US Scores at Pan American Senior Championships

The 2018 Pan American Veterans [50+] & Senior [65+] Championships were held December 8-13 in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.  For the first time ever all 5 American zones were represented in this 9 round event.  The field consisted of 14 players from 8 different countries including 7 US players, with 4 International Masters, & both a FIDE Master and a Candidate Master.  Julie Anne O’Neill (the only female player) finished in third place for age 65+, while Hanneign Pitre finished in fourth.  Finishing in fourth place for the Veterans was Paul Fields with 5 points, while Nicholas Schoonmaker with 5 points finished out of the money.  It should be noted that this FIDE event didn’t have split cash prized for ties.  The remaining two 65+ finishers were Jorge Molina [second] from Cuba, and Leon Piasetski [first] from Canada.  The playing site was the Divi Carina Bay resort, which will not officially reopen until June next year.  Both Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have yet to fully recover from the 2017 hurricanes.  Still the hotel provided more than adequate service, and the playing site was nice. With such a small field it is no surprise that there were a lot of US versus US pairings.  You even had husband and wife [O’Neill & Schoonmaker] paired in a round.  This event was a FIDE continental championship qualifier (for the World Senior Championship in 2019), which means that the top finisher in each section earned a GM norm [& IM title if they had not already had it], and the second and third place finishers get an IM norm from the event.  The top three finishers in each section automatically qualify for the 2019 World Senior Championships.  Each first place finisher in addition to the cash prize is given room and board for free at the 2019 FIDE Senior Championships.  The full results can be found at under the US Virgin Islands [ISV] listing, “Panamerican Veterans & Seniors.  There were many intense fought games throughout the event, and there was even a cell phone forfeit when one of the player’s cell phone went off during the game.  You can also visit the USVI Chess Federation facebook page.

[Event "Panamerican Veterans & Senior Champs"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2018.12.11"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Thau, Peter"]
[Black "O'Neill, Julie Anne"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A38"]
[WhiteElo "1607"]
[BlackElo "1692"]
[PlyCount "62"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O Nc6 {It is a mistake
to assume that a symetrical position is drawish. Rather it is a question of
when the differences creep in and the effect they have.} 7. d3 Rb8 8. Be3 d6 9.
Qc1 Ng4 {Attacking the Bishop and stopping it from going to h6.} 10. Bd2 Nd4
11. h3 Nxf3+ 12. Bxf3 Ne5 13. Bg2 a6 {Not only does this keep the Knight out
of the b5 square, but it prepares for Black to play b5.} 14. Bh6 b5 15. Bxg7
Kxg7 16. cxb5 axb5 17. Nd5 Bb7 {Black has the slightly better pawns and pieces,
so trading the Bishops is a good idea.} 18. Ne3 Bxg2 19. Kxg2 Qd7 20. Rb1 {
Better is 20 f4 Nc6, 21 f5 with the idea of opening up the file for the Rook.
21...Nd4, 22 fxg6 Nxe2, 23 Qd2 Nd4.} f5 21. Qc3 b4 {Black of course does not
allow the pin to remain on the Knight.} 22. Qc2 Ra8 {Black targets the weak
pawn since the Rook is no longer protecting it.} 23. b3 f4 24. Nc4 {if 24 gxf4
Rxf4 when White must worry about both Rh4 and Raf8.} f3+ $1 {Opening up the
White King.} 25. Kh2 fxe2 26. Qxe2 Nf3+ 27. Kg2 Qb7 28. Qe4 d5 {Winning
material} 29. Qe3 dxc4 30. Qe4 Qxe4 31. dxe4 Nd2 {White resigns rather than
play down the full Rook.} 0-1[/pgn]

[Event "Panamerican Veteran 2018"]
[Site "US Virgin Islands"]
[Date "2018.12.13"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Fields, Paul"]
[Black "Pitre, Hanniegn"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A01"]
[WhiteElo "2242"]
[BlackElo "1919"]
[PlyCount "51"]
[EventDate "2018.12.08"]

1. b3 e5 2. Bb2 Nc6 3. Nf3 d6 4. d4 Bf5 {Simpler and better would be 4...exd4.
Note that 4..e4, 5 Nfd2 d5, 6 c4 would undermine the pawn chain.} 5. Nc3 e4 6.
d5 {The best choice for White, as the only other move is Ng1.} exf3 7. dxc6
bxc6 8. gxf3 {White is planning on queenside castling, so he wants the g file
open.} Nf6 9. e4 Bd7 10. Qd2 Qc8 {Another choice was 10...g6 followed by Bg7
and castling.} 11. O-O-O Be7 {Better was Bh3 to trade the Bishops. It also
would be in keeping with the Qc8 mover earlier.} 12. Rg1 Nh5 13. Be2 {with the
threat of f4.} g6 {This defends against f4, but provides White with other
opportunities.} 14. Nd5 cxd5 15. Bxh8 Qb7 {to castle queenside. If 15...Nf6,
16 Qc3 is good for White. Ideally Black would like White to trade off or lose
the dark square Bishop as there are dark square weaknesses around the White
King. If 15...f6, 16 f4 will get the Knight off, open the g file, and allow
Bg7 to be safely played by White.} 16. f4 O-O-O 17. Bb2 dxe4 18. Qa5 Kb8 {
Black reacts to the threat of Ba5. Better would have been 18...Qb6 allowing
the Queen trade.} 19. Bxh5 {grabbing the pawn. Interesting is 19 Bd4.} gxh5 20.
Qxh5 e3 21. fxe3 Qe4 22. Qe2 c5 23. Qd3 Bc6 24. Rg7 Qf3 25. Rxf7 Bh4 26. Bf6 {
Black has had enough and resigns.} 1-0[/pgn]

[Event "Panamerican Veteran & Senior Championsh"]
[Site "St. Croix"]
[Date "2018.12.11"]
[Round "6.5"]
[White "Fields, Paul"]
[Black "Thau, Peter"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A03"]
[WhiteElo "2242"]
[BlackElo "1607"]
[PlyCount "81"]
[EventDate "2018.12.08"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "ISV"]

1. b3 Nf6 2. Bb2 e6 3. e3 Be7 4. f4 d5 5. Nf3 c5 6. Be2 Nc6 7. O-O b6 8. Qe1
Bb7 {Both sides have a Bishop on the diagonal to attack the castled, or soon
to be castled, King.} 9. a3 Qc7 10. Bb5 a6 11. Bxc6+ Bxc6 {11...Qxc6 does
nothing as 12 Ne5 forces the Queen off of the c6 square and the attacking
diagonal.} 12. Ne5 O-O 13. d3 {Time for White to develop the Queen's Knight,
but White wants to keep the diagonal open.} Rac8 14. Nd2 Nd7 15. Qg3 f6 {
Black either has to play this or g6 to deal with the potential threat at g7.}
16. Nxc6 Qxc6 17. e4 b5 18. c4 d4 {Black closes off the diagonal.} 19. Rfb1 Qc7
20. Nf3 Nb6 {20...e5 may have been better to solidify the pawn at d4.} 21. Ne1
Rb8 22. Bc1 Rb7 23. Qf2 Bd6 24. g3 {This gives White the opportunity to play
Bd2 and then Ba5.} Rfb8 25. Qc2 Qe7 26. Bd2 Nd7 27. Rb2 Ra7 28. Rab1 Nf8 29. b4
{Breaking open the queenside along the b file where White has better control.}
cxb4 30. axb4 {Now White will get a passed pawn.} bxc4 31. dxc4 e5 32. c5 Bc7
33. f5 $1 {White closes in the Bishop. Now there is the opportunity for
control of both wings. The g and h pawns can be pushed by White.} Qf7 34. Qd3
Nd7 35. Nc2 a5 36. c6 Nf8 37. b5 {Connected passed pawns could be a big
problem for Black.} Bb6 38. Ra1 a4 39. Rba2 Qc7 40. Na3 {The threat of Nc4
will cause some problems for Black.} Bc5 $2 41. Qc4+ {Dropping the Bishop, so
Black resigns.} 1-0[/pgn]
Finishing first and second in the Veterans were IM Jefferson Pelikian [1 more Black] and IM Bernardo Mailhe Roselli both with 7.5 points out of 9.  Here is the win by Roselli over myself as I blew the endgame.

[Event "Panamerican Veteran & Senior Championsh"]
[Site "St. Croix"]
[Date "2018.12.12"]
[Round "8.1"]
[White "Roselli Mailhe, Bernardo"]
[Black "Cohen, Lawrence"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E90"]
[WhiteElo "2430"]
[BlackElo "1821"]
[PlyCount "115"]
[EventDate "2018.12.08"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "ISV"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 {A basic Kings Indian defense,
except I am still learning to play it.} Bg4 6. Be2 c6 7. O-O Nbd7 {This
commits me to taking on f3.} 8. h3 Bxf3 9. Bxf3 Qc7 {Planning for the e5 push.}
10. Be3 O-O 11. Qd2 Rad8 12. g3 {Planning on Bg2 and then an eventual f4.} e5
13. Bg2 Nb6 {Forcing White to choose between either b3 or removing the Queen
from behind the dark square Bishop in order to protect c4.} 14. b3 Nfd7 15.
Rad1 Nc8 {I could have played 15...exd4, 16 Bxd4 Bxd4, 17 Qxd4 Nc8.} 16. Bh6
exd4 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 {17....dxc3, 18 Bxc3 would leave White with strong control
of the dark squares.} 18. Qxd4+ f6 19. Kh2 {White appears to be getting the
King out of the way of an attack on the kingside, without the possibility of a
Queen trade. 19 f4 Qb6 would cause that trade to happen.} Nc5 20. f4 Ne6 {
The point of moving the Knight to c5 last move.} 21. Qe3 Qb6 22. Qxb6 Nxb6 {
I was surprised and happy with the Queen trade.} 23. Rf2 Kf7 24. Rfd2 Ke7 25.
h4 {Obviously planning on Bh3. A better plan may have been to open the
diagonal for the Bishop and/or use the pawn majority on the kingside.} a5 {
Planning on Nc5, but I did not want White to be able to kick the Knight.} 26.
Bh3 Nc5 27. Bf1 Rfe8 28. Kg2 Nc8 {This covers the d6 pawn, and frees up the
Rooks.} 29. Kf3 f5 30. g4 fxe4+ {30...fxg4, 31 Kxg4 was not appealing to me.}
31. Nxe4 Nxe4 32. Kxe4 Kd7+ 33. Kf3 Kc7 34. g5 {Again looking for Bh3
activation. I think g5 is premature as it fixes the pawn structure, but not in
an extemely favorable way for White. Maybe 34 Bd3 followwed by f5 would have
worked better.} Ne7 35. Bh3 Rf8 36. Re1 Nf5 37. Bxf5 Rxf5 38. Re7+ Rd7 39.
Rxd7+ Kxd7 40. h5 b5 {40...d5 could be ignored by White in the current
position.} 41. hxg6 hxg6 42. cxb5 Rxb5 $1 {42...cxb5 looks a little more
natural, but then I am left with the isolated passed pawn.} 43. Rh2 Ke7 44. Kg4
Rd5 45. Rh7+ Kf8 46. Rd7 Rd3 $6 {46. ..Rd2 is more natural, and 46...Rd1 may
be best. The idea is 46...Rd1, 47 Rc7 Rc1, 48 f5 Rg1ch} 47. Rc7 c5 {Having
messed up on the previous move I go with my only other choice.} 48. Ra7 d5 49.
Rxa5 c4 50. bxc4 dxc4 51. Rc5 c3 52. Rc4 Rd2 53. f5 c2 $4 {Planning on the
shot Rd4ch, except of course White first plays Rc8ch. Better was 53...gxf5ch,
54 Kxf5 Rxa2, 55 Rxc3 with drawing chances.} 54. Rc8+ Kf7 55. Rc7+ Kf8 56. f6
c1=Q 57. Rxc1 Rxa2 58. Rc8+ {And next the g pawn will fall, so I resigned.} 1-0[/pgn]

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