The summer of 2015 was a fantastic first World Open performance for me in the U1800 section, where I scored six of nine points and walked away with an all time high rating of 1753. Since that peak last summer, I've found myself in a retooling period where I've taken on a new repertoire, hired a new coach, and have tried hard to transition to a more active style of play.
It seems this retooling period caused a six month decline that (hopefully) ended in Battle Creek, Michigan a few months ago where I bottomed out at 1648. But since that bottom, I've scored positive rating gains in my last four tournaments, bouncing back to 1751--and missing going over 1800 by just two missed half points in the 14 games I played in Philadelphia during the World Open and World Open U2100 tournaments a few weeks ago.
But chess in not all about ratings! It's also about exciting games, challenging ourselves, and meeting people. Contrary to popular stereotypes, chess is a very social activity. Where else do you spend as much as five to six hours with someone you've just met, locked in an intense "conversation" over whose ideas are better?
I had many fantastic battles in Philadelphia in the U2000 section this year and managed to win two games and draw another four (losing three...) where I was at least a 150 point underdog in every game.
Let's look at some games.
In this first round I faced an 1885, making me a 200+ point underdog but I was determined to come out swinging in this tournament and take the fight to my Class A opponents. In this game, it succeeded.
Most Disappointing Loss
Going into round 4, I had 1.5/3 points, scoring in both of the first two rounds. So, I was feeling pretty good and my confidence was high. I brought this confidence into this game and missed some opportunities to score a full point.
A Few Draws for Good Measure
Of the four draws in the tournament, I had one where my opponent had to fight for the half point but the other three were agreed draws in unclear or drawish positions.
Besides some great fun playing chess, I also got to spend a lot of time with my brother-in-arms, David
. He audaciously entered the U2200 section as a 1783 and battled experts for most of the tournament, as a heavy underdog. Though he didn't score a lot of points, he demonstrated once again that he is on the verge of blowing through 1800 and eyeing 1900!
One thing that I try to do at the big tournaments is attend the GM lectures and game analysis. This time around, I wasn't able to get to any of the analysis session conducted by GM Sam Palatnik. The hours seemed strange or I just couldn't get there for whatever reason--maybe because most of my games went quite long. Both David and I were able to attend the lectures by GM's Sevian and Kamsky. Sevian lectured on positions where rooks need to exploit open files--a generally useful topic and for someone so young, he did a nice job explaining the positions (though, organizers, please give GM's working microphone for lectures as they all seem to be very soft spoken!).
Kamsky's lecture was also interesting but were all involving lines in his pet London System. As a Torre Attack player, I found them useful to some extend but I imagine most of the other 50 players in the room would have appreciated a more universally useful topic.
If you are wonder where the masthead image for this blog was taken, it was at the Independence Seaport Museum
, located on Philadelphia's riverfront, where I had my "cultural junket" for the tournament. The ships in the background are the Cruiser Olympia and the submarine Becuna.
Touring the submarine was surreal, as I served as a submarine crewman back during the Cold War but hadn't stepped aboard one for over 25 years. It was during patrols on that submarine that I began playing chess games against another crewman who had been a member of his high school chess team and hence a much stronger player than me at that time. I barely knew the rules of the game and had no idea about things like pins, discovered attacks, or prophylaxis But that time underwater inspired me to eventually pick up my first few chess books and enter my first tournament in 1995.
The day after the World Open ended, I played in round one of the World Open U2100 Championships, which I'll cover in my next blog post.