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  • Writer's pictureJames Neal

2021 Los Angeles Open

I am currently in Los Angeles and one day out from my first tournament in about 2 months. The last event I attended was the Iowa Open where I did a reasonable job (2223) of patching the damage my rating had taken over the last 2 years (2282 to 2174). My lifestyle had gone through some serious adjustments, but I feel everything is beginning to balance itself and I currently have much more time to dedicate to chess. Two months is quite a gap between events. Even if I am feeling good, it might turn out to be an illusion when I start playing.

There are currently 65 players in my section and a good chunk of them are around my rating or higher. I usually begin me tournament preparation by checking out the top players and estimating my chances in the unlikely encounter. The highest rated player in my section is Melikset Khachiyan (2511). His most recent tournament was the 2021 US Senior Championship. He did not do well in the event going 1.5/9.0 but I am guessing he is extra motivated to erase the nightmare this weekend.

I took a quick look at some of his games and stopped at his 4th round game against Alexander Shabalov. I was further drawn when I realized Melikset was beaten with the French Defense. I posted some brief analysis from the game below but I really did not find any serious flaws from Khachiyan, it just did not happen to be his day.

Though most of his losses were due to his opponents nursing small edges, he was not playing good chess this event. In two of his games, he was muscled into the loss of a pawn, 2 were due to being outplayed and another loss, the one I am interested in, was his game against Joel Benjamin where he was put away in 27 moves. I figured this game might encourage me to blow the dust off some of my sharper lines.

Melikset will be a tough opponent to play. If I choose a sharp line against him it will have to be sound but rare. I think this might be tough to do with my repertoire. The alternative will be a positional game that will require me to be in great calculating shape to avoid overlooking a small detail before we get into crunch time. Though his rating is the highest, I think I am more concerned with three 2400s beneath him.

I will be playing the 2-Day Schedule so it will be cramped on Saturday but I will keep you posted when I can make the time.


My Openings are heavy positional from 1.e4 or 1.d4. My defenses are heavy positional from French and Queen’s Gambit Declined. If you are interested in following my progress and infrequent words of wisdom, you can follow me on my Instagram account below.

I am also in the process of creating shorts videos relating to my chess progress. I created a short video summary of this pre-tournament preparation you can follow through the link below.

Also, if you want to associate yourself with the best chess club on Earth, you can join the Thunder King Chess Club. We need your POWER!


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