Tuesday, July 29

IM Ooops!

(White just retreated Nb2 to attack the c4 pawn. Black to move and win!)

No, this position is not an optical illusion, although I did spend a full minute to double, triple and even quadruple check all of the possibilities. Merely a couple of moves out of theory, white hung a piece to an elementary tactic and immediately resigned after black played the correct response. The shocking part of the story is that white is not an amateur, but rather an International Master! The Mongolian IM Odondoo Ganbold, rated 2380 FIDE, gave me this gift win with the black pieces on Monday afternoon in the Alan Benson IM norm tournament played at the Mechanics' Institute.

This quick victory improved my score to 50% after four games. On the bright side, I already played against all of the three youngsters in the 10-player round robin, drawing with both FM-elect Sam Shankland and FM Daniel Naroditsky but losing badly to NM Gregory Young. My performance rating going into the 2-week break in my playing schedule is 2324. However, to earn a norm, I will need to score 4.0 out of the remaining five games, including contests versus International Masters Vladimir Mezentsev (as black), Ricardo DeGuzman (as black) and John Grefe (as white). While not entirely impossible, this does seem like an incredibly steep mountain to climb. Wish me luck!

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