I am 2 wins, 1 loss so far.
Round 3 was my first loss, mainly due to poor time-management. At move 30, I was up 2.40 according to Crafty but had under 5 minutes to find the right tactical shot (first time-control at move 40). I thought Bg4, sac the queen on d1 mating with the rook, but this was incorrect. Correct was …Re8, …Qa6+, ditch the bishop on b3 and mate with queen and rook, rook comes down to e1.
I found it frustrating to not know my opponent’s strength and weakness, but I have a new rule now. There are oddball exceptions, three at my last club in CA, but as a general rule I will now assume that rating strength at the high class level comes from endgame strength, it’s a more consistent source of rating points anyhow. As a rule, I should look to win in the middlegame. My last club seems to have thrown me off because since then it seems like every Class A players’ strength, or Expert’s, is in the endgame. I feel more confident now in how to approach higher-rated players.
I offered a draw with …Qa5 and he took it as a sign that I thought my position was weak! After his next move, I thought Bxa or Qb6+ were good, but he thought if I played Bxa2, trade bishops on a2, and he was mating me (because he can play Rh3). Not true, as I am simply up a pawn and can defend – it was his longest think of the game though, so I guess I believed him because of that. I thought his Qh6 was flaky, but I gave into the pressure of his higher rating. I need to finish these players off, with enough time saved, in the middlegame. I was like Kf1, no way!? and it seemed my intuition was right, simply didn’t save enough time to find the right way. He outplayed me in the endgame though, and his strength there was better than mine.
In Round 1, I almost played Bd3 and could see after the game that it was winning, but Nd3 is winning too really, IMHO, although Crafty doesn’t like …e5 in that line (if he had played Nd4), but it looked winning to me.
In Round 2, I almost played c5 winning another pawn, but didn’t play it for fear of a miscalculation. Isaac had beaten a 2145 rated player in the previous round, but against me, he lost in another Scotch opening.
Game 4 was a nervous “hope chess” blunder. I was making the second move of a bad plan and saw myself blunder a pawn as soon as I had picked up the knight. I say “hope chess” because if I had one more tempo there to play Be2 before his Ne5, White’s position would be practically winning. I had only looked at …Na5-Nc4, but …Ne5 threatens the fork on c4 – to trade knight for Be3 – plus the pawn on f3. I’ve made this same blunder on FICS before, but had seriously contemplated Nb3 instead as being more solid. Blundering my pawn and Rd2, my two fastest moves of the game were my blunders; should have saved more time for defense, not simply attack and otherwise throw the game away.
Mentally, I wasn’t tired, although nervous throughout, but physically I was shot from having walked around Manitou Springs the previous day (lost 4 pounds). So, I took a generic B multi-vitamin before round 5 and felt world’s better. Walked to the coffee shop with an Expert and bought some tea, though. That’s the thing, caffeine doesn’t actually give a person energy IMHO but people think it does. Mainly, I think it’s a decent appetite suppresant or if you drink a lot more than normal, then perhaps it gives energy for one day.
Ted played fast in my time-pressure, which was a bad idea even if he was way behind. He didn’t play NxBc5, fingers crossed, which let me keep my monster attack going. I had looked at Bb4 even a move previously and accurately saw 3 moves deep, but it was a 6 move combination that wins 2 rooks and pawn for Black’s queen, so I was really surprised to get a chance to get it in on the next move so nicely. As I told him after the game, there was no need to play b4, although seemed playable, because I still had a few developing moves I needed to make before pushing the center-pawn.
I got one rating point from this tournament, largely because of the blunder in round 4 where I made it back to the table, sat down, and blundered just like that. Actually, immediately before this blunder my opponent had said something nice to me in the restroom, but since I didn’t have his same energy level it somehow broke my concentration, like I was taken aback a bit before responding. Normally that doesn’t happen to me but I think knowing how to handle yourself is a big part of a rating and that’s why it is important to play OTB.
For example, hand-waving at the board, my 4th round opponent waved his hand over …Nc7 instead of …Ra8 and almost played it. Perhaps he sensed my body language and didn’t, I don’t know, but it looked like it might drop a pawn or could even trade queens. Mature players, IMO, don’t do this as I think it’s almost equivalent to “touch move” because out of courtesy you don’t want to make your opponent nervous and distracted by your hand-gyrations. It turned out to be his longest think of the game and he got it right. My second round opponent in the Scotch, funny moment, he grabbed his king on like move 3 and took my e-pawn with it 4 squares away. I immediately said “Forget about it. Is the board set up right?” It was, but I didn’t make him move his king move anyway, little point in that. I think he was nervous from his huge first round win (after I congratulated him on it) and then having to play against my Scotch opening again. He does the hand-waving thing but actually makes the move right away. This is a lot of what you learn to do and not to do OTB from a tournament – hopefully one learns.
After the game my fourth round opponent told me that h4 was book, but I was attempting to get out of book sooner. It’s funny, I just looked at one of Polly’s games and the kid playing white, I think 800 level or something got the same position I had as White but played h4. Certainly it should make one realize that it’s necessary to either learn the opening completely, however one decides to play it, or avoid it and learn something else.
Before the tournament, the game I dreaded most was Black against Ted again and that is exactly what happened (round 5), but notice that all of the openings study that I put into translated into a win. That win was largely due to openings study as frankly I still think he is a better player than I. So openings determined in large part the outcomes of rounds 4 and 5, not ratings or playing strength differential.
As a side note, my third round opponent that beat me lost his last two games. I saw one of them, and it appeared that he lost quickly in the middlegame; actually he made his moves quite quickly against me as well.
If you can believe it, my first round opponent scored 3/5.
I finished 3/5. I am not going to play the Open Sicilian in big tournaments anymore as that loss cost me the chance to win $48, and believe me, I could use it!
I always played the Open Sicilian for tactics training, just like I picked the French Def. for closed games training. Big tournaments, prize money if not rating points are important, moreso than in club games IMO. That was really dumb of me to play an Open Sicilian against a young teenage kid rated 1600 level. Of course their weaknesses are going to be much later in the game, but especially in their own opening!
And yet, here is a game that I just played on FICS. White makes a number of errors but doesn’t it seem clear that it’s someone trying something out? At tournaments people, at least those who are getting a good score, tend to know their openings so you can’t count on this sort of thing happening. So yeah, I guess if people actually played like this at tournaments, it just might take me only 6 minutes to win a game.