Corsican Circuit - Open Orezza 2019

Corsican Circuit - Open Orezza 2019

FM RitvarsReimanis

Hi All,

A week ago I had the pleasure to take part in a blitz and rapid tournaments held in Corsica, Bastia. Me and my girlfriend decided to take a little trip to South of France and then spend a couple of days on the beautiful island that Corsica is. While not a summer weather, the days were fairly warm and it was truly enjoyable to explore both the seaside, mountains and tiny towns on the island - can highly recommend to pay a visit to this piece of land in the Mediterranean.

On some serious stairs on the coast of Corsica down South
One of the breath-taking views

A passionate fast chess player I am, it had been a couple of years that I wanted to take part in this very tournament as usually it the lineup is very strong, and if I play well I may even have a chance to grab a prize or two. This year unfortunately the tournament was overlapping with Isle Of Man Open, and as a result the Corsican festival wasn't as strong as usual. Despite that the lineup still was fairly good and I was hoping to show a good result. Among the players participating were such names like GM Fressinet Laurent, GM Kovalenko Igor, GM Gareyev Timur, and many other strong GMs.

Usually it is quite a challenge for the organizers to run fast chess tournaments efficiently due to the speed of how fast the games finish, however, I gotta admit in Corsica everything went quite smoothly, especially in the rapid portion of things, so big thanks goes to the tournament organizers for their efforts!

The first 2 rounds of the tournament went more or less smoothly as I won the games and it was the round 3 that would bring some more excitement - I was paired against the Latvian No 1 GM Igor Kovalenko. Igor has proven to be a strong blitz and rapid specialist as just back in July he managed to win the Tal Memorial Blitz tournament held in Riga, where the lineup was even stronger than here in Corsica.

Critical game No 1

It was a rapid tournament and there is no need to note down the moves of the game, however, I felt it is important to have the critical games saved, so I can make sure to learn from them for the future tournaments. It is easy to say that I played a very bad opening, but the reality is that there were several underlying factors for my bad play. First of all my psychological state before/during the game wasn't great. I had already lost the game before it started. This happens to me often when facing stronger opposition, and a mindset shift is surely something I need to work towards if I want to succeed going forward. Second of all when I saw Igor chose the KID which is one of the openings I struggle most, my confidence was shattered even more. Afterwards the moves I made at the board didn't really matter - they were just bad.

Actions to complete based on this game:

1) Fix my opening repertoire against KID

2) Make sure my mindset is right before facing higher rated opponents

After the loss in round 3 I recovered by winning in round 4 and 5. In round 6 (last round of the day) I was paired against the French GM Fressinet Laurent with Black pieces. Let's see whether I put up a better fight against him than in Round 3.

Critical game No 2

So unfortunately a loss also in the second critical game of the tournament. This time I started off good in terms of the opening, but messed up in late middle game. After the game Laurent said that he was not happy with how the opening went and that I had a good game as Black. In retrospect, if I had played a lower opponent I would have spent way less time on some of the moves like Bxa6 and Nd6. The position was simple and straight forward, so potentially time management is what led me to making the mistake with premature b4.

The next day I started with 2 wins and drew last round with White pieces against GM Shchekachev Andrei, which I thought would be enough for me to finish in Top 16 and qualify for the KO stage of the tournament. Unfortunately I was wrong as I finished on the 17th place and no KO for me this time around. Nevertheless, I think the tournament was very interesting as I discovered clear weaknesses of mine that I need to work on going forward. Also I had a chance to compete with some really strong players, which is always great.

Final Standings:

My results round by round:

After the Rapid tournament I also played in the Coca-Cola sponsored Blitz tournament. The story in the Blitz portion of things was similar to rapid - I won all the games I should have won against lower rated opponents except of one draw, where I messed things up when being a clear pawn up after the opening. And then I lost to GM Shimanov Aleksandr (Russia) and Fedorchuk Sergey (Ukraine). The game against Shimanov I lost in the opening as I misplayed a line in Queen's Gambit Accepted (don't remember exactly the game, but have reviewed the variations there) and against Fedorchuk I played well the opening, but was just too slow. After the opening stage was over I was down to under a minute on the clock, while my opponent still had 3 minutes on his clock, so it was challenging to try and defend against all the threats he posed.

All in all, I can say that I need to learn my openings better and have more confidence when playing them. Do not give too much respect to the 2600+ players, because after all it is fast chess and everything is possible. 

Final Standings of the Blitz tournament:

My results round by round:

If there is anyone interested to have a sparring partner to improve in rapid/blitz chess who is rated around my level, please let me know. I would be very interested to have regular games here on with someone who is serious to improve.

Hope you have enjoyed reading this and let me know if you have any questions!