First Tournament in Over 9 Years

Mar 11, 2014, 8:24 PM |

I recently took part in my first tournament in over 9 years. It was the 99th Knight's Quest tournament in Northbrook, IL. My last USCF rating was 1340, but I decided to play up and entered the Open section.

Before I get to the games, a little background info. I stopped playing in 2005 mainly due to family and work. Recently my friend urged me to join and after playing a little, I got sucked back in. For the past 3 months I've been devouring anything I can about chess. I've read through Capablanca's book, gone through most of Logical Chess: Move by Move, read half (~600 pages) of the archived Novice Nook articles, practicing my analysis, and been running through tactics on an almost daily basis. What I've discovered through all of this is that I played (and still occasionally do play) "hope chess", as NM Heisman refers to it. That is, I frequently play moves without considering my opponents moves and if I can meet them. I also used to move way too fast despite the time control being used. So, going into this tournament, I wanted to play NM Heisman's "real chess" and try and pace myself so as to use almost all of my time.

My plan for openings was to play the King's Gambit as white, and as black, the KID against d4 and the French against e4.

My first match was against an opponent rated 200 points above me. I went into the match fairly confident of my play. Here's the game:

Up until the blunder at the end, I felt I was holding my own, and even winning, at some points, against my opponent. Unfortunately, I messed up on move 25 on two counts. 1) I did not look ahead to check if I could meet all of my opponent's checks, captures, or threats (I could not) with 25. ... Re1. 2) I only noticed the first threat of my opponent's Queen move (that of attacking my d-pawn) and stopped there, rather then looking to see if there were any other threats. What this tells me is that despite my practice, I still need to fully concentrate on playing "real chess" as even one move of playing "hope chess" can completely ruin a game.

My second match was against an opponent rated a little less than 100 points above me. He nipped my plan to play the King's Gambit in the bud by using the French against me. Frown

Again, as in the first game, I was holding my own through the opening. However, my (lack of) analysis skills, really cost me here as I completely missed the Queen move to f5 which negated my attack. Lesson learned from this is that in unclear situations like this in my analysis, it's probably best to go with the safe development move rather than a speculative sacrifice/attack.

I received a bye in the third round, and used the time to go over my second-round game with FM Shankar ( username=grandmastergauri). He was extremely helpful and it was time well spent while waiting for the next round.

My third match (fourth round) was against an opponent rated almost 300 points above me. At this point I was a little disappointed by the first two losses, but wasn't letting that get me down. 

So there you have it. I lose to my two lowest-rated opponents only to come back and win against my highest-rated opponent. All-in-all, I couldn't have asked for a better tournament. It highlighted some good lessons for me to continue my improvement, and allowed me to leave on a high note.

Going forward I plan to really work on my thought process and analysis skills while continuing my studying and tactics work. We will see where I go from here.