US Open

IM Fins0905

Hey all - just got back from the US Open in Orlando and wanted to give you a quick recap of my performance.

I decided to play this tourney very last-minute, so I chose the 4-day option.  This resulted in a strange schedule: 3 games of G/60 on both Thursday and Friday with an additional game of 40/2, SD/1 on Friday night after the section merge, followed by only 1 game on both Saturday and Sunday.  Needless to say, the 4-dayers (and there were a lot of us...including most of the GMs!) were hoping to make it through Friday intact to set themselves up for the "leisurely" weekend pace.

It's amazing how rusty one can become without a steady diet of tournament chess.  I hadn't played since the Philly Open in April, and it definitely showed.  I grappled with my calculation all tournament.  My thought process in concrete positions was all over the map.  My openings weren't up to par, and I was particularly struggling with Black.  In round 8, I easily achieved a won game vs. a player rated 400 points below me, only to reject a few "complicated" winning lines in search of the elusive "clean" win.  The result was an incredibly disappointing draw.

On the positive side, I still scored 6.5/9 with only a single loss.  Here are the games (note that a couple of the early rounds are incomplete due to the fast time control):

The damage to my FIDE and USCF ratings was mercifully minimal, so I mainly viewed this tournament as a convenient status check.  Things I will take away:
  • Need to work on calculation in positions that demand incisive play.  Don't get lazy!
  • Insisting on the "cleanest" win in a won position is a sure-fire way to let your opponent back in the game.  It's fine to allow your opponent counterplay if your decision is supported by concrete decision-making.
  • Black openings need to be strengthened.

Hopefully I'll have time to write a lengthier blog about my experiences so far in NYC (cliff notes: it's been awesome).  

Next up is the Manhattan Open, Aug. 17-21!