Half-Time at Club Championship
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Raoul Crisologo pondering his move against Ryan Chen.
The Mel Clark Club Championship continued last night numerous surprise results, especially on the top four boards. The rating gaps between the players weren't astronomical but the difference was still 200 points
on each board which should heavily favor the higher rated player.
On top board, Melandro Singson (2109) was black against Tom Zapanta (2005) in a wild Sicilian Najdorf. With white castling queenside and black castling kingside, it was always going to be a race to see whose king
would be mated first! White was able to temporarily win a pawn on d5 which gained a nice space advantage and Zapanta then infiltrated on the g file. Both of his rooks were bearing down on the sensitive g7 square in
front of black's king (and with no more g pawn as cover!) and, when white's queen swung over for a piece of the action, black's position looked perilous. However, Singson showed that isn't a Master for nothing and kept
nullifying the threats until white decided to bail out and take a draw by perpetual check. Optically, the position still looked fantastic for white (and he was surely the only one with serious winning chances) but Zapanta
understandably was content with a draw against such a highly rated player.
Daniel Manahan (1944) was white on board 2 vs David Bassett (2141) and here too the underdog proved to be at least a match for his higher rated opponent. The opening was a King's Indian but took on an almost Sicilian
structure after white castled queenside. Manahan had a good space advantage and superior development and possibly missed some ways of applying further pressure. In the end, Bassett was able to hold out for a well deserved
draw and the result keeps both players in a tie for second place at the tournament's halfway stage.
On board 3, Stephanie Shao (1906) took on Dave Matson (2029) with white and played the Scotch Game against her expert opponent. As the middle game progressed, things looked finely balanced, the main difference being white's
knight vs black's bishop but with queens and one rook each still on the board. Shao was able to "win" black's queen but at the cost of her rook, knight and a pawn, which in theory is equal material but it depends on the position.
As it happened, Matson had it all worked out because all the pawns were on the kingside and he was able to easily build a fortress with his rook and light squared bishop holding everything together. A draw was therefore soon agreed.
Board 4 saw another Scotch Game, this time employed by Raoul Crisologo (2026) in game against Ryan Chen (1910). White looked to have a decent position, with his bishop getting to h6 and eyeing the dark squared around Chen's king. However,
a very unfortunate blunder saw Crisologo hang a piece in a time scramble in the end game and he was forced to resign.
The evening's other upsets included Daniel Zhou's (1649) draw with Simon Slutsky (1879), Kyle Li's (1553) surprise win over Phil Chase (1843), and Edward Chou's (1411) draw with Victor Alarcon (1706). The final two shocks came courtesy
of Lu Tong (948) who overcame a 350 point rating different to beat Abinanda Mukundan (1303) and, saving the best until last, Brian Chen's (1374) sensational draw with expert Dane Hinrichsen (2000).
The club's second "Quextra" event also took place at the same time as the main tournament. Although the tournout was low, a few players still had a good time playing rated quick games. Our thanks to Mike Carlson for continuing to organize
the "Quextra" events! There will be another one on Monday, March 31, starting at 7:15pm. Anyone interested in playing should check the rules
ahead of time or turn up before 7:15pm on the 31st.
The Club Championship continues Monday, March 24.