Twenty-four hardy souls braved snow, ice and bitter cold to play in the Evanston Rapids (game/29) on Saturday, January 22 at the Levy Senior Center. Enterprising (read "dubious") play and a little luck gave yours truly a 5-0 sweep in my first rapid tournament ever, and my first OTB tournament of the millennium! (Yes, you read that right; my last OTB tournament was in 2000, which purists will tell you is part of the prior millennium (1001-2000).) Theodore Mercer, Jr. and Jiri Kabelac tied for second at 4-1. Kabelac missed a draw in a king and pawn ending against me in round 4, with both of us having seconds left and playing on the 3-second increment.
Other notable results include Brian Harrigan of Indiana and Chad Hirsch, who both scored 3-2 and gained a boatload of rating points. Harrigan played the top three finishers, scoring 1-2 against us, and went from 1385 to 1505. Hirsch, rated just 1292, downed two 1600s and a 1700, gaining 166 rating points. The crosstable is here. (Don't ask me why the USCF claims I had a provisional quick rating of 2201 going into the tournament - unless they took my 2201 "slow" rating and used that as a guesstimate of my quick rating.) Mariano Acosta, a Life Master at standard time controls, was one of four players who took a half-point bye in the first round. Unfortunately, his loss to Sergatskov in round 3 took him out of contention, although he won his other games.
Thanks to über-organizer Maret Thorpe for organizing and directing the event, and for inviting me to be the guest master. It was great fun.
In Round 5, I offered a draw on move 1 to Dmitri Sergatskov, figuring that if he accepted I'd win the tournament outright and if he declined, he was apt to become overconfident. He decided to play on, and equalized easily with 5...d5!, a trick I hadn't seen before. At move 10, any sane person would have played 10.Bd2, e.g. 10...Bxd2+ 11.Qxd2 Qd6= Mareco-Gil. Garcia, Buenos Aires 2005 (1/2-1/2, 21). Perhaps because Bill Smythe was in the tournament, I preferred the zany 10.Ke2?! Sergatskov promptly blundered with 11...c5?, allowing 12.Nxf5! with an unusual variant of the fork trick (12...Bxf5 13.dxe4). He tried a different line, but this led to an ending where he had no compensation for my extra pawn. After 29.Rxd6!, he resigned in light of 29...Rxd6 30.Be5 Kc7 31.Rd1, when White will trade off on d6 and reach a bishop ending with three extra pawns.