Tying for First in the USA Chess Tour Brooklyn Championship!

by CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

with Organizers IM Milos Scekic, GM Vladimir Romanenko and Ekaterina Romanenko
In Action against Christopher Tyau from Hawaii!

When you think of the big chess tournaments in the United States, you think of one organization, Bill Goichberg’s Continental Chess Association. A bulk of the major tournaments, including the World Open, Chicago Open and Philadelphia Open are run by them. However, Goichberg does not have a monopoly; several other organizers, including the Charlotte Chess Center and USA Chess Tour are starting to organize big money events. This past weekend, I had the honor of participating in and tying for the first in the U2200 section of the USA Chess Tour’s Brooklyn Chess Classic this past weekend. 

Don’t let the name fool you; the tournament took place in Manhattan. USA Chess Tour is organizing championships for each of New York’s 5 boroughs, but they are all taking place at the Stewart Hotel on 31st and 7th Avenue in Manhattan. The tournament had nice conditions with chess sets and clocks supplied. Every round they raffled off Amazon gift cards and magazines, courtesy of American Chess Magazine. The winners of each section took home large trophies, in addition to prizes. Since there was a small turnout, a large percentage of participants took home money. 
The tournament was flexible with two 2-day accelerated schedules, one for the early birds starting at 9:00 AM and another starting at 1:00 PM for those like myself who wanted to sleep in. 
I had a fast start to tournament, going 4–0 in my first four games. In round 5, I drew IS 318 Alumni National Expert Mubassar Uddin, who ended up tying for first with Jelvis Arrandela Calvelo and I. In round 6, I outplayed the top seat of the tournament National Master Noah Thomforde-Toastes. 
Here is my round 3 win against Expert Eden Diano:
Going into the last round, I was a full point ahead of the field with a score of 5.5/6. Calvelo and Uddin both had 4.5 points; therefore a draw or win would secure the match. Psychologically this can be a difficult situation as it is very tempting to play conservatively to the point where you are too passive. 
In Calvelo’s game against Uddin in round 4, he played 1.d4, d5, 2.c4, Nf6?!, which is a dubious move that gives white an easy advantage with a big center. I looked into online databases and saw he played this Nf6 moves several times. Therefore, for the first time in a long time, I played 1.d4 instead of my usual 1.e4. He then shocked me by playing 2. C5, the Benoni defense. Fortunately, I used to play the black side of the Benoni so knew the theory pretty well and got an advantage. However, I eventually made a few errors and blundered a pawn in some of the tactical complications and went on to lose. 
Too be honest, never did I ever feel so bittersweet about tying for first in a tournament. On one hand, I had a great tournament and won a nice $933; on the other, a few simple stakes costed me almost $700. Clear first place was worth $1600. 
Nevertheless, I am certainly happy I played in this inaugural event of the USA Chess Tour. I look forward to playing in the “Queens Championship” at the Stewart Hotel December 7-9: https://usachesstour.com/1st-annual-queens-classical-chess-championship/ They also have an amazing IM-GM tournament coming up November 1-5: https://usachesstour.com/gm-and-im-norm-tournaments/ 

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