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Cover Story / The Struggle

Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and it left an impression on him—so big of one that he carefully researched the company that provided the chess tables for the St. Louis Club and ordered three of the same. “The first tournament was held on December 8th, 2012. After seeing

how much everyone liked the three tables I was inspired to add another three. Now I have six, but I kept the original name of Three Tables Chess,” he tells me. “It just has a nicer sound to it.”

The tables are now set up carefully

through out his “chess room” and wooden plaques, replicas from those at the Hall of Fame itself, hang on the walls sur - rounding the playing area. “So, assuming that strong competition

was the primary motivation, I began to understand why players didn’t travel much to play at small local events. That’s what led me to hit upon the idea of an invitation tournament; if stronger players knew that other stronger players would be there by inviting them, that might increase the number of players willing to travel.” He was right, I thought, it worked for

to make sense of it in some way, I’m in Kentucky, after suffering my way through long, dull interstates which resulted in neither beer nor Chicago baseball, because I like good ideas. “I heard people frequently question why stronger players in Kentucky

don’t play as much once they achieve a higher rating,” Michael says. “I would hear stories of players traveling an hour or two to be the only strong player at the open tournament.” Over a decade ago, in 2003, Tim

In America, quality open events are very hard to come by, especially outside of large population centers. To really improve, one has to have not only desire but also resources, and one has to understand that a desire to improve requires expenditure of resources.

me. All it took to convince me to make the solo nine-hour round trip was a 12- man invitational rating list with everyone between 2100 and 2440. Michael showed me the attendees and my instant reaction was, “Hell yeah I’m in.” “I suggested this to organizers for a while,” he continues, “but no one ever did it. I finally decided to give it a try.”

Three Tables chess is an idea. So I guess if I had to put it into words,

not to worry about my round-four opponent and sleep. But part of my improvement—I should mention, back in 2013, I asked Gopal to train with me, I told him I’d finally commit—is the extra effort, the one or two steps more to make that tiny incremental progress actual progress instead of regression. So, ok, back to Nolte-Tiviakov:

36. Bg4 Bxg4

McEntee and I had the same problem in Iowa. Every in-state tournament was Tim seed 1, me seed 2 (or vice versa), and, assuming the only other master level player Mitch Weiss didn’t show (which he usually didn’t), no one else within 200 rating points. Such is the struggle of mid-to-small state chess. In Iowa, it has gotten better, now, but it took a lot of hard work. We organ ized FIDE futurities in Ames—Tim was to thank for all of them, I just made the sug gestion and let him do the real work. The two of us played as frequently as possible, helped out at local chess clubs, gave lectures, attended almost every tournament. It was exhausting. But now, finally, things in Iowa aren’t so bad. It isn’t the rating wasteland it once was. We both helped a few students

pass the 2100 rating mark and mean while other masters sprang up. Robert Keating made a successful transition from correspond ence chess to over-the-board play; Kushan Tyagi, a former student, broke through to master; and Dan Brashaw turned a successful scholastic experience into a national master title himself. James Neal, I have no doubt, will be next. Tim and I, and others, stayed the course. I wonder if Michael will do the same.

“threat” ... Nd4 may have hypnotized White into further passivity. 33. Bf5+! was winning. All of White’s pieces start to cooperate, e.g.: Kg7 34. Qh5 Nd4 35. Ng4 Rdf8 36. Nxh6!

33. ... Kg7 34. Qd3 Nd4 35. Red2 Qc6 36. f3 Qc5 37. Ng4 Rff8 38. Nf2 Ne6 39. Kf1 Nd4 40. Kg1 Kf6 41. Kh1 Ke7 42. Qb1!

The threat of an Exchange sacrifice on d4

explains Black’s next move. 42. ... Ne6 43. Nd3 Qc7 44. Qc2 Nc5

A very tough call, since it was also tempting

to chase the bishop with the idea to try to mobilize Black’s kingside via 44. ... Ng7 and a subsequent ... h6-h5. However, that would leave the c5-square un-guarded and White could lever the position open with c4-c5.

45. Bg6 Ne6 46. Nc1 Nd4? Outright inviting a dangerous sacrifice. How -

“OK it’s just dead equal.” 24 March 2016 | Chess Life

ever, we’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again, White is unwilling to engage in active operations.

47. Qd3? 47. Rxd4 exd4 48. Ne2. Hard to hold practically.

47. ... Rf6 48. Bh5 Ne6 49. Bg4 Nc5 Black takes care to find the best stands for his

pieces before attempting the final breakthrough. 50. Qc2 Rh8

Hinting at activity …

51. Bf5 Which White, under duress of time, ignores.

More consistent was to blockade with 51. Bh5. 51. ... h5 52. Nd3 g4!?

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