….it can happen to you, if you’re young at heart.
Round 4 and Buck showed up, so I knew I was going to have to try and earn it this time. Very nice guy, older guy who is pretty much a fixture of the Colorado chess scene.
So we started with the English, which curiously enough I predicted! (he played e4 against me last time – Vienna Game). Well, I guess I am lucky that I have some actual preparation for this opening, dating back to my internet games and I personally knew a Master who played similarly as Black and recommended it to me.
Still a bit out of it, wobbly, and drained from last weekend the first thing I did was order coffee, Dr. Pepper (drinking a few cups of each), and a cookie to try and gain some energy. After that I was okay, and started out alright.
He locked down on my light-squares like a pro, but then began avoiding a queen-trade, in an obvious effort to beef up his winning chances, which got him into trouble. Before I knew it a pawn lay at my feet for the taking.
Then he really spent some time and thought about it, and threw out the nifty f4, even niftier in that I was well under 5 minutes (although there is 5-second delay). At this point I started dropping pawns like water, and could tell I was making bad moves as I was playing them.
Then, something strange happened, he traded his bishop instead of just the rooks, which would be winning. Suddenly, I have a draw on my hands. But now, just when I would expect h4, he sees that h4 is a draw yet goes for a draw by marching his king in the other direction. He offers the rook trade and I sense a win, but at least a draw, and so I trade rooks and play an endgame tactic, a pawn push.
He looks at my clock, saying something like “would you believe it?” My clock has 9 seconds left on it, and he resigns, demonstrating the win afterward. He said that I was “a good player”, and I felt speechless, an Expert resigning and telling that to me, I thanked him and was very grateful when he unexpectedly shook my hand, congratulating me.
I finished the tournament with 3/4 – two wins and two draws, tying for first with the older 1956 rated gentleman that I drew (his other half-point was a bye). Would you believe it, my rating is back above 1800? it’s at 1802 now. All this time, and all of a sudden it’s unexpectedly back to Class A again. 97 rating points gained in one month. 🙂 The last time I was rated 1802 was 1 year, 2 months, and 36 tournaments ago!! A miracle.
I guess my wish for improvement would be that, now that RollingPawns has come back down to 1800’s to give me a hand, that we could both march up to 1900 again, it would be first time for me. Tactics are where I need to improve most, for example I only did two tactical puzzles this week, one from Anthea’s game, and one from my game. My last online game was a week ago, and I have lost my desire to spend any energy playing there, it was great for openings though, some of it was anyway.
I think the thing that had helped me the most lately was reading over games from Jan Timman’s book a month back. Yes, I have been tactically weak at times, and I worry that I have enough depth in openings, particularly as Black, as probably do many others, but the Timman book encouraged me to look a bit more deeply at lines, considering what is best for my opponent and how to prevent it. Chess is not always OMGBBQ!, there’s a tactic! Sometimes the position is even, and a little murky, and so play has to be considered for both sides, and above all I think Timman was good at “not losing”, which helps tone down my crazy play. Timman will use crazy-looking lines as justification for his play, but it’s in an objective sense with an eye for positional resources and counterplay.