I played in the 4th Cherry Blossom Classic over the Memorial Day Weekend. The tournament did go better than the Philadelphia Open, but I made two mistakes that were easily avoidable. Both games were equal, but I ended up losing because of my blunders. I still ended up tying for 7th place in the Open Section and won $16.67 in prize money.
In the sixth round, I played against a young kid, who currently holds the record for being the youngest national master in US Chess history. After about four hours of play with both players running low on time, we reached the following endgame position. Can you find how White can get a draw?
1. h3 f3+ 2. Kf2 gxh3 (2... fxg2 3. hxg4 h3 4. g5) 3. gxf3 Kxb5 4. Kg1
I originally intended to play this line. However, in time pressure, anything can happen, and I became confused. I missed the idea of the g-pawn promoting, and instead played the following variation, losing the game. Congratulations to my young opponent for playing such a good game.
1. Kf2 Kxb5 2. h3 g3+ 3. Kf3 Kc4 4. Ke2 (4. Kxf4 Kd3 5. Kg4 Ke2 6. Kxh4 Kf2) 4... Kd4 5. Kf1 Kd3 6. Ke1 Ke3 7. Kf1 Kd2 8. Kg1 Ke2 9.Kh1 f3 10. gxf3 Kf2)
Someone asked me how I published the chess diagram in my Chess Wizard Chess Manual. Here are the tools that I used to do this:
During the Easter weekend I played in the 10th Philadelphia Open. I haven't played in large tournaments such as this one so I was quite rusty. To get an even score would be an acceptable result, but in the end, the result was very disappointing. The tournament started OK. I took a half point bye in the first round, and then I played white against a grandmaster to begin the tournament. I played well in that game and I got a draw. In rounds 3 to 5, I played three players who have higher ratings than me and I got drew all three. However, the turning point was the 6th round. I blundered in the following position:
I played 37.Qe5?? and immediately lost the bishop. Can you see why? After the terrible loss in round 6, I played badly in rounds 7 and 8 and lost another two games. In the last round, I managed to draw with my friend Runya, ending up with 4.0/9. Though I lost a couple of rating points, coming out of the tournament, I know where I need to work on to get better. My junior year is coming to a close so I should have more time to study and improve. I already plan to play another big tournament, the 4th Cherry Blossom Classic over the Memorial Day Weekend.
The good news during the Easter weekend is that I was named one of the five winners of the 2016 Scholar – Chess Player Awards. According to the USCF (US Chess Federation), "Chosen from among a highly competitive field of twenty applicants, the five winners—three seniors and two juniors—display a superb combination of scholarly accomplishments, chess achievements, and a record of consistent service to the chess playing community. Each winner receives a $1,500 scholarship created from donations to the US Chess Trust." I am honored to receive this reward, which encourages me to keep improving myself and contribute more to the chess community.
The PA State Scholastic Championship was held again in Lancaster over the weekend. I was the only player with a perfect 5/5 points in the K-12 Open and won the championship for the second year in a row. I will represent PA again in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions this summer. Our club, Chess Wizards, won the first place club team trophy in the K-3 Open also for the second year in a row as well. In addition, my high school team won the fifth place school team trophy in the K-12 Open.
My students also won:
To support this great chess event, five students and I played this tournament last Saturday in Wilmington, DE. This is the first USCF rated tournament I ever played in the state of Delaware. I thank the organizers of the Wilmington Urban Chess Initiative for the invitation. All of us had a great time and we won the first place team and five other individual trophies.
To help my students rated about 1300 to reach 1600 quickly, I created the following study plan. Hope that this will help anyone who wants to improve.
1. Tactics and Calculation
By now, everyone is pretty good at finding basic tactics. Now, we need to work on finding deeper combinations involving more steps. The book that I recommend is "The Manual of Chess Combinations 2". I expect that everyone studies 4 pages (24 positions) each week. Set up the position on a board and work through the puzzles. If you can not figure out the solution in 15 minutes, you should check the answer and figure out what you missed and why you missed it. If you still don't understand the answer after checking it, ask help from your coach.
You can choose any solid opening system and stick with it for right now. Personally I like the following GMs' openings because they all are based on 1.e4 and create open positions that are easy for you to play.
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=95916 (Hou Yifan)
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=130615 (Wei Yi)
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=12088 (Viswanathan Anand)
Your coach should go over your openings when analyzing your games, but the coach should not spend too much time on the openings until you get to 1600. Also you can learn openings on your own by reading books or watching videos.
3. Middlegame (Strategy)
Middlegame and chess strategy is the most advanced topic. This can be learned by analyzing your games. The book "The Reassess Your Chess Workbook" is what I use for my students. I use some examples from this book in the lesson and also assign some problems to study at home.
The endgame is very important, but most chess players neglect to study endgames. I think that endgame is where you need a coach the most. You can learn from the book such as Silman's Complete Endgame Course: From Beginner To Master. But with a coach, you can master the theory quickly. When I was rated 1200, I was studying endgames with my coach weekly for a year.
5. Play more games
Play as many as USCF rated OTB tournaments as possible. Do not be afraid to lose. That's the only way to get better. You may want to consider joining ICC http://www.chessclub.com/ . They have daily tournaments at 2:15 PM (on weekdays, so you can play when there is no school or over a break) and USCF quick rated 12+3 games at 5 PM Saturday . For online practice, ICC is the best server. It is important to analyze your games, especially the ones you lose.
1. New Year tournament and Party
12 players attended the New Year tournament this year. My high school chess teammate Glen and I won all four games (Here are the results). Comparing my students' ratings from this year and last year, all of them gained over 100 points. One of my students even gained 360 points, which is really great! We will focus on preparing for the state championship in March.
2. Thanks to my students for their holiday cards!
3. Rank #7 in the nation in age 16 group
Due to my busy school work, I haven't played many tournaments recently. I was a bit surprised that I was in fact ranked 7th in the nation. I will play more frequently after March.
There are many opportunities to play USCF rated events online. Recently, I have been sharpening up my skills on ICC (Internet Chess Club). The following tournaments on ICC are USCF rated:
1. Monday at 7 PM Server Time, there is a 7 round Swiss with a 3 2 time control.
2. Saturday at 5 PM Server Time, there is a 5 round Swiss with a 12 3 time control.
The ratings from these events are posted in a separate category from over-the-board ratings and are displayed as "online ratings."
Using the projector really helps in my Friday night group lessons. I can show more tactics, play demonstration games online, and analyze students' games easily.
Blunders are horrible, destroying a well-played game. Well, you may not feel that bad if you know that the World Champion also makes blunders. Magnus Carlsen blundered a full piece in this recent game. Carlsen just played 45. Rg8?? (from b8). What should Black do? (The answer is under the board.)
To avoid these blunders, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Why did my opponent make his last move?
2. What should I play in response to that move?
3. What will my opponent play after I make my move?
Answer: 45... Ne7! The discovered attack threatens both the rook and the knight. If White tries 46. Rxg7 to capture the knight, 46... Rxd3+ wins the White knight with check. After 47. Kc4 Rd7, Black will be up a knight for a pawn.