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Cover Story / The Struggle THREE TABLES CHESS & THE 61ST IOWA OPEN M

ichael Johnson and Mark Capron had, at its absolute essence, the exact same idea: to run a quality chess tournament, top- down.

“We got a few donations, but we had to be willing to put some money

on the line to make it successful,” Mark tells me. “Our goal was two hundred, and we did it. Two thirty eight. I think that a few titled players over the years and this past year really helped get the attendance,” he continues, “IM Michael Brooks, FM Awonder Liang (now IM. ~ed.), IM Angelo Young, IM Arjun Vishnuvardhan, and of course GM Alex Yermolinsky. In 2015, we even had two titled female players, WGM Camilla Baginskaite and WCM Claudia Munoz, all the way from Texas.” Sound familiar? Like Michael, Mark saw the trend: players want

competition. It’s hard to run a quality event, truly it is. There may be risk. There may be setbacks. “Securing several titled players to come was key,” Mark says. “People want the chance to play them, or at least watch their games.” There may be problems, both financial and logistical. And sometimes

it takes a leap of faith. Sometimes it takes a do-it-yourself attitude which spurs you to knock down a wall in your house, invite over some strangers, and hold master-level tournaments there. Sometimes it takes a trip to the World Chess Hall of Fame. Sometimes, it takes a little inspiration. It’s hard to run a quality event, really, but in the summer of 2015, Mark Capron and Michael Johnson both pulled one off. Both of them are quick to shift credit to others, though. Mark will

readily mention current IASCA President Eric Vigil, or FIDE Arbiter Bill Broich, amongst others. It’s a team effort to bring together an event such as the 61st Iowa Open, and the team performed well. Michael, on the other hand, says he wants to continue because “the tournaments are impor tant to the people who play them. Fortunately,” he says, “people took a chance and started coming.” After agreeing to play in the Three Tables Chess master invitational, I forced myself to participate in a few local events with fast time

controls. The Three Tables tournament would use a quicker time control—Game/90 d5—than the 90+30 FIDE events I had become accus tomed to in Chicago. I spent resources—time, chiefly, and energy, but also money, to play in events I would otherwise not have played in, because there was a goal in sight, a light at the end of the tunnel. After miserably dropping points left and right while training myself to play quicker, I knew that I had, back to back, Three Tables Chess and the Iowa Open to look forward to. And I was going to have myself ready. The secret is not to stop. So I find myself in Shelbyville, in the

Interwood Forest Products conference room, where Michael had moved the tournament for overflow, playing on premium, custom-made wooden chess tables with top-notch sets. It feels like a real event. It feels like I am doing something. The local news comes. Everyone seems happy, invested, interested. The secret is not to stop. So I find myself in an enormous high-

ceilinged warehouse-style ballroom with two hundred and thirty eight entrants from every surrounding state compet ing in the 61st Iowa Open. In between, I enjoy lunch with Peer Saleem and my student Arshaq. We joke around, remember the lean years of Iowa chess. After my last round finish of 41

⁄2 /5 guarantees me a tie for first with IM Michael

Brooks (and, ultimately, Gopal and Angelo, too), Arshaq says, “Yeah but Brooks has won this thing like seven times.” “Maybe,” I say, quickly tabbing away from the Sinquefield Cup

broadcast on my laptop to pull up the Member Services Area page, “but has he ever won it as a 1900?” I ask, spinning the laptop around to display the 2002 Iowa Open crosstable, where I, a 1913-rated A-Player, split top honors at 4/5. We both laugh. “Probably not,” Arshaq says. Later, when the tournament has concluded and we are on the drive

home, “Gopal,” I say somewhere in the emptiness of western Illinois, “chess is fun again.”

61. ... Bd7 62. Rh1 Bxh3 63. Kg1 Rhg6?

73. Ke2 Kc6 74. Rh2 Kc5 Still good, but it was possible to try to go on a

rampage with the rook—74. ... Rg1 White can’t defend all of the pawns after this. For example 75. Kd3 Rf1 76. Rh3 (76. Ke2 Rb1) 76. ... Rf2 Zugzwang.

75. Kf2 Rg6? Still maintaining an edge, but spoiling a great

“Ah.” I stopped mindlessly clicking the worn touchpad. “There it is.” “Ra8?” Gopal is always a move ahead of

me. “No, Qh6.”

62. Kg2 Rh8 63. Qg1 Rcc8 64. Rc1 Ra8 65. Rd2 Ra3 66. Kf2 Qh2+ 67. Qg2 Qf4, White resigned.

“Very nice.” “You’re welcome.”

Maintaining a pull in the rook endgame, but

missing a chance to cash in with 63. ... Bxg2!! 64. Bxg2 (64. Rxh6 Bxf3+ 65. Kh2 Bxe4) 64. ... Rxh1+ 65. Kxh1 Rxb3.

64. Rh2 Bg4 65. Kf1 Rg7 66. Ke2 Bxf3+ 67. gxf3 Rg1 68. Kd3 Rc1 69. Rc2 Rb1 70. Rb2 Rxb2 71. Rxb2 Rg3 72. Rf2 Kd7

Black improves to the maximum by bringing the king to c5.

part of the advantage 75. ... Kd4 76. Rh6 It was undoubtedly this move Black feared, but Black just invades and wins on the queenside. 76. ... Kc3 77. Rxd6 Kxb3 78. Rd5 (78. c5 Rg7 White is getting nowhere) 78. ... Ka2.

76. Rh1! A great defense, stopping Black’s idea to invade

and creating counterplay which is hard to control in time trouble.

76. ... Kd4 77. Rc1 Kd3 78. c5 dxc5 79. Rxc5 Rg5?

(see diagram next box, next page)

26 March 2016 | Chess Life

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