I guess you could call it a chess hangover, but it took me a week or so to recover from the 14 rated games I had played in the span of 7 days. Now that I'm ready to look back into all the chess I played, I figure it's a good opportunity to analyze my overall play and results - and to share with you the ups and downs of a crazy chess stretch!
I played two tournaments: the first was a 6 player double round robin with 3 GMs and 3 IMs. I started out slowly with a draw and a loss on the first day, but ended up with 2/4 after playing all of the GMs with Black in the first 4 games. Here is my loss:
If you read my last blog post, you might remember that I also had a painful endgame loss when I played in Gibraltar, so if the trend continues it seems like I'm due for at least one painful endgame loss in each tournament I play. Uh oh! After my loss I finished the rest of the tournament with a +3 score, and I was happy to see the positive shift in my results - I also scored an overall 4/5 with White, which hasn't happened to me in a while. So, I was happy with this tournament for the most part and I was even on the winning side of an endgame for once (see below). Before playing this tournament I was planning out some group lessons for my students and was going over the importance of the outside passed pawn and then came across a perfect example of it in one of my marathon tournament games:
I finished the tournament in second place behind GM Moradiabadi from Iran who had a good performance with 7/10 and no losses. Naturally, after traveling from Chicago to Phoenix on Friday and playing 10 games of chess - it only made sense to go home and play a game 30 tournament with 4 games on Saturday! :) I ended up tying for first place with a Belgian-Iranian IM, Mohandesi, who has recently moved out here to Arizona also. I lost 1 rating point in the game 30 tournament which felt like a big success after playing so many games in one week.
I want to finish my blog with the most interesting game I've played in a while (at least to me) which happened to be against IM Mohandesi but from the ACE Arizona State Championship a few weeks ago. The game started out with a Rauzer Sicilian that I felt happy with and by the time my opponent had played Bxd3 I already felt very confident and after a few more moves I was winning, only to "blunder" it away with a slightly careless move. It turns out that my blunder actually wins in a cooler way, eventually leading the Black queen to be dominated even though it appears she has the entire board to roam. It's a rare tactic, unlike any I saw in my marathon week of chess:
27. h5! would be extremely strong. Black would have been powerless against the threat of Rhc1 and Rxf8. The way I played in the game was not as strong and gave Black decent drawing chances. Although I would have liked to have played the strong h5! in the game it actually worked out better that I didn't.
I ended up having to grind out a slightly more pleasant position against strong opposition and in the process I learned a lot about these types of endgames. I don't think everyone else shared my enthusiasm for the endgame, though!
My next tournament is a few weeks away in Saint Louis - I'm still hunting my final GM norm, and I expect to be around 2480 FIDE after this mini-marathon is rated. People sometimes ask me if I'm discouraged or anxious because I haven't gotten my final GM norm - and as hard as it is, I have to remind myself that the final norm is just one small race in the much larger marathon of my chess career!