Webster’s Road to Success

Webster-A. Photo: Paul Truong
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” –Henry Ford
That quote can be summarized in a single word, and that is Webster! I am going to primarily focus on the laborious efforts of the Webster team on its path to success in Columbus, as a recap of the whole tournament is written by Al Lawrence in another article. When the Webster team started its journey on December 26,2017 to Columbus, we hoped that all the bumps before the event had come to an end, only to find out that there were few more hiccups before we reached our destination. The first bump we faced as a team before the event was final exams until December 22nd, which left most of the players with very limited time to train and, also, to get in the spirit of Christmas! When everyone finished with their exams, then came the next shocker to the team, which was GM Ilya Nyzhnyk falling sick and being diagnosed with pneumonia, which derailed our board order plans. Ilya was so sick that it was highly doubtful if he could make it to Columbus with the team. As lineup changes happened at the last minute, few of the team members had to prepare for additional opponents to make sure they have bullet proofed all their chess weaknesses. There were a few more niggles like delayed buses, bad weather on our way to Columbus, but none of these affected our team spirit as all that the players had in mind was to give their best to this team and to ensure that the title streak of Webster continues for one more year in the Pan-Ams. Once we got down to business on December 27th, the Webster-A team was the top seed with a rating average of 2724.3, and the Webster-B team with a rating average of 2634.3 was ranked #4. The one thing that was constantly said to us by our coach Susan Polgar and manager Paul Truong is that every single team out there is aiming to take us down, so we were asked to be on our toes the whole time to make sure no one upset the apple cart. As the 800 lbs, gorilla teams were beating much weaker oppositions in the early rounds, there were quite a few individual upsets on the lower boards like this. In a spectacular tactical game, the top board of Webster-D, NM Aaron Grabinsky beat GM Denis Kadric of UTD-B.
[pgn][Event "Pan-American Inter-Collegiate Chess"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.12.28"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Aaron Grabinsky"]
[Black "Denis Kadric"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2359"]
[BlackElo "2502"]
[Annotator "Aaron Grabinsky"]
[PlyCount "67"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]1. e4 d6 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 a6 4. Be3 Bg7 5. Qd2 b5 6. Nf3 Bb7 7. a3 Nd7 8. d5
Ngf6 $6 (8... c5 $1 {maybe this is better, as it becomes impossible after my
next move.}) 9. Nd4 $1 {putting the clamp on!} O-O 10. f3 Ne5 11. a4 $6 {
unfortunately, I underestimated black's dynamic potential.} (11. O-O-O {is
better.}) 11... b4 12. Na2 a5 13. Bb5 Qc8 $2 (13... e6 $1 14. dxe6 d5 $1 $15 {
and black's pieces spring to life. My knight on a2 is particularly sad.}) 14.
c3 {now I'm fine.} e6 15. Nc6 $1 Bxc6 16. dxc6 d5 17. Bd4 Nc4 18. Qe2 bxc3 $2 {
after a fairly long think, my opponent errors.} 19. Nxc3 $16 Nh5 {here, and at
subsequent points I continually missed the strong move 0-0-0!} 20. Bxg7 $2 (20.
O-O-O $1 $16) 20... Nf4 21. Qc2 $14 Kxg7 $2 (21... Ne3 22. Qd2 Nexg2+ 23. Kf2
Kxg7 24. Rag1 Qd8 25. exd5 Qh4+ 26. Kf1 $16 {was evidently better, but I'm not
so sure.}) 22. g3 $18 Nh3 23. Bxc4 (23. Qg2 $1 {I saw this, but...} e5 24. exd5
Nd6 25. Bf1 $1 $18 {I missed this fairly simple move. :/} Ng5 26. h4) 23...
dxc4 24. Kf1 $2 $16 {fortunately I'm still better.} (24. O-O-O $1 $18 {so
simple, yet I never considered it!}) 24... e5 25. Kg2 Ng5 26. h4 Ne6 27. Nb5 {
this is still quite good for me though.} Rd8 28. Rad1 Nd4 29. Qxc4 Qa6 $2 {a
blunder! Finally, I was able to capitalize and he never came back.} (29... Rb8
$16 {still looks pretty depressing.}) 30. h5 $1 {unsurprisingly, this is game
over. Black's position is simply horrible.} g5 (30... Nxc6 {if black ignores
me, I calculated this nice line.} 31. hxg6 hxg6 32. Rh7+ $1 Kxh7 33. Qxf7+ Kh6
34. Rh1+ Kg5 35. Rh5+ $1 (35. f4+ {mates too, but I liked Rh5+ more.}) 35...
Kxh5 (35... gxh5 36. Qg7#) 36. Qh7+ Kg5 37. Qh4#) 31. h6+ Kg6 {it's hard to
suggest something better at this point.} (31... Kg8 32. Qc1 $1 f6 33. Qc4+ Kf8
34. Rxd4 Rxd4 (34... exd4 35. Qe6 {needs no comment.}) 35. Qc5+ Kf7 36. Nxd4
$18 {and black doesn't even have Qe2+... :)}) (31... Kh8 32. Qxf7 $18) (31...
Kf8 32. Qc5+ {and Qxe5 next.}) 32. f4 $1 {the end is near!} Qb6 33. fxg5 Nxb5
34. Qe2 $1 {Qf1 was also good enough.} 1-0[/pgn]
The monster matchups began in Round 4 when Webster-A faced UTD-A. Board 1 and 3 were quick draws, which gave an upper hand to Webster-A as we had black pieces on both those boards. It was all left to Jorge Cori and Vasif Durarbayli to bring the winning point of the match, and the Grandmaster from Azerbaijan lead the way in bringing home the match point.
[pgn][Event "Pan-Am Intercollegiate"]
[Site "Columbus USA"]
[Date "2017.12.29"]
[Round "4.1"]
[White "Durarbayli, V."]
[Black "Arribas Lopez, A."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B96"]
[WhiteElo "2622"]
[BlackElo "2483"]
[Annotator "Priyadharshan Kannappan"]
[PlyCount "77"]
[EventDate "2017.12.27"]
[EventType "team"]
[EventRounds "6"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2018.01.01"]
[WhiteTeam "WEBSTER A"]
[BlackTeam "UNIV TEXAS DALLAS A"]1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Qc7 8. Bxf6
gxf6 9. Qd2 Nc6 10. Nb3 Rg8 {New move to the databases, and also Black spent
close to 15 minutes on the board, so I guess he was on out of his preparation
by now.} 11. g3 b5 12. O-O-O (12. a3 $142) 12... Bb7 $6 (12... b4 $142 13. Ne2
e5 $5 {It seems very antipositional to play like this} 14. Kb1 a5 15. Nbc1 a4
$13 {Surprisingly white has no good way to plonk his knight on the d5 square})
13. Bh3 Na5 $6 ({Black misses his last chance to roll the Q-side pawns} 13...
b4 $142 14. Ne2 a5 15. Nbd4 $13) 14. Rhe1 $14 {White has developed all his
pieces and also has a safe king! White is definitely preferable} Nc4 15. Qd3
Be7 16. Nd4 {potential sacrificing ideas on e6} Qa5 17. Kb1 Kf8 18. Nb3 $2 ({
Vasif is generally tactically very alert in his games, but surprisingly he
misses his chance to finish the game} 18. Bxe6 $142 fxe6 19. Nxe6+ Kf7 20. e5
$3 Rg6 (20... Kxe6 21. exd6+ Ne5 22. dxe7 $18) (20... Qb4 21. Qxh7+ $18) 21.
exd6 $18) 18... Qc7 19. Nd4 Bc8 20. Bf1 Nb6 21. Bg2 b4 22. Nce2 Bb7 23. Bh3 Na4
{Pause for a minute, and try to figure out the best move for white} 24. e5 $1 {
Opening up the lines, to create an attack on the exposed black king.} dxe5 25.
fxe5 f5 26. Nf4 Nc5 27. Qd2 $2 (27. Qf1 $142 Rg5 (27... Rc8 28. g4 $1 {the
point of Qf1} fxg4 29. Nfxe6+ $18) 28. g4 Rd8 29. gxf5 exf5 30. Bg2 $14) 27...
Qb6 28. Bg2 $2 ({Vasif again misses his chance to strike at e6} 28. Nfxe6+ $142
Nxe6 (28... fxe6 29. Qh6+ Rg7) 29. Qh6+ Rg7 30. Nxf5 Bg5 31. Qh5 Rg6 32. Nd6
$16) 28... Ne4 $2 29. Bxe4 Bxe4 {Lopez was twice lucky, but Vasif spots the
tactical idea in the third try!} 30. Nfxe6+ $1 fxe6 31. Qh6+ Ke8 32. Qxh7 Rg5
33. Rxe4 fxe4 34. Qh8+ Bf8 35. Rf1 Rf5 36. Nxf5 exf5 37. Qh5+ Ke7 38. Qh7+ Ke8
39. Qxf5 1-0[/pgn]
Webster-B meanwhile got destroyed by UTRGV-A(1-3), as I lost my game to GM Belous and GM Manuel Leon Hoyos lost to GM Carlos Hevia Alejano. At the end of Round 4, three teams had a perfect 4-0, and they were the top three seeds (Webster-A, SLU, UTRGV-A).
Webster-A vs. SLU. Photo: Paul Truong
The most awaited matchup of the tournament happened in Round 5 between Webster-A and SLU, the only teams to have a rating average above 2700.  The match turned out to be an absolute nail-biter! Let’s join as one of the spectators of the game to see what happened between Ray Robson and Yaroslav Zherebukh which was the most defining game of the tournament, as it basically decided who is going to win the tournament.
[pgn][Event "Pan-Am Intercollegiate"]
[Site "Columbus USA"]
[Date "2017.12.29"]
[Round "5.1"]
[White "Robson, R."]
[Black "Zherebukh, Y."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C65"]
[WhiteElo "2645"]
[BlackElo "2636"]
[Annotator "Priyadharshan Kannappan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r4bk1/p1pq1rpp/1pp2p2/2n5/2P1PP1N/3PB3/P1P4P/R3Q1RK b - - 0 21"]
[PlyCount "62"]
[EventDate "2017.12.27"]
[EventType "team"]
[EventRounds "6"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2018.01.01"]
[WhiteTeam "WEBSTER A"]
[BlackTeam "ST LOUIS UNIV"]{[#]} {Let's look at the game from this point, as the opening part is not of
huge importance} 21... Nxd3 $1 {black decides to complicate the matters, as
playing passively would lead to slow death due to better placed white pieces}
22. cxd3 Qxd3 23. Bf2 $1 (23. Rg2 Qxe4 24. Qc3 Rd8 $44) 23... Re8 24. Nf5 Rd7
25. Qe3 $6 ({Engines prefer this move, as they fel that control of the center
is vital for white to have some winning chances} 25. Ng3 $142) 25... Qxc4 $6 (
25... Qxe4+ 26. Qxe4 Rxe4 27. Rad1 Rxd1 28. Nh6+ Kh8 29. Nf7+ $11) 26. Rae1
Qxa2 {Highly unbalanced position, but the biggest issue for black is that his
king is very exposed, and the swarm of pawns in the queenside aren't going
anywhere} 27. Qf3 Kh8 28. Bd4 $1 Qf7 $2 (28... Qe6 $142 29. Ba1 Bc5 30. Rgf1 a5
$44) 29. Ba1 $1 {Long-range pieces are very safe when they are on the back of
the board, and this bishop will prove to be a huge nuisance for black king} g6
$4 30. Ng3 $2 (30. Nh4 $142 Kg8 31. f5 g5 32. e5 $18) 30... Bc5 31. f5 Bd4 $4 (
31... Bxg1 $142 {Black had to grab the rook, and wait for a chance to give
back the exchange on a later moment, when the attack becomes too strong to
defend. Instead black tries to diffuse the attack, by exchanging Ba1} 32. Rxg1
Rd6 33. fxg6 hxg6 34. Qg4 $14) 32. Bxd4 Rxd4 33. fxg6 hxg6 {Pause for a moment,
and find the beautiful move played by Ray Robson} 34. Nf5 $3 {Black is now
busted} gxf5 35. Qe3 Rd7 36. Rd1 {!!! The additional exclamation is for the
aesthetics behind this fine move} (36. Qh6+ Qh7 37. Qxf6+ Rg7 38. Re3 Reg8 39.
Rd3 $18) 36... Rg8 37. Qh6+ Qh7 38. Qxf6+ Rdg7 39. Rd7 fxe4 40. Rgxg7 Rxg7 41.
Rd8+ Qg8 42. Qh4+ Rh7 43. Rxg8+ Kxg8 44. Qd8+ {We have reached the part that
GM Yasser Seirwan likes the most on a chess board "Eating pawns"} Kf7 45. Qxc7+
Kg6 46. Qxc6+ Kf5 47. Kg2 Re7 48. Kf2 e3+ 49. Ke2 Re6 50. Qd5+ Kf6 51. h4 a5
52. h5 1-0[/pgn]
The mood in the Webster team room had lightened a bit after the crucial victory, as Webster-A was the outright leader, and the B-team was up there in the standings too with a score of 4/5. As the players were enjoying the moment of success, our coach gave us some wise words “It’s not yet over, you have one more game tomorrow, and it is important that you go and give your best one final time for 2017.” Webster-A could not make it 6-0, as we conceded a draw to UTD-B in the final round, but we had achieved our mission of being the champion for the 6th year in a row! I personally had a good event playing for the Webster-B, picking up few rating points, and also got to play a beautiful game against IM Zurab Javakhadze of UTD-C in my last ever Pan-American Collegiate game.
[pgn][Event "Pan-American Collegiate Championship"]
[Site "Columbus"]
[Date "2017.12.30"]
[Round "6.4"]
[White "Priyadharshan, K."]
[Black "Javakhadze, Zurab"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C47"]
[WhiteElo "2510"]
[BlackElo "2450"]
[Annotator "Priyadharshan Kannappan"]
[PlyCount "57"]
[EventDate "2017.12.27"]
[EventType "team-swiss"]
[EventRounds "6"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[WhiteTeam "Webster- B"]
[BlackTeam "UTD- C"]1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. Nxd4 {I decided to play solid and
look for chances later in the game} Bb4 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Bd3 d5 8. exd5 cxd5 9.
O-O O-O 10. h3 c6 11. Qf3 {Computer would scream out loudly as 0.00 in these
positions, but this position is not such a dry equality} Re8 12. Bf4 Bf8 {new
move in database} (12... Nd7 $5 13. Rfe1 Nc5 14. Bc7 Qd7 15. Bf5 Ne6 16. Qg3
Bxc3 17. Bxe6 Rxe6 18. Rxe6 Bxb2 19. Be5 fxe6 20. Bxb2 Ba6 21. Re1 Re8 22. Re3
$14) 13. Rad1 Nd7 $6 {I believe that my opponent missed my next move} (13...
Qa5 14. a3 (14. Bg5 Ne4 15. Bxe4 dxe4 16. Nxe4 Rxe4 17. Qxe4 Qxg5 18. Qxc6 Rb8
19. Qc7 Ra8 (19... Bxh3 20. Qh2 Bxg2 21. Qxg2 Qc5 22. Rfe1 Rxb2 23. Re8 Rxc2
$44) 20. Qc6 Rb8 21. Qc7) 14... Qb6 15. Bg5 Qxb2 16. Bxf6 gxf6 17. Qg3+ Kh8 18.
Qh4 f5 19. Qf6+ Bg7 20. Qxc6 Be6 21. Nb5 $13) 14. Nxd5 $1 {I burned 40 minutes
on my clock to make this decision, as it changes the dynamics of the game
completely!} ({Much worse is} 14. Qh5 g6 $15) 14... cxd5 15. Qxd5 Qf6 $1 (15...
Nb6 $2 16. Bxh7+ Kxh7 17. Qxd8 (17. Qh5+ $6 Kg8 18. Rxd8 Rxd8 $14) 17... Rxd8
18. Rxd8 $18) 16. Qxa8 ({This was my main candidate move} 16. Bc7 $6 Rb8 17.
Bxb8 (17. Bf5 $2 Nb6 18. Bxh7+ Kxh7 19. Qh5+ Kg8 20. Bxb8 $19) (17. Bb5 Re5 18.
Bxe5 Nxe5 19. Rfe1 Ng6 $15) 17... Nxb8 18. Rfe1 Be6 19. Qb5 Rc8 20. c3 $44 {
Black minor pieces are very active}) (16. Bg5 $6 Nb6 $1 17. Qxa8 Qxg5 18. Qf3
$15) 16... Qxf4 17. Rfe1 $1 {White mounts an attack.} (17. Rde1 $6 Rd8 18. Qe4
Qxe4 19. Bxe4 Ba6 $15) 17... Ne5 {only move for black to keep the game close
to equality} (17... Rd8 $6 18. Qe4 Qh6 19. Bc4 $16) 18. Bb5 {piling on the
pressure} (18. Qxa7 Nf3+ 19. gxf3 Qg5+ 20. Kh2 Qf4+ 21. Kg1 Qg5+ $11) 18... Bd7
$1 19. Qd5 Bxb5 (19... Bd6 $2 {I was really scared of this move, when I had to
make the sacrifice on move 14} 20. Kf1 $1 (20. Bxd7 $2 {I saw this draw line
on move 14, and decided that having atleast a draw is a good sign} Nf3+ 21. Kf1
Nh2+ 22. Kg1 Nf3+ $11) (20. Qxd6 Nf3+ 21. gxf3 Rxe1+ 22. Bf1 Qg5+ 23. Kh2 $18)
20... Qh2 21. Re3 $18) 20. Qxb5 Re6 21. Re3 $1 {the only move that gives white
an edge. The idea of the move is multifold, 1)Incase of an attack on h2, the
white king can go f1-e2 and have a safe haven. 2)White can play Rd8 next move
3)stops potential checks on f3} (21. Rd8 $2 Nf3+ 22. gxf3 Rxe1+ $19) 21... h6
$2 (21... g5 $142 {This would have prolonged the battle} 22. Rd5 Rb6 23. Qe2 f6
24. c4 $44) 22. Rd8 $1 {Hoping for Qb8.} (22. Rde1 $5 Bd6 23. g3 Qf6 24. Kg2 g5
$44) 22... Nc4 $4 {[#]} (22... Qf6 23. Qd5 g5 24. c3 $16) 23. g3 $1 $18 {My
opponent completely missed this move} (23. Rxe6 Qc1+ 24. Kh2 Qf4+ $11) (23. Qc5
$2 Nxe3 24. Qxf8+ Kh7 25. Qh8+ Kg6 26. fxe3 Qxe3+ $19) 23... Qf6 {[#]} (23...
Qc7 24. Rd7 Qc8 25. Rxe6 fxe6 26. Rxa7 $18) 24. Rxf8+ $1 Kxf8 25. Qb8+ {
Precision} (25. Qxc4 $2 Rxe3 26. fxe3 (26. Qc5+ Re7 $19) 26... Qxb2 $16 {Weak
king and broke pawn structure does not guarantee an advantage for white}) 25...
Ke7 {[#]} 26. Qc7+ $1 (26. Qxa7+ $2 Kd8 27. Qb8+ Kd7 28. Qb7+ Kd8 29. Rd3+ Nd6
$44) 26... Kf8 27. Qc8+ Ke7 28. Qxc4 Qxb2 $2 (28... Rxe3 29. Qc5+ Kd8 30. Qxe3
Qxb2 31. Qxa7 Qxc2 32. Qxf7 $18) 29. Qc7+ 1-0[/pgn]
This was the last Pan-Am for myself, Ray Robson, and Manuel Leon Hoyos from the Webster team and I guess we can call ourselves very content Pan-Am veterans (playing six Pan-Am which is the limit according to collegiate chess rules).
Webster Team. Photo: Paul Truong
2017 ended on a high note, and now its time for the top four finishers (Webster, Saint Louis University, Texas Tech University, and the University of Texas at Rio-Grande Valley) to battle it out for supremacy from March 30-April 1, 2018 in the Final Four of Collegiate Chess at the historic Marshall Chess Club in New York City. For more on the Pan-Ams, check out Al Lawrence's on-site coverage: