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Sarkar on the Boardwalk Print E-mail
By IM Justin Sarkar   
November 11, 2013
The Boardwalk Open was an encouraging success for me where I took clear first by a whole point and furthermore, felt satisfied with my play in 4 out of 5 games. I wrote a piece for CLO in September shortly after a breakthrough result of making my second GM norm, and should probably let that article do most of the talking! This piece will report briefly on the Boardwalk Open followed by making a little joke about my inconsistency as a chess player.
I chose the 2-day option, so rounds 1 and 2 were G/90. It was a pretty strong schedule with top seeds GM Kacheishvili and GM-elect Krush, along with Igor Sorkin (ranked just below me in the high 2400s) who I ended up playing in the second round! 

I got the ball rolling Saturday morning because first rounds are often particularly tough regardless of the opponent's rating. I won a game against a 2100 where overall I efficiently exploit his mistakes to capitalize on my superior position.
By Sunday I was off to a promising 3/3 start, after beating Sorkin in round 2 in a complicated game followed by converting a better position in the evening against Jared Defibaugh (who was off to a truly amazing start, having scored a big win round 1 against the tournament favorite Kacheishvili, followed by pulling off a mild upset win as black in round 2).
In round 4, I had white against Arthur Shen, who also had 3/3. Arthur is a very strong youngster, already an FM over 2400. He has lately been doing very well against extremely strong players and I expect will shortly become an IM. I got really lucky to win a surprising miniature when he blundered out of the opening on move 11. These sort of accidents or hallucinations happen to everyone (not to mention with me fairly recently) and I definitely think it's best to stay strong and not get too discouraged.

With 4/4 I was leading by a full point and managed to hold a fairly solid draw as black against GM-elect Krush, albeit not without a scary moment of feeling that I'd erred from a theoretical position. I'd been using just vague recollections to guide me (as a warning, try such approach at your own risk!) and had misremembered something.  


Fortunately black's position held itself together solidly and as for the game continuation my 20...Qe7! was a very important move to foresee in my calculations, comfortably equalizing despite overlooking on my following turn the even more precise and elegant 21...Rad8! Regardless, the game quickly became quite sterile with little to be done by either side and she offered a draw on move 26.
Finishing a point behind me with 3.5/5 were the three top seeds aside from me including Giorgi Kacheishvili. Speaking of Giorgi, I've had some time off from working with him but might want to consider taking another lesson. I think he's happy for my recent successes under challenging life circumstances. 

Trying to reestablish a working coach-student rapport with Giorgi might be helpful for someone like me, considering one of my greatest strengths is also my biggest weakness: I'm rather inconsistent. On a good day I'll beat a world class GM, on a bad day I'll lose or draw to significantly lower rated players. Everyone has good and bad days though I'd probably classify my range of fluctuation as above average. With my degree of inconsistency as a "strong IM" I'll gladly call myself the Vassily Ivanchuk of IMs :)