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First Master Scalp!

First Master Scalp!

Aug 1, 2016, 6:11 AM 14

In the past when I've been paired against a master in an OTB tournament, I've felt a bit like Tyrion Lannister.

In the second tournament of my recent Philadelphia trip, the World Open U2100 Championships, I scored my first master scalp. This win extends my current unbeaten streak against masters to four games, making me feel a bit more Dothraki than imp.
In the second round of the tournament, I went into an endgame with an extra pawn and the two bishops vs a bishop and knight against a 1900 player and it should have been a straightforward win. But, I got my king distracted on the rim of the board while his king nicely centralized himself and began to threaten my kingside pawn mass. All of a sudden, even being a pawn up, I needed to play "only moves" in order to even hold a draw. Unfortunately, I didn't find one of those and lost the whole point.
The rest of the tournament went as expected, with me beating a 1200 and 1700 and then losing to one of the two tournament winners, a 1900.
It was a good overall result as I won the U1800 prize with 3/5 points and bumped my rating up to 1751--near its all time high from last summer. If I had scored 1 more point during this trip, I would have crossed into Class A.
Lessons Learned
  • I had a fantastic trip to Philadelphia this year, gaining 84 points between the World Open and World Open U2100 Championships. And, I got to stick a bit of prize money in my pocket for a change.
  • I showed much stronger play overall. My performance rating for the WO U2100 was 1900 and could have easily been 2000 if I had kept control of a winning position in the second round.
  • Looking over many of my games from the trip, my coach, NM Joel Johnson, said that he was pleased with my results but that in most of the games I drew or lost I had good winning chances and either missed them or settled too easily for a draw against my higher rated foes.
  • This is leading me to construct some targeted "win the won game" exercises for the my 3rd quarter training plan. I think I will take resigned games from several of the master games books I've recently worked through and set up the positions where the opponent resigned and play those against my engine set to a 2200 or 2300 strength. Doing this consistently for a few months should help plug this whole in my game and give me confidence (the most important missing element against Class A players) to pursue the win in a better but unclear position.
  • In the beginning of the year I put off doing hard tactics problems in favor of repeatedly doing many very easy tactics problems in order to burn the patterns into my pattern bank (I've done lots of these over the years via Seven Circles, Saltmines, or Woodpecker training). This is a good thing to do but I also need to do lots of hard problems that challenge and enhance my calculation and visualization skills. Around April I started doing the hard problems again and clearly they helped me in these tournaments. I'm currently using the book Manual of Chess Combinations 2 and Chess Tempo Mixed-Mode for this training.
  • Centralize your king in the endgame!

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