2nd Muswell Hill FIDE Rapidplay
Today I participated in the 2nd Muswell Hill Weekday Rapidplay Tournament. While seeming from its name to be a small, friendly, local tournament it is actually quite strong (this month it included a GM, an IM, two FMs and two CMs) and is thus a great opportunity to play some very strong players. As my national rapidplay grade was used (as I did not have a FIDE one), which was inevitably slightly inflated at 2050, I started the tournament as 5th seed.
In the first round I gained my first titled-player scalp (a CM), although my opponent was only 1805 rated. A KID soon turned into a Benoni pawn structure after he played the Averbakh line (5.Bg5), except that he recaptured with the e-pawn. I had managed to trade the light-squared Bishop for the f3-Knight, and gained a pawn in the endgame when he missed a tactic, which I then converted.
The second round was a French against another player who had a fantastic tournament (he scored 3.5/6 starting from 20th seed with a rating of 1705 and wound up 7th). He played 3...h6 against the Tarrasch, and despite my handling of the position being somewhat less than optimal, I managed to get a big Kingside attack and won fairly comfortably.
In the third round, I played a 2343-rated FM. I fully expected to gain nothing out of the game apart from a good game and some experience, but the game took some rather strange turns...
In the 4th round I played a slightly lower-rated player than my previous opponent who just happened to be an IM. The game was another relatively unusual French Tarrasch, in this case Guimard's 3...Nc6. After a rather sub-par handling of the position by the White player, I lost in the traditional IM's opponent fashion in a long queenside grind.
My 5th round game was against another FM. A Fianchetto KID appeared to be heading for a dull, drawish game, which I almost certainly would have lost, until my opponent decided to sacrifice Q for R+B+P. The position appeared to be very good for me, especially after I won a pawn back, but I was horribly outplayed in the resulting position until managing to force a perpetual check with his c-pawn about to promote with mate.
I had yet another French in my final game. Well, sort of. My opponent actually started with 1...a6! which forced me to think for half a minute or so, but normality was soon resumed after we transposed back into the Rubinstein French with a slightly funny-looking ...a6 added. I then proceeded to forget all the theory and wound up in a difficult queenless middlegame with him having a minority attack and a rather annoying Knight. However, I managed to drum up enough counterplay on the d-file and then on the 8th rank to ensure a balanced draw ensued.
The tournament was well-organised and the venue was mostly good, if a little cramped and noisy at times. Overall, I finished with 3.5/6 and 5th place on tiebreaks, which far exceeded my expectations, especially with four rounds against titled players. I shall definitely try to make future runnings of this tournament when I am able.