Tied 1st at the Paracin International Open
Missed GM Norm by a Whisker!

Checking in from Europe to give a little update.

I tied first with 7.5/9 at the Paracin International Open in Central Serbia! 2700 GM Richard Rapport took first on better tiebreak. I missed my GM norm by a whisker, as my average opponent rating was a few points less then what was required. But nonetheless, it was definitely a memorable tournament! I needed to play an opponent rated 2470/+ in the last round, and a draw would be required for a norm. Unfortunately, I got paired with a 2443, which wrecked the norm chance. Oh well, at least my game’s in the right place, and I had a 2650 performance :D.

Here’s a link to the official report that appeared on Chessdom. Below’s my game with the 2700 GM ,and World Junior #2 Richard Rapport.

 

Moments before the Final Round

Moments before the Final Round

Tied 1st at the Paracin International Open, Serbia

Akshat Chandra – Tied 1st at the Paracin International Open, Serbia

At the 18th century Holy Trinity Church - a famous landmark monument on the banks of River Crnica in Paracin

At the 18th century Holy Trinity Church – a famous landmark monument on the banks of River Crnica in Paracin – Akshat Chandra

My last round win over GM Abramovic.

 

 

 

9-year old storms through GMs!

I thought I’ll share an article I just published on ChessBase.  It was about a 9-year old beating a couple of GM’s. I don’t know the young phenom, but such a feat is extremely rare and highly impressive at his age. That’s why I thought I’ll provide some coverage on it and highlight his accomplishment to a broader and appreciative chess community. Hopefully the exposure he’s getting on a premier chess new site like Chessbase will assist him in getting even more recognition in his country and the support he may need, and very well deserves. The entire article can be viewed here.  The first few lines are reposted below. If you have comments on the article, please post them on Chessbase and share your like/dislike preference.

ChessBasearticle

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A few weeks ago I was randomly surfing some chess results, and stumbled on to a tournament played in Uzbekistan. I went through the results of the first round to see if there were any major upsets, and as I was about to move on, something caught my eye. I noticed that a very high-rated GM (exactly 2600) Andrei Zhigalko lost his first round to a 2057 FIDE rated player. This is of course a huge upset.  But what makes it even more incredible is that the 2057 was a 9 year old! That’s right, a 9 year old took down a 2600. This was no fluke or a flippant move by the opponent turning into a major blunder. This was a gritty, square-by-square grind-down in which the 9 year old FM Nodirbek Abdusattorov from Uzbekistan prevailed.

9-year old FM Nodirbek Abdusattorov

9-year old FM Nodirbek Abdusattorov

 

Like Mike!

Sorry my dear readers, it’s been a crazy month and a half in which I played 4 norm tournaments, striking gold in one of them! But that’s not the subject I wish to discuss right now. After a long period of dormancy, I’m back to updating the blog with some new posts.

Ever heard the expression “Like Mike?”

Maybe you’ve seen the movie. The ‘Mike’ in context refers to the greatest basketball player ever, Michael Jordan. Well there’s another Mike here in the chess world whom I’d like to bring to your attention, and his name is Michael Regan.

Who’s that you might ask?

Well, in my opinion he is one of the finest chess tournament organizers here in America!

Mike is the Treasurer of the Maryland Chess Association.  Even more important, he is the chief organizer of the major tournaments in the state of MD, and truly the force that has brought forward top-class tournaments here on the East coast. The most notable of Mike’s tournaments is the Washington International – a full fledged 9-round Norm tournament that will be again hosted in August this year. For more information, click here.

Mike also hosts a series of 5-round tournaments – a couple of them being the Baltimore Open and the Potomac Open. What I love so much about his tournaments is that regardless of your chess level, you are still treated as a professional! I try to play some of his 5 round tournaments from time to time, and I get to play on elegant wooden DGT boards in each round! That’s right. DGT boards for the top 8 tables, just for a small 5 round tourney! Even after the DGT tables run out, many of the remaining tables are provided with wooden boards.

I’ve been playing on the US Chess circuit for over a year now, and can confidently say that Mike’s tournaments are always a pleasure to play, thanks to the conditions he provides.

He also keeps official FIDE time controls (90+30 sec inc, add 30 mins after 40 moves) in his tournaments, instead of the “delay” format that is used in several American tournaments. That’s how the world plays. In addition, the clocks are already provided for each board. Helpfully, the pairings are texted out each round as soon as they’re ready. This is truly a big aid and so parents/players don’t have to hang around pairing boards. When it comes to winning a prize in the 5 round tourneys, you are not given one based on your ranking, but on your points. 3.5 is the minimum for a prize. The upside – the player knows exactly what they have to do in any given round if they are playing to secure a minimum prize. Each time I’ve stayed at the tournament hotel, the in-room WiFi is part of the package and breakfast is included for some morning rounds. This is a good deal with the hotel on behalf of players as a group.

So this concludes my brief post, which was just a shout-out to an awesome organizer here in the US. I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time, for I wanted to share how very much I’ve enjoyed playing in Mike’s tournaments. As Chess players, we need to show our support for organizers that work very hard to give us a good environment to play. It’s great for us and great for Chess. 

I hope you will be able to play at these tournaments as well, particularly the Washington International in August! I’m sure you’ll also ‘Like Mike!’

Akshat Chandra and Mike ReganPotomac Open 2013

Akshat Chandra and Mike Regan
Potomac Open 2013

Akshat Chandra and GM XXXXX - Washington International 2013

Akshat Chandra and GM Yuniesky Quseda Perez- Washington International 2013

Akshat Chandra at Washington International

Akshat Chandra at Washington International 2013

 

Achieving the 1st GM Norm!

The Marshall Chess Club organized a GM Norm Invitational tournament from April 04 to April 13. It was a 9 round, 10-player Round-robin, with 6.5 points required for a GM norm and 5 points for an IM norm. The participants included 3 GMs, 4 IMs and 1 FM. The players, by FIDE rating, were:

GM Tamaz Gelashvili (GEO) 2584
GM Mark Paragua (PHI) 2495
GM Mikheil Kekelidze (GEO) 2485
IM Raja Panjwani (CAN) 2450
IM Yaacov Norowitz (USA) 2426
IM Columban Vitoux (FRA) 2414
Matthew Herman (USA) 2389
FM Michael Bodek (USA) 2376
Igor Sorkin (ISR) 2375
IM Akshat Chandra (USA) 2370

This was my first round-robin tournament. One of the benefits of such a tournament is that you don’t have to wait till the last few minutes before the round-time to learn who your opponent is, with little time to prepare for the game. The drawing of lots took place on April 1st, which gave the participants time to prepare accordingly.

The tournament was opened by Stuart Chagrin, Club President, and Dr. Marcus Fenner, Club Executive Director and Organizer. International Arbiter Dr. Frank Brady was the Chief TD. It was a wonderful and historic setting with the greats of the games peering down from the framed pictures on the walls. The wooden boards and the exquisite chess pieces added to the stature of the tournament, not to mention sitting a few tables away from the one on which Fischer and Capablanca both played.

Nearly all the games were decisive in the first round with only one draw. That was the game I played with GM Mark Paragua from Philippines. Mark is a really strong and experienced GM, with a peak rating of 2621. He surprised me in the opening by playing the Caro-Kann, which put me out of my preparation instantly. So much for the last couple of days of prep. Some inaccuracies by my side allowed him to equalize pretty quickly. I started to get low on time, and tried to trade pieces and force a Draw. But that almost backfired, since I got into a passive Queen Endgame in which I nearly lost. Nonetheless, I managed to secure a draw with a perpetual check.

A highlight of the first round was FM Michael Bodek’s upset win over GM Kekelidze.

I was extremely relieved to save my first-round game. The initial nervousness and jitters were settling down. In my next game playing Black against IM Colomban Vitoux, I outplayed him and achieved a winning position. But in the ensuing time trouble I bungled my advantage and had to settle for a draw. I was disappointed with the outcome, but I knew my game was in the right place, and I had to manage the time. In the third round, I overcame IM Raja Panjwani, a strong IM from Canada, which put me on 2/3. I felt I was starting to hit my stride.

But then in the next game against FM Bodek, I was again forced to settle for a draw after bungling my winning advantage, once again due to time pressure. This was extremely frustrating, since I was ruining well-played games due to my shoddy time management. I rebounded from the setback, and in Round 5 defeated Matt Herman, known for his striking attacks, and picturesque finishes. Luckily, our game was much calmer and positional :)

Going into the break after five rounds, there were 4 players mathematically in contention for a GM norm – Raja Panjwani, Michael Bodek, Matthew Herman and I.

In the second-half, Raja Panjwani made his intentions well-known with a strong win against GM Kekelidze in Round 6. Meanwhile, I was able to earn a full point against IM Norowitz, while Bodek and Herman drew their game against each other. Heading into the final day with two rounds, it was Panjwani and me still in the running for a GM norm, while Bodek and Herman had a shot at an IM norm. In the 8th round I was able to overcome Igor Sorkin and moved to 6 points – just a ½ point away. Meanwhile, Panjwani played valiantly but could not get past the solid Mark Paragua, and ended up losing the game.

In the final round I made a draw with GM Kekelidze which allowed me to reach 6 ½ points. That sealed the deal and I clinched my maiden GM norm in the hallowed halls of the The Marshall Chess Club!

In the meantime, Bodek played strongly against Igor Sorkin and secured his full point needed to reach the IM norm. This was Bodek’s final IM norm. Since he had earlier crossed the rating requirement of ELO 2400, henceforth he will be referred to as IM Bodek :) Final standings are available here.

Even though Igor Sorkin could not achieve what he set out to do, he won another kind of Norm in the game of life. He was blessed with a baby boy during the break in the tournament, and achieved his first Fatherhood Norm.

I was thrilled to achieve my 1st GM norm and played strongly throughout the tournament. I had recently returned from an excellent tournament, the UTD Spring Open FIDE in Dallas, where I played strongly to start off but then lost my way after an optical blunder (overlooked a pawn, maybe because of a reflective board ;-) ). My game was feeling strong, and I really wanted to avoid silly mistakes heading into the Marshalls GM Invitational. As my friend GM Daniel Naroditsky told me after the event, “the first one is the hardest.” I hope he’s right :)

Thanks to the GMs for participating and giving us an opportunity to seek norms, and most importantly thanks to The Marshall Chess Club for hosting a wonderful Round Robin tournament. I hope there will be more. Remember, the NY International, hosted by the Club, begins on June 18.

SAME ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED ON CHESSBASE PART 1 AND  PART 2 , AND ON USCF HERE.

Opening Ceremoney - Club President, Stuart Chagrin

Opening Ceremoney – Club President, Stuart Chagrin

IM Akshat Chandra and GM Mark Paragua

IM Akshat Chandra and GM Mark Paragua

IM Akshat Chandra and FM Michael Bodek
IM Akshat Chandra and FM Michael Bodek

 

There can only be One.
The US Championship 2014

The US Men’s and Women Championship is by far the most prestigious and honorable tournament in the United States. What makes it even more enticing is that it is held at the storied St. Louis Chess Club, where everything appears just perfect. This year’s men’s event is a Round Robin, unlike last year’s which fielded 24 players, with the players average rating of a hefty ~2610. The tournament is spearheaded by the rating favorite and four times champion, GM Gata Kamsky, with a 2713 (!) FIDE. Some of my friends (the friendship is one-way at least :) ) that I’ll be rooting for are GMs Robson, Naroditsky, Akobian and Lenderman.

Three rounds have occurred, and Lenderman is in sole lead with an incredible 2.5/3, while Robson and Gareev follow closely behind with 2/3. Remarkably, there have been only four decisive games (two are a courtesy of GM Lenderman :) ) with the other 14 ending in draws. Now that nobody can score a perfect 11-0 in both the Men’s and Women’s Section, the bonus $64,000 Fischer prize is unattainable for this year’s event, and Bobby Fischer doesn’t have to worry this year. He truly was peerless and remains so.  Btw, in case some of you might not understand Bobby Fischer’s reference, he is the only person to have scored a perfect 11-0 at a US Championship.  He accomplished his feat in 1964, and it has remained one of the best individual performances ever at a US championship.  The award is to commemorate Fischer’s achievement and it’s my belief the amount was worked out at $1,000 per square for a total of $64,000.  Or I believe it commemorates the year ’64 when Fischer won the round.

Here’s an interesting battle Ray played against GM Erenburg in the first round:

GM Ray Robson, off to great start with 2/3. (All photos courtesy of http://www.uschesschamps.com/2014-us-championship-player-bios)

For some reason, the PGN on the official site for the R1 games is really the R2 games. So I can’t just copy paste it into ChessBase, and have to manually put the moves in. After expending my efforts analyzing the Robson-Erenburg game, I’m kinda lazy now to put in Lenderman’s long win against Friedel. So when they fix that, I’ll update this article with his games as well . Here’s Lenderman’s R3 win against Ramirez:

UPDATE: Lenderman’s R1 win against Friedel:

 

GM Lenderman off to a splendid start as well with 2.5/3

Unfortunately, Naroditsky lost today to Gareev in a game I felt that Danya defended valiantly, but his position was just too hard in the end. Don’t worry Daniel, just rebound with the White pieces in the next game and put to use the training I’ve given you. By training, I mean losing 10-0 to him in our blitz sessions :) . Anyways, about the game with Gareev today, just “Fuggedaboutit!”

Reigning US Junior Champ,GM Naroditsky

Varuzhan “Var” has made a steady start with 1.5/3, and is definitely right in the mix of things. He drew with the veteran and experienced GM Alexander Onischuk, another strong player who can’t be overlooked. Wait, this is the US Championship, NOBODY can be overlooked, especially not a 2650+ GM like Onischuk :P

The solid and ultra-precise, GM Akobian

The one who cannot be over looked, GM Onischuk :)

In the Women’s Section, GM Krush is in the lead along with IM Zatonskih, both with 2.5/3. A nice surprise in their section has been Ashrita Eswaran who is on an outstanding 2/3, considering she’s only 13 years old.

5 time US Women’s Champ, GM Irina Krush, tied for the lead with 2.5/3

4 time US Champ, also tied in the lead with 2.5/3, IM Anna Zatonskih

The commentary duo was a bit different then usual today, with GM Ben Finegold filling in for WGM Jen Shahade. Ben’s a great and funny guy, just read his blog postings, I guarantee you will laugh at least once :) . GM Yasser Seirawan was outstanding as usual, and GM Maurice Ashley had some nice insights too.

Looking forward to the action tomorrow, and may we see some exciting fighting chess in the coming rounds! Who will triumph and etch their names into the history books forever? After all, there can only be One.

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PS (Am I the only who who just noticed St Loui’s “Arch” above the King and Queen? :))