Round 1 of the Pittsburgh Chess Club tournament: the Greek gift sacrifice

Start of first round

Tonight was the first round of the latest six-round Tuesday night tournament at the Pittsburgh Chess Club, my first tournament in almost two years, the 14th Fred Sorensen Memorial.

The tournament

There was quite a large turnout for this tournament. Apparently a good number of people who had not played for a while (like me), chose to come back also! There were also new faces.

Always most striking to me after I’ve been away for a while is to see kids whom I haven’t seen in years, because they often end up many feet taller! They are dangerous opponents, because they typically are growing their chess as rapidly as they are growing taller.

I am the highest-rated player in the tournament, as I often used to be. However, since I have not played in tournament conditions in a while, I need to warm back up to my past tournament strength.

What is my purpose?

A bunch of guys noticed that I was “back” and ribbed me about it, asking me if I was back to dominate or to have fun. I replied, in all seriousness, that I am back for fun. Sure, I want to win, but I don’t want to get obsessive about chess again.

The game

This being round one, I played against someone considerably lower-rated than me, but someone who has certainly won or drawn games against me in the past. Lower-rated doesn’t mean a guaranteed loss, else there would be no point in playing. I try to take all my opponents seriously, no matter what their rating. I actually have learned the hard way that disrespect has a way of resulting in blowback. I must earn every win I achieve.

My opponent and I both played fairly quickly. The last time I played in tournaments, I was very doubtful of myself and overthought trying to compensate. So for this tournament, I have decided to try to relax and play reasonable moves without overthinking and trying to absolutely optimize as a computer would.

I ended up winning in less than an hour, by smashing through as White using the classic Greek gift sacrifice. I have used this sacrifice in several games over my life. It’s always cute to use it. I have accidentally fallen victim to it in the past also!

The Greek gift sacrifice in action

The annotated game

Enjoy playing over the game with my annotations!


I was pleased to see a large turnout at the latest Tuesday night tournament at the Pittsburgh Chess Club, including old faces as well as new ones. I played a clean game in which I managed to use the Greek gift sacrifice to quickly win. I enjoyed not only the win, but what I felt to be sound, correct play on my part. A good start for me in this tournament, but I expect next week to be much tougher!

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