IM Javakhadze wins Southwest Class Championship

The 11th Annual Southwest Class Championship was held at the Dallas Fort Worth Marriott from February 13-17. The event drew 399 players across seven sections. This year’s event was the second largest ever, trailing last year’s attendance that drew 417. The top section was by far the largest section at 88 players, drawing 9 GMs, 16 IMs, 13 FMs, 1 WGM and 1 WIM.  All told, there were 59 players above 2200 FIDE! The tournament was truly international with players from 18 different federations. The 21 foreign players would have been enough for a “Superswiss,” but two foreigners did not play all nine rounds. FM Ian Zhao earned an IM norm with a round to spare! There were several other players on course for a norm, but they could not score the needed points in the last round and fell just short. The tournament winner, IM Zurab Javakhadze, finished at 7-2, which is the typical score required to win the event. This year was a bit different:
  • Usually there is a tie for first – this year 7-2 was good for clear 1st.
  • Normally an IM that ties for first makes a GM norm – this year that was not the case for Javakhadze.
  • Frequently the winner is undefeated and the path is 5 wins and 4 draws – this year Javakhadze finished with 6 wins, 2 draws, and 1 loss.
  • Typically the winner faces many GMs – this year IMs were scoring very well and Javakhadze only played one GM.
The master section starts earlier than all other sections because of the 9 rounds needed to make norms possible – all other sections are 7 rounds, which enables the event to fit into the holiday weekend. With the master section starting on Thursday evening and having the entire ballroom to themselves the playing conditions were optimal. In round one, some of the GMs were playing FMs, but there were no upsets on the top boards and only one upset overall. There were however numerous draws even some on the top boards. Because of the draws and half point byes, round two pairings were much more competitive with numerous surprises. On board one FM Zhao drew with top seeded GM Kamil Dragun to start his march toward the IM norm. GM Andrey Gorovets surrendered a draw to Eric Li on board three. There were several significant upsets as IM Arthur Gao defeated GM Carlos Hevia Alejano or board 5 and eventual tournament winner IM Javakhadze lost to FM Jacob Furfine on board seven. In all nine players got to 2-0: GMs Joshua Ruiz and David Berczes; IMs Brandon Jacobson, Annie Wang, Michael Lee, Yannick Kambrath, Arthur Guo, and Bryce Tiglon, and FM Jacob Furfine. The fighting chess continued in round three as three of the four boards between perfect scores were decisive. Those advancing to 3-0 were IM Jacobson defeating IM Tiglon; GM Berczes defeating IM Kambrath and, in another upset, as FM Furfine defeated IM Wang. IM Javakhadze got back on track with a win over FM Gus Huston that featured a nice mate to end the game.

[Event "Southwest Class Ch"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2020.02.14"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Javakhadze, Zurab"]
[Black "Huston, Gus"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E11"]
[WhiteElo "2439"]
[BlackElo "2131"]
[Annotator "Javakhadze"]
[PlyCount "59"]
[EventDate "2020.??.??"]

1. c4 Nf6 2. d4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Nbd2 O-O 5. a3 Bxd2+ 6. Qxd2 d6 7. b4 Qe7 8.
Bb2 Nbd7 9. e3 e5 10. dxe5 dxe5 11. Be2 e4 12. Nd4 Ne5 13. Qc3 Rd8 14. O-O Bg4
$6 15. Bxg4 Nexg4 16. h3 Qe5 (16... Ne5 $4 17. Nf5 $18) (16... Nh6 17. Rfd1 $14
) 17. hxg4 (17. f4 exf3 (17... Qh5 18. Rfd1) 18. hxg4 Nxg4 19. Nxf3) 17... Nxg4
18. Rfd1 (18. g3 Qh5 19. Nf3 f6 20. Nh4 g5 21. f3 exf3 22. Nxf3 (22. Rxf3 gxh4
23. Rxf6 Nxf6 24. Qxf6 Qg6 25. Qh8+ Kf7 26. Rf1+ Ke7 27. Qe5+ Kd7) 22... Qh3
23. Qc2 Qxg3+ 24. Qg2 Qxg2+ 25. Kxg2 Nxe3+) 18... Qh2+ 19. Kf1 Qh1+ 20. Ke2
Qxg2 21. Qe1 $1 Ne5 22. Qg1 Qxg1 23. Rxg1 Nxc4 24. Rxg7+ $1 (24. Bc3 $16) 24...
Kxg7 25. Ne6+ Kh6 26. Rh1+ Kg6 27. Rg1+ Kh6 (27... Kf5 28. Ng7#) 28. Bg7+ Kh5
29. Nf4+ Kh4 30. Bf6# 1-0

Round four saw the number of perfect scores dwindle to one as IM Jacobson defeated FM Furfine on board one while GM Berczes was paired down to GM Macieja on board two and Macieja won. This left IM Jacobson in clear first place at 4-0 as the tournament was approaching the halfway point. The last game to finish in round five was the top board where GM Macieja defeated IM Jacobson in a very long ending where Macieja ground out a win in a Q + P vs Q ending. Macieja thus got to 4 ½ out of 5 to hold clear first place after 5 rounds. Macieja was being chased by 6 players at 4-1 and they were all IMs: Brandon Jacobson, Irakli Beradze, Kassa Korley, Aaron Grabinsky, Zurab Javakhadze, and Brian Escalante. FM Zhao continued to play strong chess with a win over WGM Jennifer Yu.

[Event "Southwest Class Ch"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2020.02.15"]
[Round "5.15"]
[White "Zhao, Ian"]
[Black "Yu, Jennifer"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2354"]
[BlackElo "2295"]
[PlyCount "99"]
[EventDate "2020.??.??"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. c3 h6 7. Nbd2 O-O 8. h3
a5 9. Re1 Be6 10. Bb5 Qb8 11. Nf1 Qa7 12. Be3 Bxe3 13. Nxe3 Ne7 14. a4 Rad8 15.
Bc4 Bxc4 16. Nxc4 Rfe8 17. Qc2 Nc6 18. Rad1 d5 19. exd5 Rxd5 20. Rd2 Qc5 21.
Rde2 Re6 22. Ncxe5 Nxe5 23. Rxe5 Rdxe5 24. Rxe5 Rxe5 25. d4 Qd5 26. Nxe5 Qa2
27. Kh2 Nd5 28. c4 Nb6 29. Qf5 f6 30. c5 fxe5 31. cxb6 cxb6 32. Qc8+ Kh7 33.
Qc2+ Kg8 34. dxe5 Qd5 35. Qe2 Qb3 36. Qb5 Qf7 37. Qxb6 Qf4+ 38. g3 Qxe5 39.
Qxb7 Qd4 40. Qc8+ Kf7 41. Qf5+ Ke7 42. b3 Qb2 43. Kg2 Qxb3 44. Qxa5 Qb7+ 45.
Kh2 Kd6 46. Qb5 Qxb5 47. axb5 Kc5 48. Kg2 Kxb5 49. Kf3 Kc4 50. Ke4 1-0

Perhaps because of the long ending that they played in round 5, both Macieja and Jacobson lost in round six on boards one and two. Maciej lost to IM Javakhadze while Jacobson lost to IM Grabinsky. This produced a new set of leaders as IMs Javakhadze and Grabinsky were now leading the field at 5-1. Five players were half a point back at 4 ½ - 1 ½: GM Macieja and IMs Beradze, Korley, Escalante, and Tiglon. Javakhadze and Grabinsky played to a draw in round seven to continue to lead the event. Going into the last day, Javakhadze and Grabinsky would be leading with 5 ½ - 1 ½. There was a huge crowd though a half point back: GMs Macieja & Berczes; IMs Brandon Jacobson, Irakli Beradze, Brian Escalante, Kassa Korley, Annie Wang, Bryce Tiglon & Christopher Yoo; FM Ian Zhao and NM Rubens Cezila.  FM Zhao moved closer to the IM norm with a win over GM Bjarani.

[Event "Southwest Class Ch"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2020.02.16"]
[Round "7.10"]
[White "Zhao, Ian"]
[Black "Bajarani, Ulvi"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C03"]
[WhiteElo "2354"]
[BlackElo "2464"]
[PlyCount "121"]
[EventDate "2020.??.??"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Be7 4. e5 c5 5. c3 Nc6 6. Bd3 Nh6 7. Ne2 cxd4 8. cxd4
Nf5 9. Nf3 Qb6 10. O-O Bd7 11. Kh1 Nb4 12. Bb1 Bb5 13. Re1 Nh4 14. Nxh4 Bxh4
15. Be3 Bxe2 16. Qxe2 g6 17. a3 Nc6 18. Bd3 Be7 19. b4 a6 20. Qb2 Kd7 21. Rac1
Rhc8 22. Rc2 Na7 23. Rec1 Rxc2 24. Bxc2 Rc8 25. g3 Kd8 26. Kg2 Nc6 27. Rb1 Ke8
28. Bd3 Na7 29. a4 Nc6 30. b5 Nb4 31. bxa6 bxa6 32. Bd2 a5 33. Bb5+ Kd8 34. Rc1
Rxc1 35. Qxc1 Qc7 36. Qxc7+ Kxc7 37. Be8 f5 38. Bf7 Kd7 39. Bg8 h6 40. Bxh6 g5
41. g4 fxg4 42. Kg3 Nc6 43. Kxg4 Nxd4 44. Bxg5 Bxg5 45. Kxg5 Ke7 46. Bh7 Nb3
47. Kf4 Nc5 48. Bc2 d4 49. h4 Kf7 50. f3 Kg7 51. Kg5 Kf7 52. h5 Nd7 53. f4 Nc5
54. Bg6+ Kg8 55. Kf6 d3 56. h6 d2 57. Bc2 Nd3 58. Kxe6 Nxf4+ 59. Kd7 Kf7 60. h7
Kg7 61. e6 1-0

The leaders separated in round 8 as IM Javakadze defeated IM Jacobson on board 2, while on board 1, IM Grabinsky would only draw with GM Macieja. This put IM Javakhadze in clear first going into the last round. There were numerous draws though so the number of players half a point back dwindled to three: IMs Beradze, Grabinsky, and Escalante.

[Event "Southwest Class Ch"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2020.02.17"]
[Round "8.2"]
[White "Jacobson, Brandon"]
[Black "Javakhadze, Zurab"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E11"]
[WhiteElo "2502"]
[BlackElo "2439"]
[Annotator "Javakhadze"]
[PlyCount "68"]
[EventDate "2020.??.??"]

{At this point in the tournament, I was sharing the lead with 5,5 points out
of 7 games. My opponent had 5 points. So, going into this game my strategy was
to play as solid as possible and wait for white to gamble.} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6
3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bxd2+ {Sideline with little unusual set up for
Catalan positions. Black intends on simplifying the game by trading dark
squared bishops, putting Queen on e7 and Rook on d8.} 6. Qxd2 O-O 7. Bg2 Qe7 8.
O-O Rd8 9. Qf4 $6 {First innacuracy by white. Seemingly White stops b8 knight
from developing comfortably, however, Queen on f4 becomes the target.} ({
Instead, bringing rook on c-file and protecting c4 pawn is more common way to
go. White gets symbolic advantage but black's position is very solid.} 9. Rc1
c6 10. Qc2 b6 11. cxd5 Nxd5 12. e4 Nb4 13. Qc3 Bb7 14. a3 N4a6 15. b4 {0-1 (40)
Swiercz,D (2609)-Short,N (2707) Potsdam 2012}) 9... dxc4 10. Ne5 (10. Rc1 Nc6
11. Rxc4 $2 e5 $1 12. dxe5 (12. Nxe5 Nxe5 13. dxe5 Rd1+ 14. Bf1 Nd5 15. Qh4
Qxh4 16. Rxh4 Bf5 17. e4 g5 $19) 12... Rd1+ 13. Bf1 Nd5 14. Qh4 Qxh4 15. Rxh4
Ndb4 $19) 10... Nd5 11. Qc1 b5 12. b3 c5 $11 {While white is busy getting the
pawn back, black manages to trade of queenside pawns. Typical idea to
neutrilize white's activity. Black has equalised.} 13. bxc4 bxc4 14. Qa3 Ba6 $6
(14... Bb7 $142 15. Rc1 (15. Qxc5 Qxc5 16. dxc5 Nd7) 15... Nb4 16. dxc5 Bxg2
17. Qxb4 Bd5 18. Nd2 Na6 19. Qa3 Nxc5 20. Ndxc4 Rac8 $11) 15. Rc1 Qc7 16. Qxc5
Qxc5 17. dxc5 Nd7 18. Nxd7 (18. Nc6 $1 {Would be the best chance for white in
the game. Black needs to be careful in order to keep drawing chances.} Re8 19.
Nc3 Rac8 (19... Nxc3 20. Rxc3 Nxc5 21. Ne7+ Kf8 22. Bxa8 Rxa8 23. Nc6 $14) (
19... Nxc5 20. Nxd5 exd5 21. Bxd5 Rxe2 22. Nd4 Rd8 23. Nxe2 Rxd5 24. Rd1 Nd3
25. Nf4 Rd7 26. Nxd3 cxd3 27. f4 $16) 20. Nxd5 exd5 21. Nb4 $1 Bb7 22. c6 Bxc6
23. Nxc6 Rxc6 24. Bxd5 Rc5 25. Bxc4 Rec8 26. Rd1 Rxc4 27. Rxd7 Ra4 28. Rb1 Rxa2
29. Rbb7 Rf8 30. e3 h5 31. Rxa7 Rxa7 32. Rxa7 g6 {Leading to theoretically
drawn endgame, but not always an easy defensive task in practical terms.})
18... Rxd7 19. Nc3 Rad8 (19... Rc8 $2 20. Nxd5 exd5 21. Bh3 $16) 20. Bf3 Kf8
21. Rab1 Rc7 22. Rd1 {Here goes the gambling part I was talking about. With
about 10 minutes on the clock for both of us, I intuitively felt that two
passed pawns on the queenside had to give black dangerous compensation for the
exchange.} Rxc5 23. e4 Nxc3 24. Rxd8+ Ke7 25. Rbb8 Nxa2 26. Bd1 c3 27. Re8+ (
27. Bc2 Nb4 $1 28. Re8+ Kd7 29. Ba4+ Nc6 $17) 27... Kf6 (27... Kd6 $142 28. Bc2
(28. Rf8 c2 (28... Ke7 29. Rfe8+ Kd6 30. Rf8) 29. Bxc2 Rxc2 30. Rxf7 Ke5 31.
Rxg7 (31. Rxa7 Bd3 32. f3 Kd4 33. Ra3 Nc3) 31... Bd3 32. Rf8 Nc3 33. Rxa7 Ne2+
34. Kg2 Bxe4+ 35. Kf1 Nd4 $15) 28... Rc4 $1 {With the idea of Nb4 coming up
next.}) 28. Bc2 Nc1 $1 29. Kg2 $2 $138 {White fails to notice the only
defensive idea.} (29. f4 $8 {If black tries to get rid of the bishops with} Bd3
$2 {White has series of treaky intermezzos} (29... Kg6 $11 30. e5+ Bd3 31. Rec8
Rd5 32. Bxd3+ Rxd3 33. Kf2 Na2 34. Ke1 Re3+ 35. Kd1 Rd3+ 36. Kc2 Rd2+ 37. Kb1
Rxh2 38. Rb7 h5 39. Rxa7 Rb2+ 40. Ka1 Rg2 41. Kb1 Rb2+ 42. Ka1 Rg2) 30. Rbc8 $1
Rxc8 31. e5+ $1 {this is the point. Black King has to get to h7-b1 diagonal,
after which black bishop will be captured with check.} Kf5 32. Bxd3+ Nxd3 33.
Rxc8 $16 {and suddenly black pawns are stuck.}) 29... Bd3 30. Rb1 Bxc2 31. Rxc1
Bxe4+ 32. f3 Bg6 33. Kf2 c2 34. Ke2 a5 $19 {Black got 3 pawns for the exchange
which is more than enough compensation, especially considering that one piece
constantly has to be tied to c2 pawn. Game was won after the second time
control without too many complications.} 0-1

Needing only a draw to secure a share of first Javakhadze played a quick draw with Escalante. Either Grabinsky or Beradze could have caught Javakhadze, but they drew their game on board two. This left several other players an opportunity to catch up and grab shares of second place. Two players were able to do so as GM Kamil Dragun defeated IM Cameron Wheeler on board 3 and IM Kassa Korley defeated GM Macieja on board 4. FM Zhao had already secured an IM norm and could have tied for second with a win, but he lost to GM Sergei Matsenko. The section winners were: Expert Nestor Sosa, Kenneth Su, Saumik Narayanan, David Gaston, Rohun Taku, Nitin Chikkodi, 5-2 $667.67 Class A Minh Tranh & Moses Nduonyi, 6-1, $1500 Class B Vittal Ranganath, 6 ½ - ½ , $2000 Class C Kayode Adeniyi & Ronald Sanders, 6-1, $1200 Class D Brian Zhou & Mahith Namburi, 6-1, $600 Class E Tejesh Sathyan, Aasshish Anantharaman, Pashin Ponnanna, Shivam Sood, Nguyen Tram, 5 ½ - ½ , $360 Mixed Doubles Rachael Li & Andrew Tang and Tanvi Reddy & Vittal Ranganath, 10-4, $400 to each player Blitz FM Jacob Furfine, 7-1, $125 International Arbiter & NTD David Hater directed for Continental Chess assisted by Steve Immitt, Louis Reed, Anthony Guerra & Wendy Reed. Full tournament details can be found at Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at