Wrapping It All Up

Now that I am back in Prague and I have had some time to reflect on the tournament, I would like to offer some final thoughts and some stats that I think are worth reviewing.

 

My USCF rating is 1738 – I was shocked to discover it had dropped that much — which converts to 1629 FIDE.

 

My fide performance rating based on this tournament is 1846, which converts to 1874 USCF. This is a full 136 points higher than my current USCF rating, and over 200 points higher than the FIDE equivalent of my current USCF rating.

 

The average FIDE rating of my opponents was 1926, which converts to 1924 USCF.

 

The rating of the lowest-rated opponent I faced was 1850 –, which equals 1876 USCF.

 

I had black in five rounds and white in four.

 

I finished with 3.5/9. This is not a great score by any measure, but I hope the above statistics give readers a sense of the strength of the competition I faced.

 

Players from 31 countries competed in the event, coming from as far away as Bolivia, Puerto Rico, India and Egypt.

 

My greatest disappointment is knowing that there may not be another opportunity for me or other USBCA players to compete in this or other IBCA events unless more members take an active interest in over-the-board competition.

 

Just over 10 days ago, I walked off the bus and into the Mediterranean Village Hotel as the first U.S. representative at the IBCA World Championship in quite some time. My goals were modest. Despite not meeting the goal of scoring 4.5 points, I am proud and honored to have represented the USBCA at the event. I was a good sport, and I gave the best I could each day. No doubt that on some days I played better than on others. I was ranked 81 on the initial wall chart. In the final standings, I finished 73rd out of 94 players. Only one of the 13 other unrated players finished ahead of me in the final standings. Could I have achieved a better result? Perhaps I should have, but I did not make the decisive moves at the right time.

 

Competing in the event was a tremendously fulfilling and personally enriching experience, and I hope the USBCA builds on this effort by participating in other IBCA tournaments, such as upcoming Pan-American competitions, or by sending a team to the next Olympiad, which has been pushed back to 2017.

 

But you do not have to travel around the world to compete in over-the-board tournaments. Wherever you live, whether in New Mexico, Wyoming or Alabama, your state has a chess federation that organizes all sorts of tournaments, and there is surely a local club nearby. You can find out about clubs in your area and the activities of your state’s USCF affiliate by going to http://uschess.org. You can play casual over-the-board chess at your local club even if you are not a USCF member. Such clubs usually charge a nominal membership fee to join – sometimes as low as $10 per year. You do have to join the USCF to play in rated tournaments, but it is not as expensive as you might think. USCF dues for blind players are $18 a year, or a one-time payment of $375 for a USCF life-time membership. If you have questions about this, you can contact the USCF directly, write to me, or post a message to the USBCA list. No other form of chess matches the excitement and the thrill of playing over-the-board competition and meeting your opponent face-to-face. So give it a try! Also, if you are a USBCA member, and you have an opinion on the issue of whether or not the USBCA should continue to send representatives to IBCA over-the-board tournaments, make your voice heard. I come down firmly in the yes camp on this question. You can read the first post on my blog if you want to know more about the effort it took to get me to this tournament. That will help you assess whether you are ready to make the commitment to pull it off.

Finishing on a Down Note

Another loss today, so I finished with 3.5/9. My opponent blundered in the opening, and I failed to take advantage of the mistake. After that, I never really recovered. The stomach ailments I have been dealing with since late yesterday aside, I should have recognized the opportunity when it presented itself. I plan to post some final thoughts in the next day or two after I get a look at the final results. Right now, I prefer to post only the game with some commentary. I am not in the best frame of mind to sum up the tournament.

 

[Event “13th IBCA Individual Championship”]

[Site “Katerini, Olympus Riviera”]

[Date “2014.05.14”]

[Round “9”]

[White “Bindzus, Ernst”]

[Black “Barrasso, Alexander”]

[Result “1-0”]

[ECO “C29”]

[WhiteElo “1896”]

[PlyCount “81”]

[EventDate “2014.05.05”]

[EventType “swiss”]

[EventRounds “9”]

[EventCountry “GRE”]

 

1. e4 e5 2. f4 d5 3. exd5 exf4 4. Bc4 Nf6? {Much better was 4. … Qh4+ 5. Kf1 f3 discovering an attack on White’s c4 bishop by the queen on h4. I do not know how I missed this. That position gives black a much higher chance of winning than I ever had in this game.} 5. Nc3 Bd6 6. d4 O-O 7. Nge2 Bg4 8. O-O Nh5 {I looked for all sorts of combinations here involving f3 and Bxh2+, but could not find anything convincing.} 9. Ne4 Re8 10. Nxd6 Qxd6 11. Qd2 f3 12. gxf3 Bh3 13. Rf2 Bf5 {An attempt to avoid trading pieces when White plays Nf4.} 14. Rg2 Nd7 15. Bb3 Re7 {Better was 15. … h6 to stop white from playing Qg5.} 16. Qg5 Bg6 17. Bf4 Qf6 18. Qxf6 Ndxf6 {I thought I might win some material here, but white has a simple response.} 19. Be5 Rae8 20. Ng3 h6 {I could not find anything better to do. Kf8 would have left me vulnerable to d6 and white’s bishop pinning my rook to my king.} 21. Nxh5 Nxh5 22. d6 cxd6 23. Bxd6 Re3 24. Rxg6 Rxb3 25. axb3 fxg6 26. Rxa7 Re1+ {Black is lost here. I only played on because my opponent was in time pressure.} 27. Kf2 Rc1 28. Ra8+ Kh7 29. Rc8 Rd1 30. Be5 g5 31. Ke2 Rg1 32. d5 Rg2+ 33. Ke3 Rg1 34. Kd4 Kg6 35. c4 Rd1+ 36. Kc5 Rd3 37. d6 Nf6 38. Bxf6 Kxf6 39. Re8 Kf7 40. Re7+ Kf6 41. Rxb7 1-0

A Tough Loss

I simply got outplayed today in round 8. Our opening preparation did not pay off – my opponent made some necessary adjustments to the line he had been playing against 1. E4. I missed some attacking chances in the early middle game. The decisive factor was black’s strong center pawns, which I did not deal with appropriately. Tomorrow is the final round. I have black against Ernst Bindzus from Denmark.

 

[Event “13th IBCA Individual Championship”]

[Site “Katerini, Olympus Riviera”]

[Date “2014.05.13”]

[Round “8”]

[White “Barrasso, Alexander”]

[Black “Buchkov, Yuri”]

[Result “0-1”]

[ECO “B06”]

[BlackElo “1933”]

[PlyCount “58”]

[EventDate “2014.05.05”]

[EventType “swiss”]

[EventRounds “9”]

[EventCountry “GRE”]

 

1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Be3 {In his first round game, my opponent played Nf6 in this position against one of the top players and lost quickly. I was hoping to get into that same line.} 4. … Nd7 5. Qd2 e5 6. d5 {Probably my first mistake. Castling queen’s side would have been better, or perhaps even Nf3.} 6. … f5 {It now becomes difficult for white to retake the center.} 7. exf5 gxf5 8. f4 {In lieu of f4, Fritz suggests g3.} 8. … Ndf6 9. Nge2 Ne7 10. O-O-O a6 11. fxe5 dxe5 12. Bh6 Rg8 13. Bxg7 Rxg7 14. Ng3 b5 15. d6 {Unfortunately, this leads to a series of exchanges, which leave black with an advantage. Be2 would have been better with the idea of Nh5.} 15. … cxd6 16. Qxd6 Qxd6 17. Rxd6 Ng4 18. Be2 Bb7 19. Bf3 e4 20. Bxg4 Rxg4 21. Rf1 {Rhd1 would have been better, but black still would have maintained his advantage.} 21. … Rg6 22. Rfd1 e3 23. Rxg6 hxg6 24. Rd3 Rd8 25. Rxd8+ {Rxe3 loses to f4} 25. … Kxd8 26. Kd1 Bxg2 {And White isa ll but lost.} 27. Ke2 f4 28. Nge4 Nf5 29. Nc5 f3+ 0-1

Have You Ever Sacrificed Two Rooks for a Bishop and Not Lost?

A very exciting game today full of ups and downs. I was paired against Stephen Hilton from Scotland rated 1915. Stephen tends to play 1. Nf3. Wanting to avoid the Queen’s Indian and Queen’s Gambit Declined variations, we prepared to counter with 1. … c5. The risk here is that white could transpose into a Sicilian with 2. E4. We could not find any games Stephen played with e4, so we banked on him not playing that. We turned out to be right. I came out of the opening well enough, but an inaccuracy in the early middle game left me in a very defensive position for what seemed like an eternity. Once I took the steam out of his attack, it was my turn to go on the offensive. I sacrificed both my rooks for a bishop to get what looked like a mating attack. Turns out Stephen could have defended the mate, but neither he nor I saw the move. When we agreed to a draw, I was in very severe time pressure and missed the final moves that would have checkmated him. All in all, a fair result. I will refrain from commenting on individual moves tonight because the analysis is extremely complex. Tomorrow I have white against Yuri Buchkov from Belarus rated 1933.

 

[Event “13th IBCA Individual Championship”]

[Site “Katerini, Olympus Riviera”]

[Date “2014.05.12”]

[Round “7”]

[White “Hilton, Stephen H”]

[Black “Barrasso, Alexander”]

[Result “1/2-1/2”]

[ECO “A43”]

[WhiteElo “1915”]

[PlyCount “78”]

[EventDate “2014.05.05”]

[EventType “swiss”]

[EventRounds “9”]

[EventCountry “GRE”]

 

1. Nf3 c5 2. g3 d5 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e5 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Nf6 7. O-O Bf5 8. Bg5 Be7 9. c4 d4 10. Nbd2 h6 11. Bxf6 Bxf6 12. Ne1 Qd7 13. Ne4 Be7 14. Nd3 O-O 15. Qa4 Rac8 16. b4 Qd8 17. b5 Na5 18. Rac1 f6 19. Rfd1 Be6 20. Nd2 b6 21. Nb4 Kh8 22. Nc6 Nxc6 23. Bxc6 Qc7 24. Nb3 Rfd8 25. Nd2 f5 26. Nf3 Bf6 27. Ne1 f4 28. Nd3 fxg3 29. hxg3 Bf5 30. Nb4 Qf7 31. Bd5 Qg6 32. Nc6 Rxd5 33. cxd5 Be4 34. Kf1 Bg5 35. Ne7 Qh5 36. Rxc8+ Kh7 37. e3 Qh1+ 38. Ke2 Qf3+ 39. Kf1 Qh1+ 1/2-1/2