OTB U120 Tournament Victory! (part 1)
I participated in a weekend chess congress, and after having won all five games, I became the outright winner of my category (U120 ECF, which is roughly equivalent to <1600 FIDE) with a perfect score of 5/5. It was great fun to play in, with a turnout of over 130 players, 50 of which were in my category.The time control was 110 minutes per player, with an increment of 10 seconds.
I played the first round on Friday night. You often hear strong players talking on the subject of beating lower rated players with one prominent theme - You sit back, and wait for them to trip up. That was just what I did. The London system served me well, giving me a solid foundation to build an attack on. After some 16 moves, my opponent blundered a pawn, and so I had a passer on the a-file, which posed real problems to my opponent. Here is the game in question:
After a good night`s sleep, I woke up and did some exercises, then I set off down the road to go back to the venue. After 5 minutes of my arrival, the crowds of people who were previously in deep conversation all hushed in a rapid diminuendo as the tournament organiser cleared his throat on top of the stage. After all of the official notices were said, I started my opponent`s clock.
My round 2 game was not a very convincing win, when I really ought to have lost after the strong Bxa7! threatening to destroy my queenside after Ra8, with Qxb7!. My only hope was to begin a slightly desperate counter-attack with Qh4!
Here is a puzzle from my round 2 game, which is a checkmate combination that follows from my opponent trying to play on with Kf2.
Since my round 2 game was reasonably quick, lasting no longer than 2 hours and a half, I had a relatively long lunch break. Some people would analyse their game in this time, but I thought my time would be better spent relaxing, to cool down my engine. I didn`t have to worry about the opening prep, because I would surely be white, but later on that day (after I had played all of my games) I checked over the exchange French, in case I had to play it in rounds 4 or 5.
In round 3, I played my usual London system setup, which is a solid opening, that avoids much heavy theory. The middlegame plans are simple and can be applied to many positions that you get. In the game, my opponent was moving quite quickly, and at move 13 he blundered. There was an intermezzo that changed the position, and allowed me to win a piece for a pawn. I thought that the piece could be recaptured a few moves down the line, but my opponent missed this, and lost after I safely converted the advantage. Here is the game:
So, after rounds 1,2 & 3, I was in joint first place with one other person, out of 52 players. This head start would give me real chances on Sunday. Someone at my chess club said to me beforehand "if you win your first 3 rounds, get a draw in round 4 to give yourself some chances." I did bear this in mind in my round 4 game, where I allowed the queens off on move 11. Would my positional grind be enough to play for a win, or did I take the draw? Read next week`s article 'part 2' to find out!