 30.b3 Be4+ 31.Kb2 Rd3 32.Nc3 Bc6 33.Kc2 Rd4 34.h4 Nf3 35.h5 Rd2+ 36.Kc1 Rh2 37.Rf6 Nd4 38.h6 Kb7 39.Kd1 e4 0-1


There was a pairing scare for us in round 3, as we were paired to played University of Illinois-A, who were only a seed above us in the initial rankings. After we went and protested about the pairing, the TD found that, this tough pairing was made to avoid a pairing clash between LU-A and LU-B, and University of Illinois A and University of Illinois C. After a few minutes of discussion, the arbiter found that, he can pair LU-A against Illinois-C and LU-B against Illinois-A. We managed to beat Illinois-C with a score line of 3-1, although they managed to upset our board 4 in a wildly tactical game.

I guess the pairing software, wanted to see lot of Midwest clashes in the tournament, so we got paired against University of Illinois-B in round 4, and they were eager to pull off an upset, to avenge their "C" team loss to us in the previous round. I got a huge advantage out of opening, and then started playing atrocious moves, to lose my game against Michael Auger. In Board 2, Alex Richter missed lot of winning chances, and managed to only draw his game. Luckily, Nolan Hendrickson had a clean win on board 3, and Nicholas Rosenthal had to play an inferior position for a long time, before holding a draw. The match ended in a tie, and with that ended our slimmest chances of making it to the Final Four.

The Midwest pairings continued in round 5 and this time, we got paired with Washington University of St.Louis. My bad play continued into round 4, but I somehow managed to hold my nerves together, and pulled off a draw, from an inferior position. Alex Richter, the board 2 for Lindenwood, got a free point, as his opponent Nick Karlow, made a horrible blunder in the middle game. Nolan Hendrickson was in trouble for some time, but he capitalized on his opponents lack of experience, to pull off a draw. Nicholas Rosenthal, had a tactical melee on board 4, and managed to bring home, the whole point. The final score line, was 3-1 in favor of LU.

You need lot of luck in the pairings in the final round, so that you get an easy team, and manage to beat them. This time, we had no luck in the final round pairings, and we got paired against UTB who were one of the favorites to make it to the Final 4, but lost few crucial games, and were trailing LU-A by 1/2 point going into the final round.

I had a pretty interesting game against Anton Kovalyov in board 1, and I also have to mention that, I had to turn down a draw offer in the middle game, due to my team situation, and in the end blundered and lost. Alex Richter played the longest game of the whole tournament against Andrey Stukopin. He had a worse position out of opening, but managed to turn the tables in time trouble, but then he missed a few killer blows, allowing his opponent to build a rook and knight fortress against the white queen. In the end, Alex lost his game, due to flagging in a drawn position, after a marathon 5 hour and 40 minute game.

On board 3, Nolan Hendrickson, went desperado after finding that we were losing as a team. He spoilt his good position and lost against GM Holden Hernandez. The only silver lining of this matchup for us was the quick win of Nicholas Rosenthal over Katerina Nemcova. More than half of the moves in that game were home preparation by our team, perfectly executed by Rosenthal.

LU-A finished 15th in final standings with a 3.5-2.5 score, which is certainly a disappointing result for us as a team. I would like to congratulate the Final four qualifiers, and also the organizers of this event, as they did a splendid job in organizing the event, without any major incidents/hiccups.

I have lightly annotated few interesting games from the tournament.

Bregadze,L (2459) - Diamant,A (2465)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0

I have seen so many games of Levan playing the King's Indian Defense with black, but never with white!

The recent fad in the KID is to stop black from expanding in the kingside. A more positional approach is what this small wood move aims for!
6...e5 7.d5 a5 8.Bg5 Na6 9.Be2 Qe8 10.g4 Nd7 11.Nd2
A common plan to prop the white kingside pawn structure with f3
The most popular move is 11...Ndc5 12.Rg1 Kh8 13.a3
12.h4 f6 13.Be3 f5 14.f3 Nf6
Black has a very comfortable position.
15.h5 f4 16.Bf2 gxh5 17.g5 Ng8 18.Qc2 Qg6 19.0-0-0 Qxg5 20.Rdg1 Qh6

Even though white is two pawns down, he has enough compensation thanks to the open g-file and semi open h-file.
21.Qd1 Bd7 22.Rh2 Bf6 23.Bf1 Ne7 24.Rgh1 Be8 25.Bh3 Rg8 26.Bg4 Rg5

Black has used all his resources to save the h5 pawn, as without that pawn, black's king is highly exposed


White cracks after the accurate defense of Black.
27.Kb1 b6 28.Qf1 Nb8 29.Qe2 Nd7 30.Nb5 Rc8 31.Na7 Ra8 32.Nb5 A very interesting repetition! This position is basically a mutual zugzwang, and the best result for both sides would be to repeat moves.
Giving up material is not always bad!
28.Bxg5 Qxg5
The minor pieces are valued more than rooks in this position, as there are no good squares for the rooks.

29.Rxh7+ Kg8 30.fxg4 Bg6 31.R7h6 Bg7
29...Bg6 30.Qf3 Nc5 31.Nd1 Bg7 32.Nf2 c6 33.Kd1 Kg8 34.Nb3 Nxb3 35.Qxb3 cxd5 36.Qxb7 Rc8 37.Qd7 dxe4 38.Qe6+ Kh8
It's really an artistic position in the middle of the board, with such a huge pawnmass for black 39.Qxd6 e3 40.Nd3 Qxg4+ 41.Ke1 f3 42.Qxe7 Bxd3

White has had enough, so he decides to resign and go home! I really liked how black steamrolled white after one big inaccuracy on move 27. 0-1

Kosintseva,N (2489) - Zherebukh,Y (2631)

1.e4 Nf6
Alekhine in this high level is a rare guest.
2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4
White goes for the modern approach, instead of the classical Nf3
4...Nb6 5.exd6 exd6
If black is pushing really hard for a win, this recapture is advisable, as there is an imbalance in pawn structure leading to interesting positions 5...cxd6.
I personally prefer to delay developing my kingside by playing waiting moves like Nc3-Be3-Rc1, so that I can choose to put my bishop on e2 or d3 later.
6...Be7 7.Nf3 0-0 8.0-0 Bg4 9.Nc3 Re8
The theoretical line is 9...Nc6 10.b3 Bf6 11.Be3 d5 12.c5 Nc8 13.h3 and White is slightly better
10.b3 Bf6 11.Be3 c6 12.h3 Bh5
I think the rook can do a better job on a1, with the a4-a5 plan
13.Qd2 Bg6 14.Rfe1 N8d7 15.a4 a5 16.Rac1
The way black develops his pieces is so harmonious! It is only possible, when you have a really good feel for the position.
14.Re1 Nc7 15.Qd2 d5


Fixing the pawn structure is the cause of downfall for white. [16.Nh2 Bxe2 17.Nxe2]
Black is slightly better as the bishop on e3 is very bad and there is not much scope for white pieces to improve from here, whereas black has plenty of scope.
17.b4 Ne6 18.Nh2 Bxe2 19.Nxe2 g6 20.Ng4 Bg7 21.Nf4 Ndf8 22.Nxe6 Nxe6 23.Bh6 Bh8


It is important to preserve the dark squared bishop, as all the white pawns are fixed on dark squares, so they are potential targets in the future.
24.Bf4 h5 25.Ne5 Qh4 26.Be3 Bxe5 27.dxe5 d4

The white square is pretty much doomed, as the knight on e6 dominates the bishop
28.Bh6 Kh7 29.Kh2 Qe7 30.Bf4 a5 31.bxa5 Qc7 32.Bg3 Qxa5 33.Qd3 Qxa2 34.Qf3 Kg8 35.Rb1 Re7 36.Qf6 Rd7 37.f4 Qc2 38.Ra1 Re8 39.Qh4 Qf5

 This game was a positional masterpiece from black. 0-1

Robson,R (2651) - Hernandez Carmenates,Hold (2537)

Pan-Am Intercollegiate South Padre Island USA (5.2), 29.12.2014

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 c5 6.Be3 cxd4 7.Nxd4 Ne7 8.0-0 a6

My good guess is black forgot the theory at this point, and found this over the board [The main move with lots of games 8...Nbc6 9.Bb5 Rc8 10.Nd2 a6 11.Bxc6+ bxc6 12.Qe2 Volokitin-Vachier Lagrave 2013]
9.Nd2 Nbc6 10.N2f3 Be4 11.c4 dxc4 12.Bxc4 Bxf3?

I am not a huge fan of giving up the bishop pair, without getting much in return 12...Nxd4 13.Nxd4 Bd5 14.Rc1 Qd7 15.Nb3 White is slightly better.
13.Nxf3 Qxd1 14.Rfxd1 h6 15.h4!

15...Ng6 16.Bd3!!

A deep pawn sac
16...Ngxe5 17.Nxe5 Nxe5 18.Be4 Nc6 19.Rac1 Rc8 20.Rd3 f5 21.Bf3 g6 22.Rdc3 Bd6

22...Bg7 23.Rb3 0-0 24.Rxb7 Ne5 25.Be2
23.Bxc6+ Rxc6 24.Rxc6 bxc6 25.Rxc6 Kd7 26.Rxa6


Literally game over! The way white outplayed black was just class! Black only made a few inaccuracies in the opening and that is enough for a 2650 to punish.
26...Rb8 27.Rb6 Ra8 28.a3 f4 29.Bd2 Rc8 30.Bc3 Bxa3 31.Rb7+ Kd6 32.Rg7 Rc4 33.Rxg6 Bb4 34.Bg7 h5 35.Rg5 Rc1+ 36.Kh2 Be1 37.Be5+ Ke7 38.Bxf4 Rc2 39.Rxh5 Bxf2 40.Be5 Kf7 41.Kh3 Re2 42.Rg5 Be3 43.Rg7+ Kf8 44.Rb7 Bc5 45.Bg7+ Kg8 46.h5 Re3+ 47.Kh4 Re4+ 48.g4 Bf2+ 49.Kh3 Be3 50.Bf6 1-0