Fighting Draws in Texas Chess Games

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On behalf of the Alliance Chess Club, Louis A. Reed Jr. organized and directed the Fifth Annual Queen City of the Prairie Open and Fort Worth Championship on July 16–17, 2022. I scored five draws out of five rounds, a performance that cost me US Chess and FIDE rating points. Surprisingly, with 2.5 out of 5 points, I won the first expert prize. Four of my five draws were “fighting” draws, taking most of my energy and almost all my time too.

Tournament Conditions

Last year, at this same tournament, I tied for first expert with 3 out of 5 points. At the 2021 tournament, Reed provided all the chess boards and sets. He also provided clocks for the top boards.

Likewise, in 2022, Reed provided chess equipment for this North Texas tournament. In European tournaments, from what I understand, organizers usually provide chess equipment. In most U.S. tournaments, one must bring one’s own board, set, and clock.

Round-by-round

In the Fifth Annual Queen City of the Prairie Open and Fort Worth Championship, I drew every round. Except for round 3, every game was challenging. In round 1, I played on the top board. It was wooden, with large wooden chessmen. Here is a photo of me mid-game. I was wearing a mask, as I did during all my games. But I removed the mask for the photo.

WIM Alexey Root

Photos in this article were taken by Louis A. Reed Jr.

As White, in the position after 41…h3, I am worried. Black, played by Vinh Welsh, is close to promoting his h-pawn. What move sequence did I play to draw?

In round 2, I faced Tim Steiner. Tim works for The University of Texas at Dallas Chess Program. Since I also work at UT Dallas, I know him well. Steiner is a tough opponent for me. In previous editions of the Queen City of the Prairie Open, I have lost to him and drawn him. However, in 2022, I was winning our game. Then I let his rook onto my back rank. Despite Black being ahead four pawns, White has a fantastic resource to draw. Can you find it?

My only non-fighting draw came on Saturday night, in round 3. I was paired with Pallabi Roy. In our postmortem, I learned that Roy has a UT Dallas connection. Her husband finished his Ph.D. at UT Dallas. Roy recently moved from India to the United States. She and her husband are living in McKinney, Texas.

Roy offered me a draw on move 11, around one hour into the game which had started at 5:30 p.m. Besides considering the position, I also thought about the rest of my evening. My thoughts were as follows: If I take this draw, I will have time to swim. One sport I love almost as much as chess is swimming. I have already played hours of chess on Saturday, but I have yet to visit the pool. So, I took the draw, analyzed it with her for about 20 minutes, then swam for 30 minutes (7-7:30 p.m.) in the hotel pool until 12 children jumped in. 

Round 4, Sunday morning, I played Harish Chandran. I had a huge advantage, then gave that advantage away. Chandran, as White, had an edge when he offered me a draw.

Round 5, Sunday afternoon, I had White against Colin Wei. Wei had an advantage almost all game. But in the final position, where Wei offered me a draw, I should have said “no.” Can you figure out why?

Results and Book Signing

Here are the US Chess rating results, the FIDE rating report, and the standings of the Fifth Annual Queen City of the Prairie Open and Fort Worth Championship. A US Chess expert-rated player, Brian Tineo, won the Open section. Since Tineo could not win two prizes, and I finished ahead of the only other expert, I took the first expert prize. Expert means a US Chess rating between 2000 and 2199. Here is a photo of me holding my check.

WIM Alexey Root

Each day of the tournament, I advertised both of my employers. I am the Chief Science Officer for Chessable, so I wore Chessable shirts and drank from a Chessable water bottle. I am a Lecturer at UT Dallas, so I carried a UT Dallas bag.

Before round 3, I had a book signing for United States Women’s Chess Champions, 1937-2020. From its proceeds, I donated $51 to the Alliance Chess Club. I appreciate the club holding an annual Queen City of the Prairie and Fort Worth Championship. I look forward to the 2023 edition of it!

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on Amazon.com.

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