[if you missed my first piece about this tournament, it is here]
As day 2 began at the Western Class Championships, the two day schedule began. Separate schedules is something which may not exist outside of the U.S.-- they allow players to play more games in fewer days, and get paired with the other players once they have played as many games as them. So for example at this tournament, the 3-day schedule played round 1 Friday evening, while the two day schedule played two fast games Saturday morning, while round 2 was being played. Then in round 3, the two schedules merged and were paired together.
The extra schedule brought an extra influx of strong players to the event: GM Khachiyan, IM Sevillano, IM Matikozian, and IM Amanov. With so many interesting possible opponents, I was really pumped up to play. I would also have been happy to play some of the rising young stars like Jeffrey Xiong or Sam Sevian, but I did hope to get a chance to face off with one or two of the higher-rateds, so I meant to "take care of business" in round 2, and earn myself some top clashes.
But then a strange thing happened to me...
The end of this game, with me having 13 seconds plus the 5 second time delay, and realizing I had blundered into e4, and deciding to pitch the fate of the whole game on a bishop + rook sacrifice had an incredible effect on me: I was shaking, overcome with nerves. I could barely stand up; in fact it took me more than one try. I was shaky, and my hand shook badly as I fumbled to return a borrowed clock to the very friendly Wayne Xiong. Although the game had lasted just under 4 hours, I was exhausted as well, feeling much as I had at midnight after being the last game to end in round 1. In fact, I thought it was midnight and that it was time to go home... only to discover that it was only the morning game, and there was a second game to be played that same day.
I was in no shape to play. I was dispirited with how badly I had played what should have been one of the easiest games of my life, and overall very suspicious of my form. Plus my body was telling me I was done. Despite that, I had almost certainly earned myself the previously-desired clash with a top player, with the black pieces, in the next round.
I often have these "feelings" before a game that tell me that I will do well or poorly. Depending on my prediction, I'm sometimes criticized for being over-optimistic, or lacking in confidence. And so I have been trying to keep track of them to see how accurate they are, and thus far they had been very accurate, and I have been of the opinion that these feelings are me having a good internal sense of when I have good or bad energy, concentration, etc. Of course, they could also have a self-fulfilling component to them.
So, let's see what happened as an apparently out-of-form, tired, nerve-wracked me went up against IM Amanov with black in round 3:
So, mark one against my inner predictions. Zhanibek admittedly played some moves I don't like in this original position, but still, just judging my own play this game, I think it was *very* good. Afterall, chess and people are not that predictable, a good game can emerge under random circumstances.
Now, even though this was only a 5-game, 3-day event (I am used to 9 round events), I was already feeling exhausted, and for all my excitement about playing interesting games with good players, I was absolutely happy that it was a "sprint" of an event that would be over soon.
An annoying thing that a lot of tournaments do is they schedule the rounds earlier and earlier each day, to allow for people to save a night on hotel rooms, by leaving after the last round on the final day. So the next morning's round would be an hour earlier than today-- plus it was daylight savings, so I would lose 2 hours.
So partly I was worried that I would not have any strength tomorrow. At the same time, success always buoys you, and I was really happy to be one of two players at 3-0, in the lead! And the next round I figured I would be paired with a third black against the other leader, IM Roman Yankovsky, which was a tantalizing prospect. I've wanted to get revenge for this game since several minutes before it ended, and I also thought he had a few weaknesses that made him very beatable even with the white pieces. Which would leave me at 4-0 with white in the last round, I could definitely win this tournament!
So I had plenty of reason to get past my fatigue and play well the next day... stay tuned tomorrow for the conclusion!