The Return of the Des Moines Open

The 2018 Des Moines Open was held July 7-8 at the Holiday Inn in Des Moines, Iowa. The five round Swiss System tournament was the third Des Moines Open since the turn of the century. The last Des Moines Open listed on the US Chess website was held August 4, 2007. Five years prior, the event was held June 29-30, 2002. This tournament was the last two-day Des Moines Open as the 2007 tournament was a four round G/60; d5 event. The time control of the 2018 Des Moines Open was a G/90;+30. Of the six Des Moines Opens listed on the US Chess website, the 2018 event had the largest field of participants, thirty-five.

Chess players from seven states competed in this event: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska. Five masters and four experts competed in addition to many class A and class B players. Christopher Nienart topped the field player with a USCF rating of 2288 followed by Joseph Cheng-Wan (2270), James Neal II (2245), Tim McEntee (2201), and Bob Holliman (2200). The top seeded player, Nienart, commented that he had not played since the Chicago Class Championships held July 25-27, 2008. He annotated the first game he played in almost a decade.

Nienart,Christopher (2288) - Chen,Nathan (1851) [B40]

2018 Des Moines Open (1)

1.e4 e6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d3 [Not recommended because the c3–knight doesn't have good retreat squares after black eventually plays ...d4.]

3...c5 [My opponent plays naturally and gets a good position.]

[3...dxe4 4.dxe4 Qxd1+ 5.Kxd1 This was the position I was hoping for: avoid theory and try to outplay my opponent from an equal position.]

4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bg5 [5.g3 Nf6 6.Bg2 d4 7.Ne2 Be7 8.0–0 0–0 9.Nd2 Resembles a usual King's Indian structure with colors reversed.]

5...Be7 6.Qd2 Nf6 7.Be2 d4 8.Nd1 [The knight has no good squares. Arguably Nb1 was better but it was hard to admit over the board.]

8...e5 9.0–0 0–0 10.a3 [I played this to prevent ...Nb4 but white simply has a lousy position.]

[10.Qe1 Nb4 and white has nothing better than returning the Queen to d2.; 10.b3 Be6 11.Nb2 b5 and black is better due to the space advantage and coordination of his pieces.]

10...Be6 11.c4 [My original plan was to play Qe1, but I was concerned about how quickly black would get ...b5 and ...c4. However this move actually only encourages play for black.]

11...Qd6 12.Ne1 h6 13.Bxf6 [Bh4 was better as black now also gets the bishop pair.]

13...Bxf6 14.g3 a6 [14...Be7 15.f4 f5 was the line I was most concerned about but 16. Nf2 is playable for white.]

15.f4 b5 16.Nf3 [16.f5 Bg5 I didn't want to allow this tempo on the queen but the queen should move away from d2 anyway. After Qc2 and Nf3 the black bishops will need to retreat]

16...bxc4 17.dxc4 Rfd8 [17...exf4 18.gxf4 Bh3 19.Rf2 Rae8 and black's position is much better.]

18.f5 [I completely missed my opponent's next move. Nf2 was a better option.]

18...Bxf5 [The bishop does not have to retreat since black has tactical ways to recover the piece.]

19.exf5 d3 [Luckily the wrong continuation which puts white back in the game. Black should have pushed ...e4 and gotten the e5 square for his pieces.]

20.Nc3 dxe2 21.Qxe2 Nd4 22.Qe4 Nxf3+ 23.Rxf3 Qd4+ 24.Rf2 [A significant improvement for white, but the position is equal.]

24...Qxe4 25.Nxe4 Rac8 26.Rc2 Rd4 27.Re1 Kf8 28.Kf2 Ke7 29.Rd2 [Incorrect judgement. I want to exchange all the rooks but the continuation only eliminates one pair and gives black a passed pawn.]

[29.Nd2 Kd6 30.b4 cxb4 31.axb4 was a more promising continuation]

29...Kd7 30.Rxd4+ exd4 31.Rc1 Be7 32.b3 Re8 33.Rb1 a5 34.Ke2 Kc6 35.Kd3 Rb8 36.Kc2 Re8 [36...a4 37.Rb2 (37.bxa4 d3+ 38.Kc1 Bg5+ 39.Nxg5 d2+ 40.Kxd2 Rxb1) 37...axb3+ 38.Rxb3 Ra8 was a favorable change in the pawn structure but the game should still end in a draw]

37.Re1 Bd6 38.Kd3 Kd7 39.Re2 Rb8 40.Nd2 Kc6 41.a4 Kd7 42.Re4 Be7 43.h4 Bd6 44.Rg4 [A blunder but my opponent and I missed the winning continuation.]

44...Be5 [44...g6 45.f6 (45.fxg6 f5 traps the rook) 45...Re8 46.Ne4 Kc6 and white won't hang onto all the weak pawns.]

45.h5 Bf6 46.Kc2 Kc6 47.Re4 Kd7 48.Re1 Kc6 49.Rf1 [I really wanted to squeeze out a win...but this just gives my opponent all the chances.]

49...Re8 50.Rf3 Bg5 51.Kd3 Bxd2 [51...Re1 52.Ne4 f6 and only black has chances for a win.]

52.Kxd2 f6 53.Rf4 [We agreed to a draw here. But black has good chances for a win after either ...Re3 or ...Re7. A shaky game on my part, but 10 years of rust will do that!] =:=

Three masters drew in round one! Only Wan and McEntee were able win. Nathan Chen (1851) drew top seeded Nienart, Troy Cavanah (1850) drew Neal, and Benjamin Darr (1791) drew Holliman.

After three rounds, there was one, Tim McEntee. The four-time Iowa State Chess Champion was undefeated and untied after three rounds to lead the Des Moines Open. Nienart, Wan, Li trialed McEntee by a half point, each with 2.5 points.

The fireworks continued in the fourth round as McEntee (2201) fell to Linden Li (1973), Wan (2270) defeated Nienart (2288) and Nathan Chen (1851) took down the reining Nebraska state champion Ying Tan (2072). After four rounds many scenarios existed. Seven players remained in the position to win a piece of first place. Wan and Li lead with 3.5 points each, Vasto, Chen, Kosokin, Mc Entee and Bob Holliman each had 3 points each. Holliman requested a fifth-round half point bye and finished with 3.5 points.

The following pairings were for the top three boards in round five:

Tim Mc Entee vs. Joseph Cheng-Yue Wan

Linden Li vs. Valeriy Kosokin

Nathan Chen vs. Daniel Vasto

Mc Entee and Wan drew. The games on board two and board three were both battles. Li and Chen are both young improving players while Kosokin and Vasto are veteran players. Everyone had something to prove!

Li,Linden (1973) - Kosokin,Valeriy (2165)

2018 Des Moines Open (5), 07.08.2018

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 c5 5.e3 Nc6 6.Nf3 d6 7.Bd3 0–0 8.0–0 Bxc3 9.Qxc3 e5 10.d5 Ne7 11.e4 Nh5 12.Re1 h6 13.a3 f5 14.exf5 Bxf5 15.b4 b6 16.Bd2 Bxd3 17.Qxd3 Nf4 18.Bxf4 Rxf4 19.g3 Rf7 20.bxc5 bxc5 21.Nd2 Nf5 22.Rab1 Qd7 23.Rb2 Nd4 24.Reb1 Raf8 25.Rb7 Qxb7 26.Rxb7 Rxb7 27.Qg6 Rb2 28.Ne4 Re2 29.h4 Rf5 30.Qe8+ Kh7 31.g4 Rf4 32.g5 Rg4+ 33.Kf1 Rexe4 34.Qf7 Ref4 35.Qe8 hxg5 36.h5 Rf6


Chen,Nathan (1851) - Vasto,Dan (2000)

2018 Des Moines Open (5), 08.07.2018

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Bb5 Bd7 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.Nc3 e6 8.Qd3 Nf6 9.Bg5 Be7 10.Nd4 Qa5 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.0–0–0 0–0 13.f4 Rac8 14.g4 Bxd4 15.Qxd4 b5 16.Kb1 b4 17.Ne2 Bb5 18.Ng3 Rc4 19.Qxd6 Rc6 20.Qd4 Ra6 21.Nh5 Qxa2+ 22.Kc1 f6 23.g5 Qc4 24.Qxc4 Bxc4 25.Rde1 fxg5 26.fxg5 Rf2 27.Kb1 Ba2+ 28.Kc1 Bb3


The veterans prevailed. Wan, Kosokin, and Vast split the first, second, and third place prize money. Other winners: Under 2000, 1st Linden Li $150. 2nd, John Hartmann, Jordan Timm, and Nathan Chen. Under 1800. 1st and 2nd place tie William Polzin and Benjamin Darr. Congratulations to all who participated. Thank you for supporting chess in the Des Moines area.

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