I competed at a local tournament this weekend, and considering how crazy my July has been thus far, I can't complain at my performance. It was my son's first tournament, and it was nice to have him there (and he got a win, so that was gravy).
Before I post the games with my FWIW thoughts, a couple lessons learned:
- Don't schedule ten days of camping vacation and the deployment of a mission-critical application you've been working on for seven months the month of a tournament! Between 12+ hour days and poor sleep while travelling, I hit the tournament running on empty, and didn't have the time to prep that I would have liked.
- I need to practice more with time controls, like live chess. I never got in time trouble, but I typically ended the game (win or lose) with 30 minutes or more less than my opponent. In G/90 games, that feels like a big gap to me. I don't want to rush, but I need to start feeling comfortable moving without quite so much navel-gazing. I feel like a lot of the time, I have the move that I want, then I spend a few minutes looking for something brilliant. I'm not good enough to find that, so I might as well save the time. Also...
- I need to get better visualizing. I'm sure I rely too much on the analysis board here, and since the bulk of my playing is correspondence chess, it's always there. I said the same thing last year after the tournament, but I let it slide. I need to get more disciplined about this.
Round One: Bye
Because of my work, I ended up having to take a bye in the first round, which was irritating. It's an open tournament, so I knew in my first round or two I'd be playing significantly higher rated opponents after getting the 1/2 point for the bye. Plus, I play so few rated games as it is. Oh, well.
I barely got to the tournament in time for round 2; I was in phone meetings on the drive there, and I walked in the door as people were sitting down at the boards. So, zero prep time, complete lack of pre-game focus, and playing a guy rated 550 points higher than me. Lovely.
Not a stellar beginning, but one of my goals was not to hang major stuff, and I got out of this one without crossing my personal threshold there.
I got to play the tournament organizer next, so it was a little busier; he'd get up and take care of things during my moves, but since I take awhile, it wasn't like I could complain...
So, two games and two losses, but I felt decent in spite of missing some things. I don't know the Sicilian that well, but I got out of the opening without being a lot worse off, which was my goal. I haven't got a lot of study time, and I'd rather spend it on tactics.
Day two; I didn't get as much sleep as I wanted, because I spent two hours working after the tournament, and another hour before it. But enough excuses...
So I got a win, and that mercy 1/2 point from the bye isn't my only score. I knew I didn't play great, and felt lucky to get the point. After talking with her coach, I felt very lucky to have gotten it...
This was my best game of the tournament, even if I showed some lack of understanding in pawn structure in the endgame.
Black played perfectly into what I wanted, so it looked pretty easy. I'll have to run it through analysis to see how badly I really played, but other than underlining my need for better pawn knowledge, I felt really good about this game. The Scotch might not be best at a GM level but it's worked well for me thus far.
I went into the last round with 2.5 so I figured I'd be playing a pretty strong player relative to me. I'd also checked and seen that I needed a full point to tie (at best) for first in my class, so I wasn't feeling a lot of pressure there; I wasn't playing to win anything in the tournament.
And after all the work and travel and four long games, I was pretty tired to start with. But I wanted to finish well; I had played so far without hanging any pieces (that anyone took advantage of), and I was hoping to finish without a major blunder.
Not a great ending, but I think I'll learn something from reviewing the game, so that's good.
Overall, I was pleased with my results, and I had enough decent play to be happy with the tournament. The USCF rating estimator said I played at about a 1430 level, and my estimated rating will be in the upper 1200s after this gets in (since I have so few games recorded). My personal estimation was that I was 1200-1400 (probably nearer 1200), so that's good.
This tournament had some really under-rated players, IMO. There were a bunch of kids that were sub-1000 that played much better. Maybe it's just because their coach is good and they don't make as many mistakes, but for whatever reason, they were handing 1500+ rated players all they could handle and more pretty often in the tournament.
Another reason to study and rest more before next year, I guess. And my son said he'd like to go again, so we'll be getting ready together...