Starting the Trail to GM

Aug 5, 2010, 5:32 PM |

Starting the Trail to GM  - US Open Day 1

Hello everyone! My friends have been asking me to keep them up to date with my chess and I decided that a blog might be the easiest way - so here it goes!  I'll keep everyone up to date on my tournaments (currently the US Open).  In addition, every Monday I'll write a quick update of what I've been up to, and a lesson about how to improve.

I started chess late.  My first real competitive chess was less than 2 years ago, and I'm turning 18 in a month.  Right now, I'm rated 1647 USCF, although I feel I'm much closer to 1800-1900 when I'm playing at my best. I've been lucky enough to find a great coach - IM Shankland.  Unfortunately, for the last couple tournaments I've been playing incredibly poorly... Of the 11 games in the National Open at Las Vegas, I seriously blundered in 9 and there was only 1 single game where I felt I played well. Somehow, I scored an strong 4.5/6 in the U1600 and 4/5 in the U1800 Scholastic - I must have been channeling Lady Luck instead of Caissa!

So I spent a lot of time prepping and feel reasonably comfortable about the US Open.  Due to the single division I knew I would face some really tough opponents and potentially very weak players.  In my first game I was against a 2061 - a whole 400 points higher than me, I played very well!  I had a slight move order innaccuracy in the opening, but it transposed; I missed a tactic to win a pawn and have a favorable game.  Then I missed a mating tactic at the end when my opponent was under time pressure and I was becoming anxious and playing too quickly.  Here's the game:


Overall, I felt I played okay.  I could have or even should have done better, but I felt that my weeks worth of opening practice helped a lot.  I could still work a little bit on my calculation, and managing (my opponents!) time pressure.  Not a terrible start.  Now for Round 2.