Pikes Peak Open

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.

Day 1:
Round 1
Round 2
Round 3

Day 2:
Round 4
Round 5

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.

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5 thoughts on “Pikes Peak Open

  1. Game 1 – looks like an easy win.
    Game 2 – your Bxf7 decided it. I wasn’t sure about exchanging the queens, but your endgame technique prevailed, of course going into pawn ending was the final mistake.
    Game 3 – yeah, you let him walk, his Kf1 was bad.
    Maybe if you look for simple threats first, then you see Re8 ( discovered attack) and then you calculate more, you can’t penetrate on “d” line anyway.

    Good luck with the remaining rounds.

  2. Thanks, Rollinpawns. 🙂

    Yeah, exchanging queens was an accident. I gave Anthea and her son Isaac an eye-opening rook endgame lesson between rounds; she said she didn’t know a lot about endgames like I did, and wanted to know how she could learn and be able to play them like me. 😉 But that’s a style, she avoids endgames but has a “killer” middlegame.

  3. Game 4 – frankly, it wasn’t your best game. Your position looks completely undefended, I think even Rxc3 was possible. I remember Karpov in his second game of a candidates final match with Korchnoi in 1974 had Sicilian Dragon and defended his Nc3 with a rook: http://www.mark-weeks.com/chess/74kkc1.htm
    Dragon is a very sharp variation, you can’t just play it because it’s interesting :).
    I would probably play at least 200 blitz games and learn a lot of lines before I ever try it OTB.
    Game 5 – it was an opposite of Game 4, well played opening and a strong attack. Strange that he didn’t resign after losing the queen.

  4. There are opportunities for serious slow games in FICS. TeamLeague is a great way to practice for OTB chess and has a decent time control(45 45) – there are people sporting 2000+ ELO ratings in the higher sections(U2000, Open). Preparation is a big part of the tournament – you can check your opponent’s previous games and try to take him by surprise. If you’re interested in joining, take a look at http://www.teamleague.org or join ch 101 in FICS.

  5. Links bookmarked, thanks!

    The new system is already in place, got a nice attack with it against a 1996 player, no more dragons against kids – actually, it avoids the Open Sicilian and I know of no monographs or lines on it, it’s a great surprise weapon. Najdorf or accellerated Dragon would have been okay, I simply haven’t put any time into the classical dragon where I’ve found that White can overcome it. Really, it’s the largest book advantage of any Sicilian IMHO for Black, if Black studies it a lot and dragon players are usually the most booked.

    Even without my 3 wasted rook tempi, I could not find any way to save it with Crafty’s help. Black’s attack keeps coming crashing in before White has a chance to do anything, unless Black equivocates/temporizes.

    I could have got a comfortable game with 0-0. White gets an advantage, but if Black plays it right (and he has plenty of time to here), then it’s a draw. In hindsight, I would have been okay with a well-played draw (or win). 0-0-0 was foolish even with the extra time. I play h4, Black plays …h5 (which just about all dragon players know to play these days) and it’s hard to find progress for White, while Black simply keeps developing an attack. I thought I could find a different way but one bad plan can be disasterous as I found out. g5 was also a mistake as I hadn’t seen his …Nc6 defense of e7 until after. Even he made a sound where it seemed as though he thought he had blundered at first.

    That said, I could easily book-up against the classical dragon. I was worried about the wrong things, such as exchanging knights on d4 (more a threat in the Najdorf) but Ne5 is even better for Black. Also …Nc4..NxBe3 isn’t so bad for White – it’s any lost tempo that could become a concern. You’d think trading either bishop for a knight would be bad against this dragon, but actually that’s not such the big deal as White has a big space advantage in the center and initiative that would be wrong to let dither away. Any false step can lead to tactical shots for Black, of course.

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