I've had the fortunate experience of gaining 80ish rating points in my last 2 or 3 tournaments. This jump was caused largely by an U2200 tournament win, where I went 4.5/5. With the exception of my round 2 game, which was more or less a theoretical refutation of an old line in the Poisoned Pawn Winawer, my other 4 games were played from dead equal (and almost drawish) positions out of the opening. Somehow, I managed to go 3.5/4 in these positions.
I feel like I've improved in my ability to outplay someone from a roughly equal position, and because of this, I've not felt obliged to go into dubious or overambitious variations because of the fear of simplicity.
This 15 minute game which I played online is a good example of this. I equalized, and then began to outplay my opponent. You may feel that my opponent collapsed way too quickly, and that the position absolutely should have been drawn, and you're probably right, but I had a slightly easier game and it has surprised me how quickly people fall apart when they are deprived of an active plan.
The opening is a slightly unorthodox Queen's Gambit Declined.
Click here for part two.