Path To Chess Prosperity #11: 12/14/2017 Tournament Analysis

Path To Chess Prosperity #11: 12/14/2017 Tournament Analysis


What's up, guys and gals?

On December 14th, which was a Thursday night, some members of the Waco Chess Club got together to play in a small rated chess tournament. I will note (I think I have mentioned this) that I am a club tournament director, and virtually the only one in my hometown Waco. That may seem like a big deal, though we only have a few members (let alone who play in tournaments), and as long as everyone is well behaved, all I do is publish pairings, and submit the event for rating.

Anyways, so a few weeks before this date, I decided to direct one more event before the year. Since our usual location for club meetings was unavailable, one of our members, Jeff Spyrison, knew a lady who owns a law firm and got that location for us to play.

I enjoyed the location, though there were a few existing inconveniences. The door had to be locked when people were not entering or leaving the location (I guess due to security reasons, which makes sense. The door was, in fact, locked when I got there, though Jeff was there to unlock the door), and I think people overall had a tough time finding the location (it was a plain white building, so I can't blame them). 

Anyways, enough chatter. All in all, six people showed up (one player, Jeff, in fact, was going to omit actually playing in the tournament, though renewed his USCF membership after round 1 to play), and I was the highest rated player by a good margin. Matthew Potts was my nearest challenger, by about 150 rating points. Jeff, in fact, was the third highest rated player, roughly 200 points behind Potts. The rest of the field was pretty balanced.


The playing field.

My round 1 opponent was young Logan Shafer (1258). He is only eight years old with an impressive rating. I am pretty sure he also is within the top 100 of his age group in the USA. I was not about to let the game slip away, so let's dive in. Enjoy!

Some notes:
  • On move 7, either recapture is fine, as bxc3 opens the b-file and strengthens central control, though, if possible, it is best to try and activate the light-squared Bishop in the French if possible. Black ended up using that Bishop to trap White's Rook
  • Be3 is often a mistake by White in the French Defense because Black's Queen is often on b6, targeting the b7-pawn. It's OK if it's safe, but in this instance, White lost not one but two pawns.
  • It is important not to get illusions... like that the e7 Knight would be hanging if Black castles!
My first round opponent, Logan Shafer, pondering what to do after losing a second pawn.
This was obviously a satisfying win against a lower rated player. The tournament was already getting into its pivot point as I was paired with Matthew Potts (1552) in round 2. I felt relatively confident going into the game as I had previously held a 2-0 record against the man in OTB tournament play, though it was in my head that this game was for all of the marbles, and I thought I did a good job keeping my cool throughout the match.
My round 2 opponent winning his first game with the White pieces.
Some notes:
  • Passive play is probably what ultimately lead to Black's downfall.
  • Looking a move ahead would have benefited Black, as he should have played 7... c6, in which Black would have won the pawn back had White taken it.
  • On move 26, a5 was a morally weakening move by Black, and now White has something serious to target.
While I felt like I had control over the course of the whole game, this was, no doubt, the toughest game of the round for me. 
Round 3, I was paired against Jeffrey Spyrison. Mr. Spyrison was semi-retired from competitive chess, though I believe he competed in Austin in 2015, and last year, played his first local tournament in years (it was the same structure as this one, though he didn't win a single game). Jeff took a half-point bye in round 1, and defeated my Dad in round 2! So he was suddenly sitting at 1.5/2, in clear 2nd, looking to play spoiler in our round 3 matchup. I was going to have none of it.
Some notes:
  • When Black's Knight goes to g4, e5 as a destination square makes much more sense than h6.
  • As ugly as it looked, Black had his chances to defend with Kh8 and Ng8, though he didn't take advantage of that opportunity.
  • Black might as well had played the worst move possible with 19... Nh5??, which lost the game instantly
It was a good feeling to go back on the tournament chess boards after somewhat of a drought and to win three games against local opposition. And I pocketed a few rating points! 
With the rating gain, I was able to crack the top 500 active players in Texas.
Anyways, I hope you guys enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed posting and playing! Let me know if you have any questions! My next tournament will be a local one on January 6th. It won't be a huge one, though it should be bigger and have more competition than this tournament. I do also have the Texas Scholastic Championships in mid-March, which I will be posting to you guys about.
I hope you have a good day, and a Merry Christmas! 
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