I won against a 1722 kid, surprise, he blundered in the endgame. I almost accepted a draw, but then remembered to say “make a move first” and I really didn’t see any danger by that point in playing it out since it looked drawish but he was the one being forced by that point. He missed b4 supporting his knight, and if I take his pawn, his knight recaptures. I still could have won his pawn then, but he could then sac his knight for the final pawn. I told him after the game that b4 would have been a draw, but I guess I got lucky that he didn’t “grok” the idea of one pawn remaining means you can sac your knight for it.
Game 2, I played an 1800 player as White, Scandinavian. I thought I need to play d4 on move 2 because by move 3, he could play Ne4 and then NxBd2. He said that he wouldn’t have done that, and would have played Bg4 and then Bf5 only if I play h3. So I played the drawish d3 against him, and was really playing just to hold on and finish the tournament on a good note. I was fortunate to get the draw as this guy killed me with his Scandinavian last time we played a couple years back. ah, nice.
I believe I finished with 2 draws and 2 wins, 3 out of 8. I would guess I am still barely an A player, perhaps like right on the line 1805 or something like that, dunno, but it keeps my streak of like 12 tournaments now in a row where I’ve maintained an A level rating. I survived! Funny thing is I feel normal, like I could just keep doing that as if it were my day job or something. You get used to it. My strategy was to play my way into the tournament and I believe that worked.
Here’s my take on most players, well, there are two types of players, Ill list them:
1. The MDLM type player. This player predominates, and it is the most practical style to be. They know the ideas of the openings quite well, but to me it seems like they are mostly about finding the cheap shots or tactics. Chess is basically a tactical smoke-break for them or something like that. Their tactics are much more advanced than their “sense of the game”, where it’s going, unless by going you mean tactical opportunities/possibilities scorecard. Virtually all kids that I play fall into the category. To attain this category, you probably need to follow the MDLM advice of spotting simple tactics until smoke comes out of your ears and these patterns are burned into your brain, never to be missed in a blitzing moment, all 2 move tactics.
2. The strategic player. They like slow, methodical, closed games that build up over time. These players are usually older. I’m thinking anyone who has taken the time to study a book like Zurich ’53 qualifies for this camp, probably Blunderprone fits well under this category (he’s a hybrid like me, plays some sharp openings) This style fits people who have studied lots of master games, but have not necessarily played thousands of blitz games like I’m guessing many of these kids have.
I consider myself to be a hybrid, basically falling into the number 2 camp, but I don’t intentionally try to play slow safe openings in order to minimize risk and maximize strategic chances, but I can play this way if the situation calls for it.
I think my strengths and weakness are much more evident to me now in light of this. I need to drill on “dumb tactics” until I get to where I never miss one. I should probably camp out at a chess-tactics server type site, but really I’m not going to bother (getting addicted to that sort of thing). I’ll keep studying tactics from regular books until I see all of the themes right away.
For me, I find it strange that so many opponents want to blitz the game out, even at this time control, although stronger players I think usually do take their time. If you are like me, you have to take your time, slow the game down in the opening, take those 10-20 minute thinks. If nothing else, it lets them know that you aren’t there to make their “blitz tournament” complete, no, they are playing at “your” time-controls, ie slow. I suck at blitz, if I wanted to play a blitz tournament I would have signed up the “D” level section. I’d love to accommodate these fast-playing kids by playing quickly, but I simply lose that way, and I lose my way.
Openings theory is important, it is the “idea” you want to get in to give you and advantage. I’d say it’s the rule that people who play these tournaments are “booked” in the lines that they play. My feeling is that the journeyman player, after a while, learns some lines down cold, but more and more seeks to “leave the opening” and yet somehow still retain some initiative and dynamic chances. I don’t think this is “the” path for growth, but it probably does help to keep a rating progress steady (yet slow).
Personally, I would rather go into a game “booked up” than have some flaccid opening as White. To learn theory, I think a player has to sit down and ponder deeply each move of opening theory, why the move had to be played now and not a move from now, that is my take. If it is not learned slowly and patiently then how will it be remembered/recalled in such a way?