Monday, November 14, 2011

Road trip: Kings Island Open

I saw many Chicago players this weekend at the Kings Island Open in Mason, Ohio: the top section included GM Dmitry Gurevich, FM Andrew Karklins, and FM Aleksandar Stamnov, and Wayne Clark was one of the directors.  The top Illinois finisher, FM Igor Tsyganov, scored an undefeated 3½-1½ and drew GM Alexander Shabalov.  Kentucky lion Gregory Kaidanov took top honors in the Open Section with a perfect 5-0.

Congratulations to Illinois players Zhijin Hu, who won $1186 for clear first in the Under 1250 section, and Delondon Hawthorne, who won $678 for equal first in the Under 1000 section.

Vanity p.s.: I won the $678 "second-best fish" prize when the congenial NM Owechuku Iwu (who'd previously beaten me four games in a row) once again outplayed me as he normally does, but then went wrong in a tricky bishop vs. knight ending.  But is there any other kind?

Brock-Iwu, Kings Island Open 2011
Black to play

The problems that knights have in stopping rook pawns from queening are legendary.  But sometimes bishops have issues coping with rook pawns, too, especially when they're supported by a friendly king and knight.  (I learned this lesson the hard way from Jiri Marek at the 2002 Illinois Open.)

Normally, play on both sides of the board favors the player with the bishop, and Black is up two pawns to boot.  But it seems that White is not worse here!  Dr. Iwu went into a 45-minute think, then played 1...Kb3?  2.Kxf7 h4 3.Nd3, and White soon won.  What would you have done?  Some reasonable-looking moves appear to lose, and I suspect that two strange-looking moves draw.

Crosstables here!

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