Wednesday, December 17

David Pruess Or Paul Morphy?

(IM David Pruess may show future students some of the tactics in the Cochrane gambit.)

Four rounds have been completed in the Berkeley International. After two rounds, the six Grandmasters in the field had combined for an unimpressive 5.5/12 score, under 50%. They stormed back with four wins in round 3 and two in round 4--more importantly with no defeats. The top two seeds, GM Zviad Izoria and GM Giorgi Kacheishvili (both from the country of Georgia) are tied for first at 3.0 out of 4. Order has returned to the leaderboard.

However, IM David Pruess prefers chaos over order on his chessboard. He no doubt shocked most observers by essaying the Cochrane gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nxf7) in the fourth round. Check out the game on Chess Publisher by clicking on this link. This gambit, which is considered theoretically dubious by most, leads to complications that favor a creative attacker such as Pruess. His opponent, FM Dale Haessel, was unable to cope with the surprising sacrifice and succumbed to checkmate on move 22. The fatal mistake may have occurred quite early; theory suggests a plan of either 5... c5 and 6... Be6 or 5... Be7 and 6... Re8, but not 5... Be7 and 6... c5. Pay attention kids: If your opponent mixes up opening lines in a sharp opening, look for a refutation!

There has been excitement on other boards too. FM Daniel Rensch from Arizona, who appears to be intimidated by nobody, remains tied for first place with two wins and two draws against a daily double of GMs and IMs. He appears to be on his way to an IM norm, and perhaps even a GM norm. The early leader, FM Marc Esserman from Florida, cooled off a bit but remains in contention for both norms because he has already faced four Grandmasters.

Local 13-year old star FM Daniel Naroditsky may be the shortest player in the field, but he stands tall at 2.0/4 with a 2383 performance rating after an impressive win in the Kan Sicilian over IM Sandor Kustar from Hungary. FM Bela Evans (see photo at left), who spends most days working for the Fremont area scholastic organization Success Chess, has collected a hat trick of draws against titled players, including GM Jesse Kraai. In the most entertaining game versus IM Justin Sarkar, Evans demonstrated the power of a pesky knight pair to overcome the deficit of an exchange (R+N vs N+N) in the endgame.

Standings after round 4:

  • 3.0 Z.Izoria, G.Kacheishvili, D.Rensch
  • 2.5 J.Friedel, I.Krush, D.Pruess, D.Sharavdorj, M.Esserman
  • 2.0 V.Bhat, J.Sarkar, D.Naroditsky
  • 1.5 J.Kraai, L.Milman, B.Evans, I.Zenyuk, D.Haessel
  • 0.5 S.Kustar, S.Shivaji, S.Jahedi
Check out the pairings for the next round daily after 11:00pm. For analysis of some exciting games, please visit Dana Mackenzie's chess blog.

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