Thursday, May 15

Josh Spanks Sam at US Championship

(NM Sam Shankland on left and IM Josh Friedel goofing off at the now-defunct East Bay Chess Club about two years ago.)

It is never ideal when the teacher has to face his student in a serious tournament game. The student usually feels extra motivation to play well while the teacher benefits when the student performs well. The goal of "I'm going to teach him a lesson" often proves easier said than done. I can relate from personal experience, both as teacher and student.

Perhaps IM Josh Friedel can relate as well. He was paired against his star student, NM Sam Shankland, in a pivotal round 5 game at the US Championship Qualifier in March. Sam won that game after mutual mistakes. Lo and behold, they squared off again at the US Championship itself, but this time the teacher prevailed in a strong display of positional dominance in an Old Indian Defense. By move 25, black's pieces had simply run out of squares to move to! You can play through the Friedel-Shankland game on Chess Publisher.

This outcome left Josh at 1.0/2 and Sam scoreless. The other local players had mixed results. WIM Batchimeg Tuvshintugs (2.0/2) won her second game in a row at the US Women's Championship, but she faces a difficult test today as white against top rated IM Irina Krush (2515). IM David Pruess (0.5/2) was on the short end of a positional masterpiece by GM Yury Shulman. Last but not least, yesterday's hero GM Alex Yermolinsky (1.5/2) played a short draw against veteran GM Boris Gulko.

My favorite game of round 2 was the tactical blizzard by Cuban-American GM Julio Becerra, who absolutely crushed GM John Fedorowicz in a Taimanov Sicilian. The fun began when white declined to recapture a piece and instead harassed the black queen with 13.Bf4. After the queen's came off on move 19, black's only developed piece was his king. Kids, don't try this at home! The rest was easy: white's bishop pair and a protected passed pawn on g7 force black to capitulate early. I had the pleasure of playing against Becerra at last year's tournament; he blew me away as well.

You can watch the games live daily beginning at 12:30pm PDT. Either log into ICC and click on the Events list (scroll down about halfway) or click on the MonRoi games link at the official US Championship website.

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