Thursday, May 28

Results at Online Cup for Disabilities

The participants joined an international Zoom meeting. (credit: FIDE)

The 1st FIDE Online Cup for Players with Disabilities on May 21st saw 36 competitors representing 27 countries on five continents battle for five intense rounds of rapid chess at the platform. The diverse field included amateurs and professionals, ranging from one Grandmaster and six International Masters to a handful of unrateds. A quarter of the participants were women. Click for an article at the ChessBase website.

The World Chess Federation (FIDE) organized the tournament as part of a global effort to promote chess and Checkmate Coronavirus. During the brief opening ceremony on Zoom, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich of Russia welcomed the players and encouraged everyone to "stay safe and play chess." International Arbiter Marco Biagioli of Italy directed a smooth event.

When the bits finally settled, GM Marcin Tazbir of Poland took first place on tiebreaks over FM Sander Severino of the Philippines. Tazbir currently ranks as the strongest blind chess player in the world while Severino suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and is confined to a wheelchair. Two Russians shared third place with the Hungarian representative.

Final Standings (see Chess-Results

  1. GM Marcin Tazbir (2510 from Poland) 4.5 out of 5
  2. FM Sander Severino (2364 from Philippines) 4.5
  3. IM Yuri Meshkov (2351 from Russia) 4.0
  4. Denis Palin (2110 from Russia) 4.0
  5. Gabor Acs (2047 from Hungary) 4.0
  6. FM Mihail-Dacian Pribeanu (2207 from Romania) 3.5
  7. IM Dmitrij Scerbin (2260 from Russia) 3.0
  8. FM Vit Valenta (2127 from Czech Republic) 3.0
  9. IM Andrei Gurbanov (2301 from Israel) 3.0
  10. FM Ilia Lipilin (2189 from Russia) 3.0
  11. WIM Natasha Morales Santos (1949 from Puerto Rico) 3.0
  12. FM Sargis Sargissyan (2269 from Armenia) 3.0
  13. Handenur Sahin (1997 from Turkey) 3.0
  14. WCM Annegret Mucha (1998 from Germany) 3.0
  15. Ezekiel Masiko (1830 from Uganda) 3.0 

Competing in my maiden international invitational as the lone American, I aspired to perform sufficiently well to earn a signature win. The results were mixed. My score of 2.0 out of 5 seemed respectable considering the challenging pairings - two IMs and two FMs. Unfortunately, detailed analysis of the games showed that I missed too many tactical combinations, even considering the time control of G/10 + inc/5. In the first round, I achieved a dominant position within a dozen moves as black against an Israeli IM, yet inexplicably left my rook en prise on move 19. At least I could blame the 6:00 AM start time for that blunder. Three rounds later, I gleefully forced a draw by repetition after an inferior opening, but failed to even consider a crushing zwischenzug.

IM Andrei Obodchuk
(credit: ChessFest2019)
FM Ilia Lipilin
(credit: Dora Martinez)

While I did defeat an underrated young man from Uganda, my signature result was a draw versus Russian IM Andrei Obodchuk, the 8-time (former) world champion of the Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPCA). Nobody would confuse this game with a brilliancy, but my students know how much I cherish saving difficult endgames.

In the final round, I faced FM Ilia Lipilin from Russia, the 2-time defending World Junior Champion for Players with Disabilities. The opening went well, but my opponent turned the tables after a missed opportunity on move 27. Well played young master!

Regardless of my personal result, the Online Cup for Players with Disabilities was well organized and a truly enjoyable opportunity for the players. I deeply appreciated the invitation from FIDE and US Chess to participate.

Stay home. Be safe. Play chess. #checkmatecoronavirus

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