GM Chandra's Experience at the Clark Street Capital Invitational

The Clark Street Capital Grandmaster Invitational was a 20-player tournament held from April 12-16 and sponsored by chess aficionado Jon Winick of Clark Street Capital. The tournament was organized by the Chicago Chess Center with the aim of providing the local Chicago players with an opportunity to compete for and, potentially, earn norms. Despite not falling under the norm-seeker category, I was still attracted to the tournament because of its format. Even though it was a “Swiss,” the small field of players made the tournament akin to a Round-Robin, and almost certainly ensured I would face most of the top players in the event. The list of players was as follows:

GM Ilya Smirin (Israel, 2671)

IM Sergei Matsenko (Russia, 2533)

GM Vladimir Georgiev (Macedonia, 2530)

GM Kannappan Priyadharshan (India, 2530)

IM Pavlo Vorontsov (Ukraine, 2499)

GM Akshat Chandra (USA, 2489)

GM Alexander Fishbein (USA, 2481)

GM Nikola Mitkov (Macedonia, 2444)

FM Zhaozhi Li (USA, 2359)

FM Aaron Grabinsky (USA, 2345)

FM Joshua Colas (USA, 2323)

Robert M. Perez (USA, 2310)

IM Angelo Young (Philippines, 2294)

FM David Peng (USA, 2270)

Gopal Menon (USA, 2216)

CM Jacob Furfine (USA, 2163)

FM Albert Chow (USA, 2152)

WFM Rachel Ulrich (USA, 2081)

Matthew Stevens (USA, 2049)

Aakaash Meduri (USA, 2042)

 When I arrived in Chicago, driving around LaSalle and Randolph Avenues, I experienced a peculiar sense of déjà vu, as the buildings and scenery felt vaguely familiar to me even though I had not been to this section of Chicago before. Then suddenly, it occurred to me that this was where some scenes from “The Dark Knight” had been filmed! This was Batman’s home.

The first 5 rounds of the tournament were played on the 17th floor of Avant, a financial services company overlooking the Chicago Riverwalk, in an impressive 2-floor high hall flanked by conference rooms. The organizer, Bill Brock of Chicago Chess Center, set the ball rolling in his jovial and relaxed manner, inviting each of the 20 players to introduce themselves. Thereafter, the players were seated in the conference rooms on either side of the hall, with the top six boards having their own private room. The glass walls allowed the Arbiters and spectators to monitor the proceedings. The tournament got off to a rough start for me as I lost to fellow youngster Jacob Furfine. His play was quite creative and impressive considering his rating, and, after I missed my chance to seize the advantage, he convincingly converted his initiative. Clearly, Jacob is an underrated player, and, in hindsight, I wish he had attained his real level before my game, so I wouldn’t have lost as many rating points! The other major upset of the 1st round was Ukranian IM Pavlo Vorontsov losing to Gopal Menon, who played a strong game with the Black pieces to win handily.
[pgn][Event "Clark Street Capital GM"]
[Site "Chicago USA"]
[Date "2017.04.12"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Furfine, Jacob"]
[Black "Chandra, Akshat"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D02"]
[WhiteElo "2163"]
[BlackElo "2489"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r1bqnrk1/ppb1n2p/4ppp1/3pN3/3P1P2/2PB1N2/PP1Q1BPP/R4RK1 w - - 0 16"]
[PlyCount "33"]
[EventDate "2017.04.12"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2017.04.24"]16. Bh4 Ng7 $2 (16... Nf5 $1 {and White has no satisfactory way to deal with
the threat of ...Nxh4 and fxe5. His best try is to probably just retreat the
Bishop back to e1} 17. Be1 {but Black is clearly better then after} Ned6) 17.
g4 $1 {I had seen this move in a different variation, but for some reason I
just overlooked it in this particular position. Now my Knight on g7 is quite a
sickly steed. Of course the position is not lost now, but it's just really
unpleasant to play. Full credit to my opponent, who energetically took
advantage of my mistake.} Qe8 18. a4 a6 19. Bc2 Kh8 20. Nd3 b6 21. Rae1 Bd7 22.
b3 Rc8 23. Kh1 Bb8 24. Rg1 Qd8 25. f5 exf5 26. g5 Ng8 27. gxf6 Rxf6 28. Nde5
Be8 29. Rg3 Qc7 30. Bxf6 Nxf6 31. Qh6 Qxc3 32. Rxg6 $1 {and White won a few
moves later.} 1-0[/pgn]
[pgn][Event "Clark Street Capital GM"]
[Site "Chicago USA"]
[Date "2017.04.12"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Vorontsov, P."]
[Black "Menon, Gopal S"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A36"]
[WhiteElo "2499"]
[BlackElo "2216"]
[PlyCount "74"]
[EventDate "2017.04.12"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2017.04.24"]1. c4 c5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. Rb1 d6 6. a3 e6 7. b4 Nge7 8. Nf3
O-O 9. O-O b6 10. Qa4 Bb7 11. Bb2 Qd7 12. d3 Rad8 13. Nb5 e5 14. Nc3 Ba8 15.
Nd2 f5 16. Rfe1 g5 17. Nd5 Ng6 18. e3 g4 19. Bc3 h5 20. Qc2 h4 21. a4 cxb4 22.
Bxb4 Kh8 23. Bc3 Qf7 24. Qa2 f4 25. exf4 exf4 26. Bxg7+ Qxg7 27. Qb2 Nce5 28.
Be4 Bxd5 29. cxd5 Rf6 30. d4 fxg3 31. fxg3 Nf3+ 32. Bxf3 gxf3 33. Ne4 Nf4 34.
Nxf6 hxg3 35. hxg3 Qxg3+ 36. Kh1 f2 37. Qxf2 Qxf2 0-1[/pgn]
Fortunately, I didn’t let the 1st round loss snowball and was able to immediately recuperate by winning my next 3 games. The 4th round win against GM Georgiev was quite interesting.
[pgn][Event "Clark Street Capital GM"]
[Site "Chicago USA"]
[Date "2017.04.14"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Chandra, Akshat"]
[Black "Georgiev, Vl"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C41"]
[WhiteElo "2489"]
[BlackElo "2530"]
[PlyCount "95"]
[EventDate "2017.04.12"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2017.04.24"]1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Nf3 Nbd7 5. Bc4 Be7 6. a4 O-O 7. O-O a5 8. Re1
b6 9. Ne2 Bb7 10. Ng3 Nxe4 11. Rxe4 d5 12. Rg4 f5 13. Nxf5 Rxf5 14. Ba2 h5 15.
Re4 Kh8 16. Nxe5 Bd6 17. Rf4 Rxf4 18. Qxh5+ Kg8 19. Bxf4 Qe8 20. Qg5 Bxe5 21.
Bxe5 Nxe5 22. dxe5 c5 23. c3 Qd8 24. Qg6 c4 25. Re1 Qe8 26. Qxb6 Bc6 27. Qd4
Rb8 28. Bb1 Rxb2 29. Qh4 Rxb1 30. Rxb1 Qxe5 31. Qg3 Qe4 32. Rb8+ Kh7 33. Qh3+
Kg6 34. Qe3 Bd7 35. h4 Qxe3 36. fxe3 Kf5 37. Kf2 Bxa4 38. Ra8 Bc2 39. Rxa5 Be4
40. Ra7 g6 41. Rf7+ Kg4 42. Rf4+ Kh5 43. Rxe4 dxe4 44. Kg3 g5 45. hxg5 Kxg5 46.
Kh3 Kh5 47. g4+ Kg6 48. Kh4 1-0[/pgn]
Consequently, I found myself behind the Black pieces on Board 1 against the renowned top seed, GM Ilya Smirin. At this stage, Ilya was 4/4 and seemed to be running away with the tournament. The game went wrong for me from the start as Ilya played a move which I forgot to analyze in my preparation. I didn’t adjust to the circumstances very well and failed to offer stiff resistance, losing quite quickly. It was frustrating to have wasted an opportunity against a player of Ilya’s caliber.
[pgn][Event "Clark Street Capital GM"]
[Site "Chicago USA"]
[Date "2017.04.14"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Smirin, I."]
[Black "Chandra, Akshat"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C07"]
[WhiteElo "2671"]
[BlackElo "2489"]
[PlyCount "45"]
[EventDate "2017.04.12"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2017.04.24"]1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. Ngf3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nc6 6. Bb5 Bd7 7. Nxc6 Bxc6 8.
Bxc6+ bxc6 9. c4 Rc8 10. O-O Nf6 11. Qa4 Nxe4 12. Nxe4 dxe4 13. Qxa7 Bd6 14.
Be3 Qc7 15. Qxc7 Rxc7 16. b4 Rb7 17. Rab1 Rxb4 18. Rxb4 Bxb4 19. Rb1 Bd6 20.
Bc5 Bc7 21. Rb7 Kd7 22. Bb6 Rc8 23. c5 1-0[/pgn]
The venue changed for the final 4 rounds, which were played at a nearby location on Randolph Avenue, overlooking the Lake Shore parks and the Monroe Harbor. I was able to close out the home stretch positively, scoring 3 out of 4. My 8th round victory over Pavlo featured an intricate and complex rook endgame, which I encourage the readers to analyze and evaluate!
[pgn][Event "Clark Street Capital GM"]
[Site "Chicago USA"]
[Date "2017.04.16"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Vorontsov, P."]
[Black "Chandra, Akshat"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D05"]
[WhiteElo "2499"]
[BlackElo "2489"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/4k1p1/3r1p1p/p7/4P3/8/P3R1PP/6K1 w - - 0 37"]
[PlyCount "46"]
[EventDate "2017.04.12"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2017.04.24"]37. Rb2 Rd4 38. Rb7+ Kf8 39. Ra7 Ra4 40. Kf2 Rxa2+ 41. Kf3 a4 42. h4 a3 43.
Ra8+ Kf7 44. Ra7+ Kg6 45. g4 Ra1 46. h5+ Kh7 47. Ra8 a2 48. Kg2 g5 49. Ra7+ Kg8
50. Kh2 Kf8 51. Kg2 Ke8 52. Kh2 Kd8 53. Kg2 Kc8 54. Kh2 Kb8 55. Ra3 Kb7 56. Kg2
Kb6 57. Ra8 Kb5 58. Ra7 Kc4 59. Ra4+ Kb3 0-1[/pgn]
Robert Perez vs. GM Ilya Smirin
The last round left a slightly bitter taste, however, as I failed to convert a much better endgame against the solid Macedonian GM Nikola Mitkov. As a result, I ended up tying for 2nd with GM Mitkov and Robert Perez, who somehow swindled Pavlo in the last round, much to the shock and bewilderment of other players, and most likely Robert himself!
[pgn][Event "Clark Street Capital GM"]
[Site "Chicago USA"]
[Date "2017.04.16"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Vorontsov, P."]
[Black "Perez, Rob"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E60"]
[WhiteElo "2499"]
[BlackElo "2310"]
[PlyCount "124"]
[EventDate "2017.04.12"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2017.04.24"]1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. e3 O-O 5. Be2 c5 6. d5 e6 7. Nc3 exd5 8. cxd5
d6 9. O-O Na6 10. Nd2 Nc7 11. e4 Re8 12. a4 b6 13. f3 Nh5 14. Nc4 Bd4+ 15. Be3
Bxe3+ 16. Nxe3 Nf4 17. Bb5 Nxb5 18. axb5 h5 19. Qd2 Qg5 20. Nc4 Bd7 21. g3 Nh3+
22. Kg2 Qf6 23. f4 Qd4 24. Qxd4 cxd4 25. Nxd6 dxc3 26. Nxe8 Rxe8 27. e5 cxb2
28. Rab1 Rc8 29. Rxb2 Bg4 30. Rd2 Kf8 31. d6 Bf5 32. Ra1 g5 33. Rxa7 g4 34. d7
Bxd7 35. Raxd7 Rc1 36. Rd1 Rc5 37. R7d5 Rc2+ 38. R5d2 Rc5 39. Rb2 Rc3 40. Kf1
Rf3+ 41. Kg2 Re3 42. Kf1 Rf3+ 43. Ke1 h4 44. gxh4 Nxf4 45. Kd2 Rh3 46. Rf1
Rxh2+ 47. Kc3 Ne2+ 48. Kd3 Nc1+ 49. Kc3 Ne2+ 50. Kb3 g3 51. Re1 Nd4+ 52. Ka2
Rxb2+ 53. Kxb2 Nf3 54. Re2 Nxh4 55. Re4 g2 56. Rg4 Ke7 57. Kc3 Ke6 58. Rg5 Kd5
59. Kd2 Ke4 60. e6 fxe6 61. Kd1 Ke3 62. Kc2 Nf3 0-1[/pgn]
 
Josh Colas at the 2015 North American Open, where he earned a GM Norm. Photo: Alan Losoff
This allowed Robert to cap off a great tournament for himself by securing his 1st IM norm. Well done! Also, Joshua Colas earned his final IM norm with a scintillating final round victory over GM Georgiev.  Congrats, Josh! He now needs to increase his FIDE rating to 2400, in order to officially become an IM.
[pgn][Event "Clark Street Capital GM"]
[Site "Chicago USA"]
[Date "2017.04.16"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Colas, Joshua"]
[Black "Georgiev, Vl"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E27"]
[WhiteElo "2323"]
[BlackElo "2530"]
[PlyCount "43"]
[EventDate "2017.04.12"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2017.04.24"]1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 d5 7. cxd5 exd5 8.
e3 Bf5 9. Ne2 c5 10. g4 Be6 11. Ng3 Ne8 12. Bd3 Qc8 13. O-O Nd6 14. Ra2 b5 15.
Rg2 a5 16. Qe1 Ra7 17. Nh5 Na6 18. Nf6+ gxf6 19. Qh4 Rd8 20. Qh6 Ne8 21. Bxh7+
Kh8 22. Rg3 1-0[/pgn]
The tournament was deservedly won by Ilya, who scored a convincing 7.5/9 and was the only player to not lose a game. Overall, I had a great experience. Thanks to arbiters Daniel Parmet and Glenn Panner for overseeing a smoothly run tournament, and putting the pairings out on time! Also, much thanks to Bill Brock for organizing the tournament, sending PGN updates of the finished rounds during the tournament, and keeping me entertained with his humorous remarks! And, of course, big thanks once again to Jon for graciously sponsoring the event and putting all the players at ease with his amiable personality. Chess needs more benefactors like him. You rock, Jon!
A blitz game between Jon Winick and Akshat Chandra.
Dmitry Gurevich, Bill Brock, and Alex Fishbein. Photo: Chicago Chess Center
Akshat Chandra with the official guest for the ceremonial first move

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Does the Trump tower in Manhattan, New York still hold chess games like it once did when Mr. Donald Trump was active there as well?

In reply to by Running Star-Jackson (not verified)

Does President Donald Trump engage in Chess?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Do any of the trump family engage in chess?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thanks for the great recap and kind words, Akshat. Daniel Parmet reports that Robert Perez had already clinched his IM norm by round 7!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

[…] The post was first published on US Chess. […]

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

[…] Akshat Chandra is another one of my top picks to win the tournament. He’s a former US Junior Closed Champion (2015). He recently earned his GM title, completing a quest from 1500 to Grandmaster in 5.5 years. And, he’s an accomplished chess journalist (Check out his piece on the Clark Street Capital Invitational from earlier this year). […]

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