2016 MD Quick Championships
Hi chess friends,
Yesterday I took advantage of some free time to compete in the Maryland Quick chess (12 minutes and three second increment) and blitz (3 minutes with two second increment) championship tournaments. I play very little USCF rated blitz and even less quick chess and as a result my quick rating lagged behind my slow rating by 350 points. I didn't take notation in the quick games, but was able to recreate most of them afterwards. Here's how it went.
Round 1 - white against a young 1400
My opponent was similar in age and rating to some of my chess students, but he completely held his own against me throughout the game. I was at least ahead on the clock, which likely contributed to the following blunder.
Black would be completely OK after Kf6, attacking my rook, but instead played Rxd5?? and I quickly converted the extra exchange. Despite the win I was not happy with my play in this round and got some coffee to help me wake up for round 2.
Round 2 - black against a 1900
My opponent missed a fork, which netted me a pawn in the opening, and a relatively clean win. The most interesting moment, was the very clever trap he set early on.
I found the precise move Qg5, to force the queen's off and convert the extra pawn. Instead, Rxb2?? actually loses! See if you can spot the refutation.
Round 3 - White against GM Larry Kaufman.
I've been on the same DC Chess League team as Larry for a long time, which meant that we had never played before. I offered an intuitive (turns out to be unsound) piece sacrifice in the opening. It worked very well because neither of us could evaluate the resulting positions, so Larry thought for a long time and declined. I ended up with a large advantage, but he defended well and reached a drawn endgame. However, he was down to his last minute on the clock, and I took my last practical chance. I'm not sure if the position below is 100% accurate, but the ideas are the same as the game.
After a few moves I don't fully remember the game ended like this.
Round 4 - white against an NM
I was paired against the only other player with a perfect score. I had a slightly better structure, but nothing special out of the opening. However, black simplified prematurely into a difficult ending. My play wasn't perfect, but passive positions are very hard to defend in quick chess, and he wasn't able to hold.
Round 5 - black and trouble against NM, Mauro Boffa
I didn't hold on to clear first for long. I mishandled the opening and my opponent played a very strong game to beat me confidently. I'll need to either fix my Tarrasch Defense prep or switch to one of my other lines. I'm very impressed with white's handling of this game, so the loss doesn't hurt too much
Round 6 - black and a lucky break against an FM
Now I was back in a multi-way tie for first place with 4/5. I played the black side of a London system. This is the one game from my tournament that I wasn't able to remember many moves from. We reached a drawn queen ending, but with mutually exposed kings and only seconds on the clock. Both players tried hard to win, but couldn't make any progress. If my opponent had offered a draw a couple of moves earlier, I probably would have accepted, but instead I responded to his offer by pointing out that he had just lost on time.
Round 7 -White, bluffing against a young NM
I entered the last round tied with GM Kaufman at 5/6 (Note: I thought I was tied. In retrospect, I was half a point ahead). I faced a teenage master, who surprised me by actually trying to keep notation for most of the game. Remember, this was 12 minutes with three second increment, so there's not a lot of time to lose. I played an anti-King's Indian system that I know well and gained a large time advantage. In the middle-game I recklessly decided to sacrifice a couple of pawns for an attack, judging that my opponent wouldn't be able to defend with only a couple of minutes on his clock. The sacrifice was objectively bad, but made some practical sense. We eventually reached this position, where I played a fun tactic, but missed a far more brilliant move.
In the end I finished with 6/7, which ended up being a point clear of the field. This was my first state championship of any sort in Maryland and my first USCF rated (albeit quick) win against a GM. I didn't have long to celebrate because I was also signed up for the blitz championship that evening. I played OK there, tying for 2nd, but finished well behind of IM Levan Bregadze, who steamrolled everyone to the tune of 9.5/10. It was a fun experience, but I'm ready to head back to slow chess next week.