Insane Tactic

I was going through some games, and I came across one which had an extremely exciting and complicated position. The game was between former Chinese Super GM Ni, Hua, and Vietnamese Super GM Le Quang, Liem.

Going back to the position before move h5, your move is to find the winning combination for Black. Take your time, because it’s quite difficult; probably an 8 on a scale of 10 :).

Black to move. Good Luck!

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Washington International 2014
Sand through my Hands

Rockville, Maryland. That’s where I was headed next for the Washington International 2014 chess tournament.  I was extremely excited for this chess tournament, and eager to make amends for the disappointing result at the North American Junior Chess in Canada a few days prior. My dad, brother, and I took the morning Amtrak train which dropped us off at Union Station, followed by taking the local metro to Rockville. We reached the Hilton Hotel venue by late afternoon, after an ~5-hour journey. The first round began the next morning.  But there was a blitz tournament that evening, which I decided to play. I’ve enjoyed lot of success playing blitz chess online, beating a few big names, but my results are not so spectacular over the board for some reason. The tournament was a double-match, meaning we played the same player, once with each color. I didn’t play particularly well, muddling through the tournament with uninspired chess, but managed to beat a GM 2-0 in the last round :) . On to the main tournament now!

I was seeded #14, out of ~50 players, with a 2472 rating, which meant I’d play lower rated for the first two rounds.  There were many strong players at the top, the highest one being the young Ukranian chess phenom GM Ilya Nyzhnyk, with a rating of 2638. In the first round, I was paired with a young, strong chess player, Kesav Viswanadha (2253 FIDE). It was an interesting game, where I blockaded the Queen-side, nullifying his play, and aimed to win the game on the Kingside. He tried to create some play by sacrificing a pawn in the center, but he never got any compensation for it and I was just a healthy pawn up. My two bishops came alive, while his knights were poorly placed and had literally no squares. I transposed to an endgame, and won shortly after.

In the second round I faced another bright youngster, Kevin Wang (2348 FIDE), and played Black.  Kevin was coming off a win against GM Fidel Corrales (2566 FIDE), so it was essential I brought my A-game. Unfortunately, I brought my D-game :( . I surprised him in the opening with a rare move, hoping it would rattle him. Now that I think about it though, it was hardly a move to write home about :) . White has a plethora of options, all which guarantee him a slight edge or equality. Kevin made a slight inaccuracy however, which allowed me to build up a slight advantage after playing natural moves. But at a critical juncture I erred, and dissolved my advantage after a series of bad moves. I was now barely hanging on and fighting for a draw, not to mention I was down to less than a minute and was surviving solely on the increment. Luckily for me, Kevin missed a couple of forced wins and made some inaccuracies which dissipated his advantage. On move 33, he played Bc5 which turned out to be a blunder, and I missed a queen sacrifice which led to a forced win. Well that’s what happens when I shoot myself in the foot by making bad moves, and very importantly not managing my time well. The game ended in a draw few moves later, something I was grateful for, but was still pretty annoyed at missing my golden opportunity to win after a hard and stressful defense. The only reason this chess game didn’t get an F-grade, was because I managed not to lose :P .

I was faced with another lower rated in R3, local chess player William Morrison (2267 FIDE) who was having a great tournament. He had logged an upset in R1 against GM-elect Darwin Yang, and drawn with GM Ioan Christan Chirila in R2. William played the highly popular Breyer variation, known for it’s solidity, against my Ruy Lopez. After some thought, I decided to take action on the Kingside by opening things up with 23.f4.

This f4 was a high-risk high-reward type of move. While it did open up lines in the center and on the Kingside for my Rooks and other pieces, Black had the e5 square at it’s disposal; the perfect square for his Knight. I had to make sure that my threats broke through, so he didn’t get time to consolidate and plant his Knight on e5 permanently. That’s exactly what happened, and as often happens when one is under pressure, he made the decisive mistake. I found the winning plan, but when it was time to make the key move in my sequence, I ended up forgetting about it and making an atrocious move instead.

After that, things should have headed for a draw (although I would have probably sacrificed my g5 pawn to retain some minuscule chances). Luckily for me, he blundered 2 moves later and this time I capitalized on it, and sealed the deal. I was now on 2.5/3, but I was highly dissatisfied with my last 2 games, in which I could have been severely punished for being ignorant, and forgetful.

I received a double White in Round 4, which pitted me against a higher rated GM Sergey Azarov (2635 FIDE) from Belarus. He had been playing many chess tournaments since the start of summer in the U.S,  and was having some good results, finishing tied second at the NY International, DC International, and World Open ; performing above his rating in all these extremely strong tournaments. I surprised him by playing an unusual and slightly rare move in the opening, after which he began to consume a lot of time. He recaptured with his knight, which came as a surprise to me as I was expecting the pawn recapture.

Then it was my turn to consume lot of time, and pretty soon we were both level on time at around ~45 minutes each. The game became roughly equal, but not entirely devoid of chances. I was playing extremely solidly, trying to limit his play, while not overextending myself trying to win. That’s usually a good plan against higher rated – don’t force things when there isn’t anything, let them force because the pressure is on them to win. Pretty soon we traded down to an endgame which was slightly better for me, but I didn’t see any way to make advantage of my Rook on the 7th rank, and so forced a repetition of moves.

So 3 points out of 4, not bad, but still a long way to go. I was faced against GM Mark Paragua (2489 FIDE) from the Philippines in R5. I had played him a few months earlier at the Marshall GM Invitational, where I had earned my first GM Norm. Aah, memories :) . I covered that for Chessbase, click here  and here to read about it. Don’t click anywhere if you want to finish reading this article :D . Ever since Mark started playing in the U.S., he has been playing only one line as White – The Trompowsky. D4 followed by Bg5, regardless of what the opponent played (Of course, he wouldn’t play Bg5 if the opponent played 1.h6,1.f6, or 1.e6 :). I had prepared my usual way of playing against it, when minutes before the game I decided to switch to something else which seemed to offer better chances. As a result, I opened up with 1.d5. Mark seemed to be slightly surprised, but as expected he followed up with 2.Bg5. I then responded with 2.f6 !?, the idea I had wanted to employ. It seems like a weird move, but thanks to f6, Black is able build up a formidable center.

I had briefly looked at one variation in this line before the game, and as luck would have it Mark went straight into it. But unfortunately, I forgot the continuation which I had looked at for myself. I wracked my brains trying to remember, but as luck wouldn’t have it, I couldn’t. It wasn’t so much of a big deal though, and I think I managed pretty well.

So it ended in a draw, after a fighting game filled with some distinct plans and ideas. That put me at 3.5/5, still in the mix of things, but I needed a win to breakout. I  played Mark’s compatriot in the 6th round, GM Barbosa Oliver (2540 FIDE). He had been struggling in his transition from the Philippines to the US chess circuit, but that was no indication of his real strength. He had won the extremely strong Kolkata Open 2014 in India a few months ago, beating several strong players enroute to his victory. I had Black again, which made sense as I had a double White earlier.  As weird as it may sound, I wasn’t able to prepare for him because he didn’t have many recent games in my lines. So I didn’t really know what to expect from him. The game turned out to be rather bland, as the evaluation never strayed from being equal. He played the Catalan, and we followed theory for about 20 moves, before I unknowingly played a novelty. We traded the heavy pieces after that, and drew a few moves later in an opposite colored bishop endgame.

A rather boring, bloodless draw that was. I was now 4/6, and was facing GM Giorgi Margvelashvilli (2556 FIDE) with the White pieces. This brought my opponent average rating of to 2440, which meant a GM norm would be 6.5 points. That was quite a tall order, and meant that I required 2.5/3. So I was already in a must-win situation essentially. The game didn’t start of too well, as I was unpleasantly surprised in the opening by Giorgi’s opening choice. He opted for the Benoni, something which he had almost never played before.

The Benoni is an extremely complex opening, and often leads to rich middle games, with many different ideas and plans for both sides. Since I couldn’t prepare for this chess line, I already found myself out of theory by move 10. He seemed to know the line for a couple more moves, but by move 15 we were both on our own – And so the battle began!  Both of us began our operations, and the next 7 moves were devoted to maneuvering our pieces, preparing our respective plans to provoke some chinks in the enemy’s armor. That led to this critical position:

So I was now 2 pawns up, and the position was an easy win. I then made a rash decision and decided to trade Queens , thinking it’ll be an easy win as I simply roll my Kingside pawns up the board. But things turned out to be not so simple at all. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening. It turns out there was only one winning plan in that position. I nearly suffered a heart attack, thinking that I had bungled the win! I settled down after the brief moments of paranoia, frantically searching for the winning plan. I began to think there might not be a win at all, and that I had compromised everything, when the winning plan sprung into my mind, just as Archimedes had sprung from his bathtub and exclaimed “Eureka.”  Phew!  It would have been a shame to ruin a well played game against a strong player, due to being hasty.

Yeah Baby! That was a really satisfying win, as I felt it was one of the better games I had ever played, and it came against a really strong Grandmaster. The ending reminded me of Game 8 in the Topalov-Anand World Championship in 2010. The major difference though was that Anand blundered in a drawn endgame, although a tough and accurate defense was required,while my ending was winning all along.

I was now 5/7, and my next pairing was with the highest rated player in the tournament, Ukraine chess prodigy GM Illya Nyzhynk (2638 FIDE). He was the 11th youngest person to become a GM at the time, clocking in at 14 years 3 months and 2 days. Illya is very modest, polite, and humble. He’s someone who is a chess role model to us youngsters who are aspiring to become a GM at a young age. I was extremely excited to see how would I match up against him, and was revving to go. Boy, did we have a game for the ages.

I emerged with a slight advantage in the opening, and kept on increasing it with powerful moves. Just as it seemed he had solved all his problems, POW, I pounded forward with striking blows. I was in tremendous form, and was literally playing the chess of my life. Eventually I created what should have been a decisive advantage, but was unable to find the killer blow. My advantage fizzled out and the game ended in a draw. I was extremely disappointed, as a win would have meant that a draw in the last round would be enough for a GM norm. When I went back and analyzed the game, I wasn’t able to find a clear win, but neither did the computer, at first, before eventually finding a way . I found out something else that was quite extraordinary. Illya and I had followed the game Carlsen-Gelfand from the 2013 Candidates Tournament for 29 moves (!) moves! Who said two games are never the same? :) Magnus converted the very same position into a win against Gelfand, while I had to settle for a draw. Despite not finishing off the game, I was extremely proud to have found some powerful moves, just as Magnus did. We reached the following position after the opening, and shortly after, the fireworks began!

A draw may have seemed like a good result on paper, but considering the opportunity I had, it was not that good. I would need to play a 2530+ in the last round, in order to need just a draw for the GM norm. Unfortunately though, the pairings didn’t go my way, and I found myself faced against the prodiguous 13-year old, IM Samuel Sevian (2454 FIDE). So that meant I needed a win for the norm, a challenge which was made more difficult since I had Black as well. Samuel had been having a great tournament, and he needed a draw in the last round for his GM norm. We had played earlier in the St. Louis Classic Round Robin, where I had bungled a winning advantage, turned down a draw, and lost. Maybe I could even things up now.

So this is what it came down too, two youngsters vying to fulfill their dreams. Samuel surprised me in the opening with an uncommon move on move 3, to which I reacted horribly and essentially blew all my winning chances right there and then on move 5.

It was really quite a miracle I drew,  Although to be fair, I willfully put myself in that situation trying to create some winning chances. At the end, we both had 6.5 points, but only Sevian had the norm. I congratulated Sevian, before exiting the playing hall with a feeling of regret and anguish. I had come tantalizingly close to a GM norm once again, and had missed it once more due to a technicality by the slightest of margins; since if my average opponent’s rating had been 2 points higher, a draw would have sufficed for a norm in the last round. But at least I knew I had given it my all. One thing for sure that was definitely poor from my side was my inability to overcome lower rated earlier in the tournament. That came back to hurt me, and I ended up paying a high price for it. I want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The norm opportunity was tantalizingly close before it faded away.  It was like holding on to sand – slipping right through my fingers.

Life isn’t always a walk in the park, with everything falling your way. Setbacks will happen, but it’s important we learn from them, and take them in stride. This was a learning experience, a painful one no doubt. It’s an experience i’m going to use, and come back swinging harder. After all, “The road to success is always under construction.”

TS7

 

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The Chicago Open 2014
Stricter Rules on Players Leaving the Playing Area

Recently I learnt about a comment being floated by chess player Gopal Menon.  He is aggrieved at two incidents that occurred at the Chicago Open in May 2014 when he played me, and then another player later in the tournament.  First let’s look at what he wrote:

Gopal Menon

“After a very long and difficult week of chess I had time to do a little reflection: Despite starting well at the Chicago Open, managing to beat 2 Grandmasters in the first 2 rounds, my tournament somehow fell apart around the middle. I realize that at the end of the day that I and only I am responsible for the result that I had, however there were two incidents in particular that I felt affected my performance. During my round 4 game with IM Akshat Chandra I was accused of cheating by him and his father no more than four (!) times during the same game. The first complaint was apparently by Akshat which I put to rest, however his father kept repeatedly making the same claims that I was cheating in some way.
There is a very simple explanation for all this, as many of my colleagues know I have a bad habit of smoking. During the game I was drinking coffee as well so I ended up using the bathroom a bit more than usual as well. Followed to the bathroom by the tournament director, no electronic devices were found on my person. In fact, this was a day where I had forgotten my cell phone at home! I understand the right to complain of supposedly suspicious behavior, but to complain as many times as my opponent’s father did, especially for someone who is not playing the game, should be considered harassment. Especially on account of the lack of evidence each time a tournament director confronted me (no electronic devices, smoking within view of people etc). This harassment had a very clear effect on me as the repeated accusations had clouded my thinking and I ended up blowing a winning position, finishing with a draw. This got me thinking that claims for cheating should be made solely by the opponents or tournament participants/directors as well as there being some sort of consequences for repeated accusations which have no base (once again, harassment).
Another incident which irked me greatly was when a tournament participant who for now shall remain nameless used a cell phone wand (given to her by a member of the tournament director staff(!)) on me while I was sitting in time pressure with 2 minutes to make 10 moves in order to reach time control…[rest deleted]“

Gopal is right that I brought his unusual behavior to the Tournament Director (TD) / Arbiter’s attention.  But he is wrong on pretty much everything else.   Here’s what my father informed me and I paraphrase here.

My father – “It appears to me that Gopal completely missed out the 10 – 15 minutes of security protocol lecture from the tournament organizers. The emphasis on anti-cheating measures was the strongest at any CCA tournament thus far, and the lecture so detailed and lengthy that it delayed the round by about 15 minutes.  Gopal seems to have missed it all, which could very well be since he arrived late to the table. In the lecture, the TDs were very clear about what is acceptable and what is unusual behavior, and the importance of not having any devices on person in the restroom. They designated an official restroom and the official playing area, which was the playing hall and the narrow strip in-front of the entrance door, the official bathroom and the analysis room. The Chief TD mentioned explicitly that anyone who leaves the playing area during an ongoing game to go to the far away restroom or to hotel reception area or outside the hotel will be a person of interest for TDs and will have a greater chance of inviting a scan with the cell phone wand (detector). If a cell phone is found, the game will be forfeited (for the Open section, and other penalties for non-FIDE sections). Outside the official restroom, the organizers provided a desk to deposit any devices before entering the restroom. Gopal repeatedly left the playing hall for a number of minutes during a few moves, and his continued lengthy absence often on immediate moves was considered unusual by my son.

Akshat mentioned this unusual behavior to the TD inside the hall  saying that “My opponent (Gopal) isn’t probably doing anything wrong, but his behavior is unusual and so I thought I’ll tell you guys just to be sure.” He never said to the TD that Gopal is cheating.  But like any other player, if you see something unusual, you must say something during the game, and that’s what Akshat did.  The TD told Akshat that they will be watchful. I informed the TD outside the hall who was monitoring players leaving the playing area. He simply asked me the Table # and told me that the player must inform any of the TDs inside, which Akshat had already done. At that time Gopal was leaving the playing area and the TD knew who I was talking about.  That was the only one time I spoke to the TDs. I never spoke to them again. So when Gopal continues to say that I complained 4 times to the TD, he is simply assuming and not realizing that the TD’s interest was raised because of his activities.  As Gopal himself mentioned that he kept leaving the playing hall for various reasons. It’s clear that any subsequent interest shown in him by the TDs was because he was leaving the Playing Area repeatedly – whether going outside for a smoke or going to the far away restroom instead of the official one.  That was exactly what the organizers/Arbiter had informed the players will invite additional scrutiny and the cell phone scan. But it’s obvious that Gopal had missed all those instructions by arriving late for the game.  To me this appears like a self-inflicted problem.  Of course, Gopal must have been annoyed because during the game he bumped me hard on the way to his board while I was observing some games.

In any case, regarding blowing away a winning position, if it makes Gopal feel any better there was no such decisive advantage to blow away.  I’ve asked Akshat to post the game below.”  (End of Paraphrasing)

So that’s my father’s account. It’s important to clarify such a misunderstanding. I wish Gopal would have brought it up in the Analysis room during our post-game review. The fact that he was scanned several times had nothing to do with me or my father. Arbiters don’t take too kindly to intervention by non-players.  It was due to Gopal’s own repeated exit of the Playing Area. Hope he realizes that now.

Gopal is a very good chess player who is underrated.  Good luck to him.

Here’s the game we played:

TD at the Chicago Open outside the Official Restroom – all devices had to be deposited before entering the restroom.

 

North American Junior U20
A Missed Opportunity!

Sometimes you unexpectedly come across low-hanging fruit.  But that doesn’t mean you are still able to pluck and eat it.  This is the story of such a time.

On July 26 I wrapped up the Czech Open, the last tournament on my month-long Europe tour and was all set to return back home! The tournament didn’t go very well for me as I drew several lower rated players, and was unable to get anything going.  After the last round, my Dad and I went through a grueling 4-hour journey in order to get from Pardubice to the airport in Prague. We finally arrived there at around midnight, completely exhausted, and tried to catch some sleep before our early morning flight home after a stopover. We arrived home on the evening of July 28. It felt great to be home and see my mom and brother, after a long fatiguing trip! There wouldn’t be much time for rest however, as I was due to play the North American Junior, for which I had to travel in three days. The winner of the tournament would receive the IM Title, which was of no relevance to me since I already had one, but more importantly a GM norm as well! This tournament was never on our calendar, and we planned to get a week’s rest or so before heading out for The Washington International tournament in Rockville. We learnt about the NA Junior while still on the road in Europe, and felt like this was a splendid opportunity to makeup for the narrow miss in Paracin.

Getting some rest and overcoming the jetlag was the least of my problems; things were about to get a lot worse. The next day I started feeling enervated and on Tue, I felt extremely ill with a sore body, fever and a constant retching sensation. The Doctor told me it was the Flu, and nothing could be done about it as it takes a week to get over. Her advice – take rest, drink fluids, for you can’t hold down food, and manage the intense body pain with medication for a week. The doctor was not in favor of me going so far to play another tournament. The medication wasn’t really helping. In the early morning hours on Wed – 30th before we were to start, I fainted while attempting to stand up.  Fortunately, I didn’t hit my head on the floor directly but fell towards the wall and then tumbled sideways and hit the floor. I’ve always wondered how people can just faint; aren’t they aware of what’s happening? Well I can tell you first hand, No! I felt a black wave of nausea overcome me, and my head became really light just as I passed out.  My Dad repeatedly kept telling me that we didn’t have to go if I wasn’t feeling up to it. After all I could barely even get up from bed, let alone sit-up and play a game of chess :) . It was only sheer will and determination to play the game and try for a Norm, that got me out of bed that day.

The drive to Kitchener, Canada was going to be 10 hours long. That’s plenty of time for some rest and relaxation, right? Unfortunately, wrong :( . I had to deal with retching sensations the entire trip. We also encountered a vicious storm when we entered Canada, accompanied by blinding sheets of rain! When we finally made it to the hotel room, I simply collapsed and my condition was worse. The hotel reception and the tournament organizer told us about some health care centers, in case of an emergency. So here I was on the brink of the tournament, which was to start the next morning, and still as sick as a dog. The next few days I just survived on fluids, pain killers and very little food.

In the morning, I felt a bit better and my fever was coming down to normal. I still felt extremely nauseous however, and just walking to the playing hall made me feel like passing out. Carrying a retching bag , I showed up at my table . The pairings came, but I had no strength to get up and look. I just waited for the opponent to show up.

I started off well and was extremely happy that I was able to win my first 4 games, despite being completely devitalized. The game quality wasn’t the highest from my side in the games that I was Black, but it was good enough to comfortably get the Win, which was all that mattered. After winning my 4th game, I faced Edward Song in Round 5.  It was a quick Draw, something that was frustrating, especially since I was White.  I was determined to play longer and stronger in the next round against Tanraj Sohal, who was having a breakout tournament with Wins over some higher rated players.  I made use of my double-white, and outplayed Tanraj, ending the day with 5.5/6. Things were looking good! After the game, for the first time I stepped out from the Hotel since we came, to walk around a few blocks. I was starting to feel better, and was regaining my strength.

The next morning I faced Andrew Tang as Black. The game went wrong for me right from the start, when I mashed two variations resulting in what I believe is a lost position.

I fought back tooth and nail, surviving a +10 (!) position for Tang, but in the end I missed two fairly straightforward instances where I could easily overcome the advantage I handed out. Tang played accurately enough to hold on to the advantage presented to him, and eventually Win. He was already playing strongly prior to this round, and after this round I felt he deserved to come first.

I was stunned that I lost to a lower rated, something I hadn’t done in a really long time. That one loss was enough to lose control of the tournament.  In the penultimate round, I Drew with Canadian IM Richard Wang. At that point, I no longer had a shot at 1st and the coveted GM norm. To play the final round and achieve 2nd or 3rd would get me Titles/Norms that I already possessed. To me, it just made sense to step aside and let others who could benefit from such title awards duel it out in the last round. My Dad also agreed but more importantly for him from my health perspective was the benefit of not going through the strain of another round.

As I look back and see the Norms & Titles awarded to other players, I feel it was the right decision. Of course, the regret of letting things slip through my hand lingers. In any case, with the Arbiters/Directors ready to post the pairing and leave for the night, we had to make a quick decision.

The ride back was once again a very long one.  We did have time to stop at the majestic Niagara Falls, and that made for a good change after the events of the previous days. I would like to thank the organizers Patrick McDonald and Hal Bond for organizing a highly professional and perfect FIDE tournament, and the Arbiters team for their help and understanding during the tournament.

I want to keep covering my misses as well for other players to realize that ‘Downs’ also come with the ‘Ups,’ and we still got to pick ourselves up and keep moving on!

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Rene Preotu, FIDE Arbiter and Chess Parent

Recently, my attention was drawn to a comment by Rene Preotu on a Canadian chess message board, characterizing me as someone who withdraws from tournaments when Norm chances don’t exist.

J. Wang “But did IM Akshat Chandra withdraw from the tournament?”
R. Preotu “He did the same thing last year at Quebec Open and also from other US tournaments when he had no more chances for norms.”

Well, Mr. Preotu is clearly mistaken and unfortunately highly irresponsible in his comments. As a FIDE Arbiter, he should be more professional and refrain from making controversial remarks about Chess Players on message boards, particularly when he is so wrong.

I withdrew from the Quebec Open because I had a throat infection, perhaps because of the chemical fumes that we had to breathe for days as the first floor gym was being cleaned, while we were staying a few floors above in the dorms; not to mention the intense Summer heat and no air conditioning. Mr. Preotu could have easily verified the reasons with his Arbiter colleagues at the tournament since he was present there. Instead he made his own assumptions. He could have easily searched and found my posting from 2013 on the Quebec Open which also discusses my condition. In addition, being a FIDE Arbiter he of all people should know that my IM norm chances did not exist after ~Round 5.  So by his logic, I should not have played from R6 onwards. Why wait till R9 to withdraw?

Searching for Facts is hard work. It’s easier to shoot off some irresponsible and erroneous comments and washing your hands off it. Mr. Preotu’s mischaracterization was read by several others on the message board. Eventually it became a factoid when others accepted and started building on it, and I’m left now to correct the printed record in the public domain. In addition, since Mr. Preotu seems to be following my tournament record closely, I’d be glad if he can post in the comments section the list of US tournaments that I’ve withdrawn from after my Norm chances were gone.

Separately, Mr. Preotu’s comment also raises another issue. Withdrawing from tournaments is a very personal and difficult decision. Players do it for they feel it’s right for them. It’s their decision. Besides the official Arbiters and Organizers, it’s no one else’s business. You’re not sponsoring or paying for the player’s travel, hotel, and tournament expenses; nor are you aware of their health or state of mind, etc. So with a limited view of the situation, why complain? Perhaps if you sponsor the player, then one can understand the questioning.

Having said that, I generally don’t like withdrawals that occur once pairings are already posted and round is to begin shortly. Of course exceptions are there, but if players wait till last minute to withdraw after pairings are already posted, that is detrimental to the interests of the other players.

People may have different views on this subject, and I’m sure they’ll post them in the Comments section.

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Right before I leave, I want to leave you guys with two puzzles from my R3 game, against the talented Canadian FM Jason Cao. In the first one, White to play and win an exchange!

In the 2nd puzzle, find White’s quickest way to victory!

Until next time!

T7S – The Seventh Samurai

North American Junior 2014, The Walper Hotel, Kitchener, Canada

North American Junior 2014, The Walper Hotel, Kitchener, Canada

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The Seventh Samurai

I came across a post written by a fellow chess enthusiast, Dana Mackenzie, on his blog, He really wrote an awesome article profiling me, and I want to express my gratitude to him.

Thanks Dana !

The first lines are:

“Not long ago I wrote here jokingly about the fact that the U.S. has “too many” young players getting IM and GM norms. I hope everyone realizes I wasn’t serious… This is a true golden era of American chess.  Today I was browsing the list of the top 100 juniors in the world, and I came across a name I hadn’t seen before:

81. Chandra, Akshat (USA) 2442

There are seven Americans on the list, and all of the others are very familiar to me. Ray Robson at #10/11. Daniel Naroditsky, chess author and last year’s U.S. Junior champion, at #21. Kayden Troff, the current U.S. Junior champion, at #39. Darwin Yang at #47. Samuel Sevian at #63. And even Jeffrey Xiong at #86 is someone I knew about. But who is Akshat Chandra?….  “

To read the full post, click here !

He refers to me as the “Seventh Samurai,” a reference to the famous 1954 movie “Seven Samurai.” I must say I like that title a lot, and will now definitely go by that nickname in the future :)

Peace out – The Seventh Samurai.