Portland Area HS League, Round 4

by Ed Addis

The Portland Area League is composed of 11 member schools that field 16 teams into two divisions of eight teams each. In the first half of the season, each division plays a round robin of matches with five-player teams. Then, divisions are adjusted somewhat and the divisions play another round robin in the second half of the season.

The fourth round was played on December 1st and the Upper Division first place Clackamas #1 was upset by Horizon Christian winning on the top three boards while droppping the bottom two. Second place Westview was also taken down by Lake Oswego #1 by a score of 4 to 1 (Westview had to forfiet the bottom three boards as some of their players did not make an appearance). Third place Lincoln #1 held off Cleveland by a score of 3 to 2. Fifth place LaSalle #1 scored a 3.5 to 1.5 in the remaining match.

In the Lower Division first placed Jesuit rolled over Access Academy by winning the top four boards while losing the last board. Second place Lincoln #2 was taken apart by Lake Oswego #2 scoring only drawson boards 3 and 5. Third place Clackamas #2 was beat 3 to 2 by Wilson when their first board lost on time while up two Queens. Fifth place LaSalle #2 also lost a close one to Sherwood #2 by winning the top and bottom boards while losing the three in the middle.

After four rounds the following players are still prefect with four wins:

Bryce Eng playing board #1 for Jesuit
Tushar Sah playing board #3 for Jesuit
Kevin Rhine playing once on board #1 and board #4, and twice on board #5 for Clackamas
Christopher DiMarco playing board #4 for Jesuit.

London, Round 3

Wunderkind (wonder child) Magnus Carlsen goes down again — this time to world champion Anand. Carlsen just turned 20 a couple weeks ago. Just after his 19th birthday, he became the youngest player ever to be the number one rated player in the world (Jan 2010). The next world champion? Two months ago, it looked like he was on the inside track. He won several very strong tournaments in 2009 and 2010 and earned a spot in the Candidates Matches in spring 2011, with the winner to challenge Anand for the title. But he pulled out of the matches, saying that he didn’t feel motivated and that he’d rather see the world championship decided in a tournament rather than a challenge match.

In his game with Anand on Friday, Carlsen came out of the opening with a good advantage but threw it away on move 28. Then, with Rc2 on his 28th move, he would be losing if Anand could find the right way to proceed in the diagram:

White to move

And, it is no surprise that Anand was able to solve this nice chess puzzle:
29 Nh6+ gxh6
30 Qg4+ Bg7
31 Qe6+ Kh8
32 Rxd7
The game continued for another 45 moves, but there was never much doubt about the final result after Anand’s nifty little combination to get the superior position.

The other games were all drawn. The standings after round 3 of 7 are:
1 McShane 7
2-3 Nakamura 5
2-3 Anand 5
4-5 Kramnik 4
4-5 Adams 4
6 Carlsen 3
7 Howell 2
8 Short 1

NOTE: This event uses the “Bilbao scoring” with win = 3 points, draw = 1 point, and loss = zero.

London, Round 2

Kramnik-Nakamura, 0-1
Nakamura is still young, but he has rocketed to the highest levels of the chess world. He’s now making a strong case that he belongs there. Yesterday he drew against world champion Anand. Today he beat former world champion and current world #4 Vladimir Kramnik — and was playing black. Kramnik rarely loses, especially on white. The game was a strange one, with Kramnik blundering a piece in the opening. To win the piece, though, Nakamura’s king was exposed to attack, and his pieces were left tangled in knots. It was just a matter of time until he freed his pieces to win.

Short-McShane, 0-1
Following up on his surprise win over Carlsen yesterday, McShane was not satisfied with a draw today. He played the Sicilian Dragon, an opening that is famous for double-edged tactical positions. Short responded with the ultra-sharp Yugoslav Attack. In vintage dragon style, McShane parried the threats to his king and then systematically began plucking off Short’s pawns. Short resigned just before McShane promoted one of his extra pawns.

Carlsen-Adams, 1-0
After yesterday’s loss, Carlsen rebounded with a win over Adams. Adams had an advantage coming out of the opening with a nice queenside attack. Then, he began migrating all his pieces to the h-file, and Carlsen promptly thumped him.

Howell-Anand, 1/2-1/2
For the second day in a row, the world champion worked up a sizable advantage but was unable to find a way to win. Howell defended accurately and earned a long, hard-fought draw.

Tournament site here (with games, pictures, standings, videos, schedule, pairings, etc.)

London, Round 1

A great round of ferocious, fighting chess by some of the strongest players in the world…

Anand-Nakamura, 1/2-1/2
Nakamura, the strongest player in the US and currently among the top ten in the world, had the dubious honor of playing black against World Champion Anand in the first round. He decided to play the Berlin Wall. White gets a slight advantage in the opening, but Black gets a solid position that is tough to beat. The opening was popular for awhile a hundred years ago, but no one really played very much again until Vladmir Kramnik dusted it off as a drawing weapon in his world championship match against Garry Kasparov in 2000. It’s curious that a dynamic attacking player like Nakamura would use a dull opening like the Berlin, but he’s new to top-level chess and is playing it safe. Anand was two pawns up but Nakamura’s wall was too strong to tear down. Said Nakamura after the game: “Pretty horrendously bad game against Anand today, but luckily the Berlin Wall is a forced draw!”

Adams-Howell, 1-0
Another Berlin! Unfortunately, Howell ignored Kramnik’s lessons from his match with Kasparov and tried playing an old-fashioned version. Adams sac’d two pawns and a knight and shredded him in a blistering attack against the king.

White to Move
r1b1r1k1/1p1np1bp/3p2p1/1Pq2p2/pNP5/Q1N1P1P1/P4PBP/1R1R2K1 w - - 0 21
20. Nxh7!
After capturing the knight, Black king will be wide open to attack from White’s queen, rook, and remaining knight. The game finished with:
20 … Rxf3
21 gxf3 Kxh7
22 Ng5+ Kg8
23 Qh4 Bxc4
24 Qh7+ Kf8
25 Re5 Be6
26 Qh8+ Ke7
27 Qxg7 Kd6
28 Ne4#
McShane-Carlsen, 1-0
Englishman McShane played the English opening in England and thoroughly outplayed Norwegian super-star Magnus Carlsen in a big upset. McShane played a creative, energetic game. A clever maneuver (see diagram) gave him the advantage, and he never looked back.

White to move
r1b1r1k1/1p1np1bp/3p2p1/1Pq2p2/pNP5/Q1N1P1P1/P4PBP/1R1R2K1 w - - 0 21
21. Nxa4! At first glance, it is not safe to take the pawn because the black rook pins the knight. Black will be able to immediately attack the knight a second time with his queen:
21. … Qa7 Now the knight is twice attacked and only once defended. Unfortunately, White doesn’t have any other defenders available for the knight, but McShane already had a clever defense figured out before he took the pawn:
22. Na6! A surprising and beautiful move. After Black captures the knight, White keeps moving his pieces forward and strangles the black pieces in the corner. White first wins a knight, then a pawn, and finally a rook for a knight. Game over.

Short-Kramnik, 0-1
Short played an old-fashioned bishop’s opening against Kramnik to try to throw him off. I think Short already knew this, but Kramnik is not the kind of player you can beat with cheap tricks. Short wanted to play a patient, strategic game, but Kramnik turned it into a swashbuckling, all-out assault on the white king. With checkmate looming over him in a few moves, Short resigned on move 38.

Replay games here.

London Chess Classic

One of the strongest chess tournaments of the year starts Wednesday, Dec 8 in London. It features many of the strongest players in the world, including:
Vishwanathan Anand (from India, World champion and world’s highest-rated player), Magnus Carlsen (from Norway, second highest-rated player in the world), Vladimir Kramnik (from Russia, previous world champion, fourth highest-rated player), Hikaru Nakamura (from USA, highest-rated American player), and the four strongest British players (Michael Adams, Nigel Short, Luke McShane, and David Howell).

Anand wrested the World Champion title from Kramnik in a 2008 match. Anand has a universal style, excelling in all aspects of the game — attack, defense, openings, tactics, strategy, endgames. He is especially famous for tenacious and innovative defense and very strong openings. Watch for smooth play and scores near the top of the standings. Prediction: 3 wins, 4 draws

Carlsen is just 20 years old and was the youngest player ever to be the highest-rated in the world. At this point in his career, he is satisfied with having the highest rating and is not very interested in battling to become World Champion. Carlsen plays solid, dynamic chess and is one of the favorites to win the tournament. Prediction: 4 wins, 2 losses, 1 draw

Kramnik beat Garry Kasparov in a match in 2000 to become World Champion. They played 15 games. Kramnik won two, and the other thirteen were draws. The results were vintage Kramnik — a few Kramnik wins scattered amongst a lot of draws. Prediction: 2 wins, 5 draws

Nakamura likes to play wild games, rich with tactical possibilities for both sides. Although best known for his tactical wizardry, he has a profound strategic sense and also excels in the endgame. He seems comfortable with a wide array of openings and is always ready with a surprise for his opponents. He has not played in very many tournaments with the top players in the world and will likely take a cautious approach against the top three. He’s been rising rapidly up the ratings list, but he may not be ready to win a tournament this strong — at least not yet. In another year or two, he should be among the toop five players in the world. Prediction: 3 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw

The British players in the tournament are very strong, but none have a strong chance of winning the event. McShane and Howell are on their way up the ratings list, while Adams and Short are on their way down.

Expected scores according to a fancy statistical model:

Anand 4.23
Carlsen 4.16
Kramnik 3.98
Nakamura 3.65
Adams 3.58
Short 3.12
McShane 2.87
Howell 2.40

Games are broadcast live at ChessBomb, while the official tournament site has more complete information.

Eugene Fall Classic

For eleven straight years, Jerry Ramey has directed the Fall Classic scholastic chess tournament in Eugene. The name has changed over the years, but it is consistently a high quality event, year in and year out. This year 60 players from all over the state (and even one from Washington) participated.

Playing in the elite section this year were the three highest rated ninth graders in the state (Calvin Parnon, Matt Dalthorp, and Jack Dale), the second highest rated eighth grader (Erik Skalnes), the highest rated fifth grader (Maxwell Sun), along with Freddy Davis from Vancouver WA, Jimmy Kelly from Eugene, and Tyler Mccausland (winner of the Eugene Spring Fling in April, 2010). Going into the final round, Max was sitting tall on a perfect 3/3, while Erik and Matt were tied at 2/3. Max played a turbulent Albin’s Counter-Gambit in the final round, but Erik coolly ramped up the pressure in the center and won handily. The players ended the tournament tied at 3/4. Matt had hopes of catching them in the final round, but Freddy’s Accelerated Dragon had him befuddled. He quickly found himself down a rook for two minor pieces. At the same time, Freddy’s pieces were active and well-coordinated. He finished the game methodically and masterfully to tie with Matt at 2/4. Matt’s loss created an opening for Jack, who got an advantage against Tyler in the middle game and successfully ground him down in a rook endgame to finish in third place at 2.5/4.

Simon Venter recently moved to Eugene from southern Oregon and won the advanced section with 4.5/5 score, a half-point ahead of Jared McReynolds of Cottage Grove High School and Derek Wang of Eugene. In the intermediate section, Chase Kephart from Cottage Grove cruised through his first USCF-rated tournament with a score of 4.5/5. Griffin Allensis of Eugene finished second at 4/5. Not only did he earn 2nd place with his score, but he increased his USCF rating by a whopping 343 points. Nice job, Griffin! Not many players add that many points in a full year, and you did it in one day. Miles Pendleton from Eugene finished in third at 3.5/5.

Topping the novice section was Jack Woo Mclain with 4.5/5. Right on his tail at 4/5 were fourth graders Andrew Dassonville and Avi Shugar. This was Avi’s first rated tournament. He ended up losing his very first tournament game, but then roared back to win four in a row to tie for second — Fantastic debut performance!

Full Results (NWSRS)
Full USCF results

Portland Chess Club, November G/60

The Portland Chess Club hosts a four-round G/60 tournament one Saturday per month. The tournaments are OSCF qualifiers, but usually about 3/4 of the participants are adults.

Scary? Nah… Well, scary for the adults maybe. In a match-up between a 10 year old and an adult 100 points higher rated, I’d put my money on the kid–like 4th grader Liam Booth (1252 USCF) beating Gregory Markowski (1457).

Other Oregon scholastic players participating were 8th grader David Wen from Cheldelin Middle School in Corvallis, 10th grader Steven Witt of Century High School (Hillsboro), 6th grader Venkat Doddapaneni of Stoller Middle School (Portland), and 6th grader Valentin Molchanov of Bethany Montessori (Portland).

Full results at USCF.

Portland Area League, Rounds 1-3

The powerful Portland area high school chess league has completed three rounds of play. In the upper division Gavin Megson of Clackamas High School and Nathan Ryan have both been a perfect 3/3 so far. Nathan (928 NWSRS) had to notch a 400 point upset in the third round to keep his streak in tact, but he proved that he was up for the task against Joel Porter (1358) of the strong Lake Oswego team, which won the OHSCTA high school team championship last year.

Several other players have perfect scores after playing two games:Alex Piatski, Alexander Schoen, and Charles Earp. Alexandra Botez (1941), fresh off her outstanding performance against a tough field at the World Youth Championships, is also at 2/2, including a win against Fred Litt (1726) who played on board #1 on last year’s state champion Lake Oswego team.

In the lower division, three players from Jesuit High School (Bryce Eng, Christopher Dimarco, and Tushar Sah) are alone at 3/3, emphatically stating that JHS is a force to be reckoned with.

Full Results at NWSRS

Southern Oregon Chess League

November 20, 2010, despite threats of snow in the passes, the Southern Oregon Chess League held a tournament at the Coquille High School. Coquille Varsity and Coquille Junior Varsity chess teams once again showed their dominance in the region with Sutherlin and Oakland participating. Marshfield and Myrtle Creek were unable to participate.

For the Coquille Varsity team, none of the other participating teams could snag a win off any of the five members. Jessi Ross, Tasha Keller, Stephen Mast, Jasmine Lambson and Jenni Ross won all their games placing Coquille clearly in first, Myrtle Point second and Sutherlin third.

For the Coquille Junior Varsity team, the only loss they suffered was against Oakland where Sarai was defeated on her board as she “dropped” a piece but the other four members, Aaron Grabinsky, Kaden Johnson, Tyler Neuschwander and James Hopper got all wins during the three matches. Coquille placed first, Oakland second and Sutherlin third.

Byron Massey Memorial in Coquille

Upper and Elite Division trophy winners

Saturday, November 13th, at the Byron Massey Memorial Chess Tournament held at the Coquille High School, players strived to emulate the sportsmanship that Massey had displayed in past chess tournaments.

Kaitlyn Davidson displayed a cheerful attitude despite adversity and loss. Matthew Crim complimented his opponent who had just lost, telling him that he had given him a challenging game. Amanda Davidson reassured her opponent to take all the time he needed to think over his moves and after losing, was cheerful. Tyler Overby and Dane Ramirez always had a smile despite losses. Many players made sure to compliment their opponents, shake hands and everyone was smiling despite the game results.

But one player, Devin Kruse from Grants Pass, exemplified Massey’s sportsmanship as he helped his first opponent record moves for the first time, encourage another beginner player as he let his opponent know he was making good challenging moves and shared his juggling pins and balls that were a hit for entertainment between rounds. Although he never got the chance to meet Byron Massey, he had heard the tales and was “deeply honored” to receive the award. Those who did know Byron had tears as the sportsmanship plaque with Byron’s portrait was awarded.

Six elementary players tested out their chess skills from kindergarten to fourth grade in age. Jed Wright dominated the division as he won all his games, getting 1st place for 4th grade. Izabella Sperling won 1st place for 3rd grade and Gracie Wright won 1st place for K-1st grade.

The 6th grader to adult section was divided into Elite and Upper division base on ratings. In the upper division, adult Steve Goldman from Medford and Devin Kruse, 10th grader from Grants Pass predominated the event with 3.5 wins out of 4. Coquille’s Tyler Neuschwander (7th grade) and Myrtle Point’s Matthew Crim (9th grade) were just behind them with 3 wins out of 4. Coquille’s Mason Collard won first place for 6th grade.

In the elite section, Medford’s Collin Goldman and Roseburg’s Kareem El-Badry tied with 3.5 points to win the first place cash prize. In the younger elite section, Aaron Grabinsky 7th grade of Coquille placed first and Josiah Perkins 5th grade of Coquille placed second. Players were evenly matched and games were tight and intense through this event that lasted till 7 p.m. as most games went the full one and a half hour time limit.

-by Nancy Keller

Full results at NWSRS


Elementary Division Winners: Gracie Wright, Angie Morones, Mackenzie Collard, Izabella Sperling and Jed Wright showing off their trophies.

Dane Ramirez of Coquille

Amanda Davidson of Coquille playing chess while her daughter Angie Morones hangs out under the table after competing in the elementary division.

Michael Schrader of Myrtle Point