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Land of the Sky XXIX, Asheville, NC, January 29th-31st 2016

By Davide Nastasio

The Land of the Sky tournament attracts a lot of players from nearby states, to a certain extent for the nice location, and in part for the monetary prizes.  This year 166 players fought in this great tournament.  GM Elshan Moradiabadi won the Open section, with 4.5 points out of 5, winning $1,600 for first prize.  In 4th place, with only one loss against the winner of the tournament, Benjamin Barry Moon won $533 for 1st place under 2300.


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The U2200 section was won by Jonathon Mcneill and Peter Michelman with 4.5 points out of 5.
And in the U2200 section, we witnessed a great performance by Miss Jayashree Sekar, who gained nearly 100 points!
A player we must keep an eye on is Rochan Bakthisaran, who clearly dominated the U1700 section, winning with 5 points out of 5 and climbing a good 300 points in just one tournament!

The U1200 section was won by a Georgia Player: Amit Mydukur, with 4.5 points out of 5.


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Click on the following link to see all the results of each section:
Land of the Sky XXIX Event Summary


Here is a selection of games from this prestigious tournament:

GM Moriadabadi is not a Georgia player, but I believe to study his games is of extreme importance. In this case, he wasn’t able to gain the advantage over his opponent in the opening or the middlegame, but he had a clear idea of the endgame that he wanted to enter, and that his knight would be stronger than the enemy bishop. This game makes clear why we need to study the endgames.



This is another game not played by Georgia Players.  It was an important game because it was decisive in showing who was the winner of the tournament. Often we don’t understand how important a game is, but Black at the 5th round was 4 points out of 5, while White was 3.5.  A draw for Black could have meant winning the tournament, a win would have meant winning the tournament, but Caissa is a capricious goddess.




This is the other very important game, which determined the winner of the U2200 section.  Both players were at 3.5 points at the 5th round, and in this game we can clearly see the fatigue from the last game, and how the player who has the strongest endurance is able to win. That little bit of extra energy makes the difference between winning a tournament or a fall to 8th place.  Chess is a cruel sport!




Rochan is clearly a dangerous player.  Throughout the tournament in the U1700 section he caused upset after upset, defeating opponents with 300 rating points higher than his in every round!  Notice in the following game how he wins easily.




I’m generally not envious of what other people have because I believe we live in great times, and likely the best country on earth; however, I am truly envious of how well GM Moradiabadi plays the endgame, and I wish I were able to play it as well as he.







Pictures thanks to the North Carolina Chess Association.


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