Father knows best?

IM Igor Khmelnitsky and his daughter, Nikki, at SuperNationals VI. Photo courtesy of Khmelnitsky
This past Father’s Day, there were numerous chess tournaments held around the country, and what better way for a Father/Daughter to spend time than playing in a chess tournament? Even better is when that Father/Daughter team combine to win the first place Mixed Doubles prize.  That is exactly what happened June 16-18 at the Continental Class Championship, but perhaps in a slightly unusual manner. Nikki Khmelnitsky teamed up with her father International Master Igor Khmelnitsky.  They scored a combined seven out of ten and each won $400.  However, Nikki carried the team scoring four points in the Class C section while her much higher rated father could only manage three points in the Open Section.  In fairness, her father played a GM and an IM.  Last year at this tournament, Nikki was rated 1193.  After this year’s event, she is 1587.  If she continues at this rate, she is going to very soon tell her dad that she is too high rated, and he will have to find another partner because the average team rating has to be under 2200! Igor and his daughter, Nikki, are frequent CCA competitors.  He commented on playing in this tournament Father’s Day weekend:
"As we were looking for a tournament for Nikki to play in June, the Continental Class Championships from June 16-18 in Falls Church, Virginia quickly became our top choice. The tournament was only a three hour drive from the Philadelphia area, it had an Under 1600 section, the Westin is a high quality Hotel, and a the tournament would be guaranteed quality of a CCA run event–-all seemed like good enough reasons to come. However, what really made me commit was the occasion that Father's Day happened to fall on the last day of the tournament. What could be better than spending time and the chess tournament (the game that I loved for 40+ years) with my daughter who seems to enjoy the game? And on top, I would indirectly celebrate my late father Naum, who was born on June 17th 1941. He loved chess and taught me how to play. He was my biggest supporter and critic. He passed almost 20 years ago---way too soon. He would be proud that the seed that he planted years ago continues. My kids, Alec and Nikki, play competitive chess. While Alec shifted his focus to other endeavors, Nikki continues battling on the chessboard, climbing up the rating ladder. I wasn’t planning to play.  These days, I am pretty much content to be a father, a coach, and a driver. I am always happy to chat with other players and parents, and I sign copies of my Chess Exam books. However, since I couldn’t find a suitable (I am picky, like any father!) partner for Nikki for Mixed Doubles, I decided to enter. This wasn’t my best tournament, but with 1 win and 4 tough draws, I managed to get just enough points for our team to win 1st place. Of course, the main force this time was Nikki! In only her second CCA event in the U1600 section, she played tough and ended up scoring 4/5. Here is one of her better endgames":
[pgn][Event "Continental Chess Open VA U1600"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.06.18"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Khmelnitsky, Nikki"]
[Black "Nunemunthala, Anshu"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A36"]
[WhiteElo "1505"]
[BlackElo "1450"]
[Annotator "Nikki K., Igor K"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "1r3rk1/4npbp/p2p2p1/3Ppb2/2P5/P1N3P1/3B1PBP/1R3RK1 w - - 0 20"]
[PlyCount "43"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]20. Ne4 Rxb1 $2 21. Rxb1 {NK - Black made a mistake of playing
Rxb1 because now I have the open file, and he cannot play Rb8 to reclaim it.}
Bxe4 22. Bxe4 {NK - Black has just made another mistake because by taking the
N on e4, he has traded one of his bishop's for my last N, giving me a pair of
bishops. In an endgame, a pair of bishops is stronger than B + N or N+N. IK -
the latter comment if true very often, but certainly not awlays!} f5 23. Bf3
Nc8 24. Rb7 {NK - My rook gets inside his position} Bf6 25. Be2 e4 26. Rc7 Bb2
27. a4 (27. Bb4) 27... Ba3 28. Rc6 {NK - I saw I can win the pawn. IK -
converting positional advantage into material one} Bc5 29. Rxa6 Re8 30. Ra8 Kf7
31. Be3 {NK - exchanging my B for Black's important defender. IK: One
advantage of having a Bishop pair is an ability to trade one or both when
position dictates.} Bxe3 32. fxe3 Nb6 33. Rxe8 Kxe8 34. a5 Nc8 35. h3 g5 36.
Kg2 Kf7 37. Bd1 Kf6 38. Ba4 $1 {IK - an excellent placement. From here the B
can do at least 4 different things - support a-Pawn, support pawn break via
pc4-c5, attack f5-P from d7 and also e4-P from c2} Ke7 (38... Ke5 39. g4 f4 40.
Kf2 f3 41. Kg3) 39. g4 $1 {IK - another very nice move. White underminds
Black's pawn chain.} f4 40. Kf2 (40. Bc2 $1) 40... f3 (40... Kf6 41. Bd7 Na7
42. Bf5 $18) 41. Bc2 {IK - this excellent endgame got Nikki to 3.5 / 4 and set
up the final showdown} 1-0[/pgn]
Both team members also cashed in their respective sections and finished undefeated.  Igor won his first round and then drew with the eventual tournament winner, GM Jesse Kraai, in round two and New York State Champion IM Alex Ostrovskiy in round three.  Unfortunately, he drew both games on Sunday, and, though he won $200 and shared 3rd place, this was surely a disappointing event for him. Nikki on the other hand finished quite strong and had a chance to win the entire event.  After winning in round one, she faced the top seeded player in her section: Laszlo Offertaler.  She drew the game, and this would be the only game Offertaler did not win as he scored 4 ½ points and took clear first in the section.  Nikki kept pace with Offertaler winning her next two games against higher rated players.  She had the opportunity to tie for first, but could only manage a draw in the last round and had to settle for $500.  Her two draws being against the section champion and the other player tied for second, Adam Friedman, netted her 82 rating points! Finally, there should be a tribute to fathers everywhere who supported their children’s chess endeavors.  Fathers teach their children chess, encourage their children, take their children to tournaments and make possible their children’s participation in chess.  On Father’s Day weekend, we celebrated fathers everywhere.  It is wonderful that we can use chess to join in that celebration! The Open section featured an interesting tie for first.  FM Sahil Sinha won all his games.  He started 3-0 and was the only perfect score Saturday night.  Sinha was seeded 7th, but he beat two of his rivals: 4th seeded NM Andrew Samuelson and 5th seeded NM Andrew Zheng.  Sinha could not play on Sunday and opted for two half point byes and 4-1 was good enough for the first place tie. The other co-champion was the top seeded player, but he had to win both games on Sunday to catch Sinha.  GM Jesse Kraai won in round one but gave up draws in rounds 2 and 3 to IM Khmelnitsky and NM Mike Fellman.  Kraai defeated FM Trung Nguyen and NM Zheng on Sunday to finish 4-1.  Because Sinha had the unplayed games, Kraai had significantly better tiebreaks and won the $100 bonus. Going into Sunday’s rounds, Sinhas was 3-0, and everybody knew he would finish with 4 due to the half point byes.  One player had 2 ½ - FM Trung Nguyen.  Seven players had 2-1. They would need to go 2-0 on Sunday to catch Sinha.  GM Kraai was the only one to do so, and he knocked out FM Nguyen in round four.
[pgn][Event "Continental Class Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.06.18"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Kraai, Jesse"]
[Black "Nguyen, Trung"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B06"]
[WhiteElo "2563"]
[BlackElo "2274"]
[PlyCount "67"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. Nf3 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. e4 d6 4. Nc3 a6 5. Be2 Nd7 6. O-O e6 7. Bg5 Ne7 8. Qd2
h6 9. Be3 Nf6 10. h3 g5 11. Nh2 Ng6 12. f4 gxf4 13. Bxf4 Qe7 14. Be3 b5 15. b4
Bb7 16. a4 bxa4 17. Rxa4 Nxe4 18. Nxe4 Bxe4 19. Bxa6 Rb8 20. Nf3 f5 21. Be2 Qf6
22. Ra7 Ne7 23. c4 Nc6 24. Rxc7 Kd8 25. Rxc6 Bxc6 26. b5 Be4 27. c5 Ke8 28.
cxd6 Rb6 29. Ne5 Rxd6 30. Qb4 Bf8 31. Bh5+ Ke7 32. Qc5 Qg7 33. Qc7+ Kf6 34.
Ng4+ 1-0[/pgn]
NM Fellman had a great tournament that did not result in any prize money.  After taking a half point bye, Fellman defeated FM Macon Shibut and drew with Kraai and Khmelnitsky.  Being on the wrong end of a last round upset kept him out of the money, but the win and two draws against a GM, an IM, and an FM has to count as a great result.  Fellman annotates his best game which was a fighting draw with IM Khmelnitsky.
[pgn][Event "Continental Class Champ"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.06.18"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Fellman, Mike"]
[Black "Khmelnitsky, Igor"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A58"]
[WhiteElo "2201"]
[BlackElo "2527"]
[Annotator "Fellman,Mike"]
[PlyCount "62"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 {I had a strong feeling that Khmelnitsky would
play the Benko, and opening he has used in the past and allows black to play
for a win.} 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 $1 (5. f3 $5 d6 (5... e6 $1 6. e4 exd5 7. e5 Qe7
8. Qe2 Ng8 9. Nc3 Bb7 10. Nh3 c4 $1 11. Nf4 Qc5 $1 $11) 6. e4 g6 7. Nc3 Bg7 8.
a4 {Was once thought to give white a good game. However, 5...e6! more or less
leads to a highly complex yet equal position. (See note above)}) 5... g6 $1 (
5... Bxa6 $6 {Allows white to achieve an ideal set-up. Eg} 6. b3 $1 g6 7. Bb2
Bg7 8. g3 d6 9. Bg2 O-O 10. Nh3 $1 Nbd7 11. O-O Qb6 12. Bc3 $1 Rfb8 13. Nd2 $1
$16) 6. Nc3 Bxa6 7. g3 Bg7 8. Bg2 d6 9. Nf3 Nbd7 $1 {Albert's improvement.} (
9... O-O $6 10. O-O Nbd7 11. Qc2 $1 Nb6 12. Rd1 $1 Bb7 13. e4 {Black won many
early games in the Benko to because white played e2-e4 too soon, allowing
black to stick a knight on d3. Here Black has exerted much energy to "provoke"
e4. However here black is ill-equipped to get to d3, and currently white
controls that square twice, and ...c4 gives up the crucial d4 square. For
example,} c4 $2 14. Be3 Nfd7 15. b4 $1 cxb3 16. axb3 Rxa1 17. Rxa1 Nc5 18. Nd4
$18) 10. Rb1 $1 {This move has basically put the Benko out of business on the
GM level. White's idea is straight forward. He would like to play b3 and a4 to
shore up his queenside. However, currently b3 is not possible because of
tactics along the a1-h8 diagonal.} (10. O-O $6 O-O 11. Re1 $6 Qa5 12. Qc2 Nb6
13. e4 Nfd7 $1 14. Bg5 Rfe8 15. Nd2 Ne5 16. Nb3 Bd3 $1 $11 {Lorinczi-Browne
1970. This game is just one example of black exploiting the weakened d3 square
after an early e2-e4 by white. While the position is objectively equal, its
much more pleasant to play for black.}) 10... Ng4 $5 {My opponent is right to
play creatively. Passive play by black can quickly sink his position. For
example} (10... Qa5 11. Bd2 Nb6 12. b3 Qa3 13. O-O O-O 14. Ne1 $1 Bb7 15. Nc2
Qa6 16. e4 Ne8 17. a4 Nc7 18. Re1 Rae8 {And now 19.Na3!-b5 would have left
black with nothing to show for his pawn deficit in Van Wely-Carlsen 2008.}) 11.
Bd2 Qa5 12. Qc2 O-O 13. O-O Rac8 14. a4 Bb7 15. Rfd1 Qa8 {My opponent
continues to try to force e4, to hopefully plant a knight on d3, but white
doesn't oblige.} 16. h3 $1 Nge5 (16... Ngf6 17. e4 $1 c4 18. Be3 Nc5 19. Nd4
Nd3 $2 20. b3 $1 {Leaves the knight embarrased.} Nb4 21. Qb2 $1 cxb3 22. Qxb3
Na6 23. Qxb7 Qxb7 24. Rxb7 Rxc3 25. Rxe7 $18) 17. Nxe5 Bxe5 18. b3 f5 $5 {
Objectively speaking, this move is weak. However, black must change the tempo
of the game, or else he is simply a pawn down.} 19. f4 $6 {I was worried about
the possibility of ...f4, but its actually not a threat. However, only
computers have the nerves to allow it. Stockfish gives the following} (19. Nb5
f4 20. gxf4 Bxf4 21. Bxf4 Rxf4 22. Qd2 Rff8 23. h4 $1 Nf6 24. Bh3 Bxd5 25. Qe3
$3 $16 Rcd8 $2 26. Nc7 $18) 19... Bg7 20. e4 fxe4 21. Qxe4 e5 $6 {Surely it
was better to give check with the bishop rather than lock it in.} (21... Bd4+
22. Kh2 e5 23. Qd3 $14 {Would have kept black's disadvantage under control.})
22. Nb5 Qb8 23. Rf1 Ba6 24. h4 $6 {White could have maintained a large
advantage with 24. f5. Eg:} (24. f5 Bxb5 25. axb5 gxf5 26. Rxf5 Qxb5 27. Rbf1
$1 $40) 24... Nf6 25. Qc4 Nh5 26. Kh2 exf4 27. Bxf4 Nxf4 28. Rxf4 Rxf4 29. Qxf4
Be5 30. Qg4 Re8 {Though I was still up a pawn, I felt black was close to equal
here. His active bishops give him compensation.} 31. Qd7 Qd8 {Here Khmelnitsky
made what I believe is a generous draw offer. Though objectively the position
is slightly better for white, black still has chances and had a big advantage
on the clock. (I only had about 7 minutes to make time control) I accepted the
offer immediately.} 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
The winners of each section were:

Atul Kanaan 5-0, $1400

Class A

Nathan Lohr, 4 ½ -1/2, $1400

Class B

Richard Rieve 5-0, $1400

Class C

Lazlo Offertaler, 4 ½ - ½, $1200

Class D

Donovan Chong & Brighton Roy, 4 ½ - ½, $600 each

Class E

Jun Zhang, 5-0, $800

Mixed Doubles

Nikki Khmelnitsky & IM Igor Khmelnitsky, 7-3, $400 each

Blitz Tournament

David Bennett, 7-1, $80

            NTD Steve Immitt directed for CCA assisted by Andy Rea and Anand Dommalapati. For more information, visit: