The Best Laid Plans

Mar 5, 2013, 7:29 AM |

So, on the advice of others I will begin cross posting here with my regular blog located at

"Form is temporary, class is permanent." - Hikaru Nakamura

Well, I played in the March Madness tournament this past Saturday. I had just achieved my all time rating high of 1724 and I felt on top of the world. But I performed poorly.

I started out with a first round pairing against an opponent who was rated 1096. I was up a piece for a pawn by move six and so as you can imagine that game was just total domination. There was one annoying moment for me when I was up two pieces and lost an exchange back.

It was the type of move that I likely would have made anyways had I calculated it because it had the nice effect of simplifying the position. However, that's not what happened. What happened was I just missed the move and he was able to win the exchange.

As my opponent was a kid he (as expected) did not resign so I forced him into a helpmate. It wasn't my intention the entire time, it's just something I realized I could force towards the end and so I did.

My second round game I was paired against the top seed. He was rated 1940 but hadn't played in several years so I thought I would have good chances. What started out as a Modern Defense quickly transposed into an Accelerated Dragon. I went astray somewhere early and got cramped as he pawnstormed me. I then hung a knight. Flat out hung it. Moved it en prise and then resigned immediately when he took it.

The bad news is that it was the worst blunder I've made in a couple of years. The good news is that it was so bad I was able to laugh it off so it wouldn't affect my third round game.

In the third round I face another kid. This one was rated 1440. I played the Sicilian and he played the closed variation. I had never faced it or really studied it before so I wasn't aware of the idea that Black will typically play ...e6 or ...e5 in order to develop the king knight to e7 rather than f6.

I quickly learned why when I hung a piece (another knight) to a simple tactic. My knight on c6 was loose as I had played ...b5 and so he was able to play e5 which hit my knight on f6 while unmasking his bishop on g2 which hit the knight on f6. I misplayed the continuation as I should have been able to get two pawns for the piece but I didn't.

He showed excellent technique from there and ground me down in an endgame.

So when all is said and done I took three lessons from this.

1) I need more work on tactics. Seeing as how I dropped both an exchange and a piece to simple tactics I clearly haven't been working on tactics enough.

2) I need to remember to ask myself "Is it safe" ala Dan Heisman. Had I done so I wouldn't have hung that knight in game two. I may have lost anyways, but I could have put up a fight.

3) I needed to (and since have) looked at some Closed Sicilian lines.

After round three I withdrew and went home. I was tired and wasn't playing well so I knew it was better to call it a day.

New rating is 1699. However, unlike the last two times when I went over 1700 then dropped right back down I feel good about myself this time. I can see the areas I need to improve in my game. I can smell that Class A approaching.

The games.