After watching the video in my previous post …
Can’t wait to see this!
A video recap of the National Chess Congress courtesy of the U.S. Chess Federation.
UMBC Chess Team Shines At National Chess Congress - Monday, December 2, 2013
While a few of us were still nursing full bellies from Thanksgiving meals the evening before, we had an hour and a half train ride to Philly before it was time to hunker down and go to battle over the board.
Our team rushed off to a blazing start in the first three rounds. Both GM Niclas Huschenbeth, IM Levan Bregadze, and IM Nazi Paikidze raced to 2.5 out of 3.0.
Senior, Ahmed Gahelrasoul, chose to play up TWO sections(!), competing in the U2200 with a personal rating of 1783. This, of course, made him the objective underdog in most of his games, but while one’s chess rating is a good indicator of past performance, chess is about consistent accuracy, so it only takes one mistake by your opponent to turn over the initiative and give you winning chances, despite your rating. Ahmed finished with an outstanding performance of 3.5/6.0, scoring a victory over the #1 seed in round two. Ahmed will be playing board one for our “B” team at the Pan-American tournament in December.
On the last day, in rounds five and six, GM Huschenbeth and IM Bregadze were very much in the hunt with 3.0 and 3.5 points out of four respectively. Niclas had to grind out a very tough endgame with a 14-year old International Master in round five. Down a pawn after the opening, the game was looking drawish after a quick transition to the endgame, where queens and both rooks remained on the board for both sides. However, one misevaluation by his opponent opened the door to some favorable exchanges, the collapse of White’s queenside pawns, and the victory to Niclas who had the black pieces (one of the four occasions this tournament he had black!).
IM Bregadze was paired against GM Moradiabadi, an alum of the National Champion Texas Tech squad from 2012, and from whom he was seeking a bit of revenge after missing some winning chances in a previous encounter during the 2012 Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess tournament at Princeton University. Levan held strong, smartly consolidated his position, and the players agreed to a truce in the endgame.
With both GM Huschenbeth and IM Bregadze coming off of a win and a draw respectively in round five, they were positioned for a high place and possible share of first if all of the stars aligned after the battles ended in round six. They were also the only two remaining team members in Philly after a few of us decided to take byes for the last round so that we could return to Baltimore and get ready for school to resume the following day.
Much to our team’s surprise, IM Bregadze was paired against GM Gelashvilli, rated 2706(!), at the start of the tournament. Playing against such a strong opponent is a true opportunity to embrace and play your best chess.
There was so much for our team to feel grateful for this weekend: safe travels, lots of laughter, and strong performances, but the highlight of the entire experience for me was receiving the late text from Levan proclaiming his victory over GM Gelashvilli. Absolutely fantastic! With performances like this, Levan has a lot to feel optimistic about in his quest to eventually earn the grandmaster title.
After the dust had settled, the boards rolled up, and the chess pieces packed away for another day, GM Huschenbeth and IM Bregadze had tied for first with GM Panchanathan, however, after the tiebreak system weighed in, Levan took home clear first.
In the team event, where they calculate the top four scores for all of the individuals you have registered, UMBC took home the third place trophy. Not a bad weekend at all.
The Congress served as our main warmup event for the Pan-Am Intercollegiate Chess Tournament, scheduled to take place at Texas Tech University at the end of December. I think I speak for the team when I say that it feels incredibly good to rack up such a positive performance heading into one of our biggest battles of the year.