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that’s the most important thing to pre- pare before a tournament.” During the tournament, his focus car-

ried him through sticky situations in games. “Almost every game had a moment where I got careless at some point and I was either worse, or I was put in situa- tions where I really had to think. A big factor in my success had to do with being mentally determined to stay in the game and recover after my mistakes,” he said. “The schedule at nationals makes it as much as a physical test as a mental test,” and he added that he felt he had a lot of stamina going into the event. Eric said he’s also developed a trick

for gathering his thoughts during tough parts of a game: He pretends he’s explain- ing the game to someone else. “It helps me to organize my thoughts, and it helps me commit myself and feel confident about going in a certain direction.” He acknowledges luck also played a

factor. His toughest match was when he blundered early to another Midwest favorite, Indiana’s Daniel Gater, and had to fight back. Gater missed a winning move in that game, but had an excep- tional tournament overall, losing only to Eric, gaining 55 rating points and com- ing in second place on tiebreaks. Eric knows how crucial a good sup-

port system is, and he credits his team and coaches for helping with his suc- cess. His Niles North High School team has consistently been among the top teams in the state for years before he was a student there. This is despite the fact that the head coach, Niles North High School physics teacher Harry Kyri- azes, can play at about a 1200-rating strength on a good day, and the assistant coach, English teacher Heather Ingra- ham, has developed her knowledge just to the point where she knows how the pieces move and is working on her pins and forks. They almost never go into the play- ing room during a tournament, and don’t look at the team standings. But they do provide a great spread of food. What they lack in in-depth chess knowledge they make up for by being master facilitators. They’ve created a supportive and nur- turing environment where enthusiasm reigns and the students take ownership of their own learning. The results were clear this year: the team took fourth place over much higher-rated competition. For Eric, the ability to serve as team

leader benefitted him as much as his teammates. “After every round, I would go back to our team room and review my game with my teammates. This is mutu- ally beneficial. It’s hard to explain, but expressing my thoughts about my game helps get it out of me and clear my head for the next round.” He also knows himself well enough to

50 Chess Life — August 2011

separate himself from the group and get some alone time before each round. He was most nervous before his game with Alex Ostrovskiy. “I knew I didn’t want to lose that game and have to play a weaker player in the last round just to get an average score. After I won, I was able to relax. I had nothing more to lose.” He felt he had the psychological advan-

tage going into the final round. He led the field by half-point, and was facing number- one seed Marc Tyler Arnold, who was in a must-win situation. His best strategy, he said, “was not to give him a position out of the opening that he would be happy with.”

English Opening (A21) Eric Rosen (2274) IM Marc Tyler Arnold (2521) National High School (7), 05.01.2011 Notes by Eric Rosen

After I had beaten Ostrovskiy in the

pivotal sixth round, I more or less knew I would be playing Arnold for the cham- pionship. I had about an hour to rest, eat, prepare, and keep the nerves from getting to me. Going into the round, I was the only 6/6 score and Arnold was right behind me with 51

⁄2 /6. I knew that a draw

would guarantee me at least a tie for the championship and Arnold was in a must- win situation. I tried not to think about it. I told myself: “Just play good chess.”

1. c4!? An unexpected move. While I am mostly

an e4-player, and almost all of my games as white in the database begin with 1. e4. I chose to play the English opening for two reasons: 1) I was expecting Arnold to show up somewhat late to the game (as he did in other games) in order to prepare for me. Playing the English would avoid all of his preparation. 2) I did not want to enter any theoretical Sicilian lines, as I knew Arnold was very booked. I was just aiming for a solid position.

1. ... e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 Sending me out of book and into

thought (on just the second move!). 3. Qb3 I was aware that the mainline is 3.

Nd5, but I didn't feel comfortable going into that without any preparation. I came up with Qb3 over the board to get out of theory and to simply play chess.

3. ... Nc6 4. Nf3 Be7 Avoiding Nxe5 ideas, and not wanting

to concede the bishop pair. 4. ... Nf6? 5. Nxe5! Bxc3 6. Qxc3 wins a pawn for White.

5. e3 d6 6. Be2 Nh6!? An interesting idea by Arnold. He

intends to keep the option of playing f5 open as well as possibly bringing the knight to f5 if White ever plays d2-d4.

7. 0-0 0-0 8. a3 A waiting move which I figured would

become useful later in the game. White waits for Black to play ... f7-f5 so he can respond with d2-d4. If 8. d4?! immedi- ately, then 8. ... exd4 9. exd4 Nf5 seemed comfortable for Black.

8. ... f5 9. d4 Nf7 10. Rd1 Qe8 11. Nd5 Bd8 12. Qc2


pz pzp-+nzpp -+nzp-+-+ +-+Nzpp+- -+PzP-+-+

Pz -+-zPN+- -zPQ+LzPPzP Rt -vLR+-mK-

After 12. Qc2 White’s plan here is very straightfor-

ward: play b2-b4 followed by Bb2 and increase the tension in the center. If Black ever plays ... e5-e4, then White can respond with Nd2 and f2-f3 breaking up the center.

12. ... Nb8!? I did not consider this strange move for

Black. While almost all of his pieces are on the back rank, there are no weak- nesses to attack. Black is planning ... c7-c6 and ... Nd7-f6 with a balanced posi- tion. I joked after the game that perhaps ... Nh8 was his next move, setting up a Fischer-random position. Worse is 12. ... e4?! 13. Nd2 g5 14. f3 exf3 15. Nxf3.

13. b4 c6 14. Nc3 e4?! Probably not the most accurate move.

While the knight is forced to retreat, f2-f3 will come next breaking up the center. It doesn’t look like Black will be quick enough to play ... d6-d5. Perhaps 14. ... g6 followed by ... Nd7-f6 is better, maintaining the tension; 14. ... Nd7? fails to 15. Qxf5.

15. Nd2 Nd7 16. f3 exf3 17. Nxf3 Ng5 Preparing … d5 with 17. ... Nf6 does-

n’t quite work: 18. Bd3 g6 19. e4! with a nice position for White.

18. Nxg5 Bxg5 19. e4! Gaining space in the center and secur-

ing a comfortable advantage. 19. ... f4 Perhaps this line is better than the

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