In my last installment, I left off after my win in round 4 on the white end of an advanced caro with a cute pawn sac and an aesthetic finish in a king pawn ending. As promised, a note on the tournament standings at this point. I was very excited to see all the chess.com lecturers in action (was very tempted to ask Danny Rensch for an autograph but didn't want to seem like too much a of a chess geek :P). In between rounds I went back to the team hotel room and went over my games and the games of my other teammates. My friend, Sid, at this point was 3/4 with three wins and one loss (the loss coming to a tactical oversight in the round 4 game). He was to finish with 6.0/7 at the end of the tournament to win over 1500$!!! And so I again congratulate him for his achievement. His style is always to play with vigor and spirit, to take the initiative and not let go and I hope to emulate him in this respect as I continue to improve (n.b. He is a King's Gambit and Alekhine's Defense player who goes for a good Budapest Gambit against d4, all exciting stuff).
Going into round 5 I knew that my only chance of winnning any prize money was if I swept the rest of the rounds and got lucky on tiebreaks (although apparently there are no tiebreaks as prizes are combined and divided). My hope was going into the tournament on day 1 that I could get at least 5/7 points, but realistically I would be happy to finish above even. I had black against a 1600 in round 5, which was probably my easiest game of the tournament (I got it analyzed afterwards briefly by the generous GM Federowicz, who by the way has great chess stories). Lately my scores in tournament play with black have been superior to my white scores. Here is an example of how to punish poor opening play (granted it is fairly basic stuff):
Round 5 for me was a quick and simple win that left me with lots of time (as it was the second and last round of the day for the section) to get food and relish the experience of being in a large and exciting tournament. I spent time going around and checking lots of the master games (mentally cheering for all the chess.com people). Many tense and fighting games were played in the Open this year, and the games are quite deserving of study. I hope to analyze some of the sicilians and benoni games in depth soon. Finally, I waited up for my friend, Sid, who battled his game out for over 6 hours to collect a hard fought win in a knight ending! We ended up getting late night food at and then crashing a little after one.
The next morning, I awoke about half an hour before rounds and packed all my stuff because we had to leave the room before round 6 started. I decided to get food and calmly arive about 20 minutes late to the round instead of rushing and being out of the right mental state. I feel like composure and calmness are key for full exercise of mental ability in chess and elsewhere in life. In the next, and second to last round, I was paired against a young girl who was again rated over 200 points above me (which I'm quite used to by now, being underrated). The 20 minutes I was down on the clock mattered only around move 30 or so. It was a decent najdorf sicilian, where I certainly played passively and gave my opponent the upper hand, which was later returned to me as initiative against the black king.
I felt that after the questionable Nb3, I was slightly worse for quite a while, slowly buildind up pressure on the kingside for a later f5 break while my opponent had active chances against my castled position on the QS. It seems I went wrong with cxb3, which I will consider more at another time. I also feel like I had better attacking chances after e5! that I missed due to being low on the clock. I was certainly worse in the ending by a bit, but was happy that I held it without too much trouble (certainly not with perfect play though).
Because I had only drawn the sixth round game (and was hoping for a sweep), I knew that I was out of contention for prize money and so let myself get a little complacent in the final game. I rushed the opening and messed up my theory in the panov, which is not a good thing to do. I didn't care too much about the result of this game in terms of the overall tournament, but it still held value as a learning experience. I was able to hold a worse game after blundering a pawn in the opening after 10 moves of theory: a mistake I have taken note of and will not let happen again.
Thanks to all for following this blog! I had a fantastic experience in which I learned a little more about myself as a chess player, gained some practical knowledge on the openings I play, and got to witness a lot of spectacular chess by the pros. Overall, I am content with my performance, although I wish day 1 had been better. I look to continue with more studying and tournaments over the summer so that I can surpass the 1600 easily by the time school starts back up in late September. Until the next update :)