On the Road to my First Norm Tournament

GM KaydenTroff
Jun 2, 2010, 6:42 PM |

Since my chess.com blogs are telling about my road to GM, I have decided to take you on the road with me for my first norm tournament and every night (or as often as possible) I will be adding updates on this blog (not a separate blog so keep checking back).  

This week and next week I will be playing in two tournaments.  First is the Copper State International Invitational in Mesa, Arizona where I will be playing in the B section with several GMs, IMs, FMs, other NMs, and few Experts.  Playing against high rated players will be tough, but that is not my first challenge (when I said on the road I meant it).  My first challenge will be the 12 hour drive to get there!  12 hours in a car, and not just any car, but a very small car, and not just my mom and I, but my mom, my grandma, my older brother (who is 6 feet 2 inches tall), and my 4 year old sister and her car seat, as well as all our luggage, snacks, pillows, and blankets for a 12 day trip!  We were planning on going tonight to St. George (4 hours away) then Arizona tomorrow, but it doesn't look like that is going to happen because my grandma got stuck at a 3-hour high school graduation for my cousin and is still not packed (though I am not exactly sure where her luggage is going to go).

The Copper State will be my norm tournament, 9 rounds through 7 days which includes the side events tomorrow night (dinner and a bughouse tournament). There is also a blitz tournament, but I don’t think I am going to play in that one.  The schedule for the actual tournament is 2 rounds Friday, 1 round Saturday, 2 rounds Sunday, 1 round Monday, 2 rounds Tuesday, and the final round next Wednesday.  And then after that, we leave on the 10th to the National Open in Las Vegas.  I will be playing in the G/10 blitz tournament that night.  I decided to do the G/10 instead of the G/5 because last year I played in the G/5 which went to 3:00AM my time after the regular tournament was over and I was actually falling asleep at the board.  One round I completely forgot about my clock because I was so tired.  I ended up dropping 50 rating points on my blitz rating from that tournament (ouch).  The National Open will be 4 days including the G/10 tournament and is a 6 round tournament (2 each day).  I really like the National Open and though I may not play as strong of players as the Copper State, it should still be pretty strong. 

To prepare for these tournaments I had a lesson with my coach, GM Melik Khachiyan, this morning and was then planning on doing some other studying for the rest of the day, but at the end of my lesson I got banned from doing any serious chess studying by Melik and was told to relax for the rest of the day.  He actually made me promise! I made sure my dad understood that it included any lawn work.Smile

Well, I am off to help my grandpa clean the office that he and my grandma clean every Wednesday so that she can get packed.  Make sure you keep checking back for updates.  15 tournament games and 6 blitz games in 11 days…it should be an adventure!!

Day One

We made it to Arizona!  It was debatable for awhile!  The trip seemed to take forever.  Being in a car for 11+ hours is not very fun.  You can try it, but I wouldn't recommend it.  It probably wouldn't have been so bad, but we were totally packed in there.  I had to sit on my blanket and a few pillows and back pack at my feet with my brother sleeping on my shoulder at times.  Luckily we had our game system with a DVD player.  That made it better!!  My mom hates to stop because it makes the time go longer so we stopped twice the whole trip which makes for very cramped legs.  But we made it so it is all good!

We are staying at my grandma's sister's house which is awesome!!  They have a pool in their back yard and a really nice game room...focus on chess...focus on chess...it might be hard!  It is like 40 degrees warmer here than in Salt Lake including late at night!!  My brother is a runner and needs to run 11 miles a day.  He ran late last night and it was still in the 90s!  Glad that wasn't me!

Last night they had a dinner in the tournament room and then we played some bughouse.  The top team was Alex Lenderman and a boy who lives around here who is not playing in the tournament.  I partnered with IM David Pruess and a couple of games with IM Danny Rensch.  I had a ton of fun and we did pretty well.  We played a lot of games against Luke Harmon and his brother, Carl.  It was a really fun night and a great way to start the tournament.

My first round game is against GM Alex Yermolinsky.  We had actually thought I was going to get someone else which is a bummer because I had prepared for him.  I have played Yermolinsky before in Reno, but this time I will be white instead of black.  Hopefully, it is whoever plays white wins Smile!  He won the last one, so it is deservably my turn to win, right?  I am certainly willing to share with him!!

I will let you know how it goes, but for now I am going to have pancakes!!!

Day 2

As you can see from Michael's comment, I had a good start to my tournament.  I got to the tournament about a half an hour before it started.  My mom and I had a good talk on the way and I was able to talk to Melik before the round started so I was feeling pretty good.  GM Yermolinsky played something very different from what I or any of my coaches thought so I just kind of came up with my own thing Smile!  IM Sam Shankland told my mom after his game finished and I was still playing that I was playing something totally crazy and that he had no idea what was in my head.  Luckily, I knew very well what was in my head and it made complete sense to me!  I am not sure that Yermolinsky realized that he was going to go down the exchange (a rook for a bishop and a pawn) or a piece for two pawns because when I made the move, he went to immediately move and then he stopped and looked at the board for quite a while. In the end, I had two rooks and three pawns vs. a rook and a bishop and four pawns.  When Yermolinsky offered me a draw, I looked at the board for about 10 minutes and it looked kind of unclear so I decided to take the draw.  I was thinking about how many times I have heard about lower rated players playing a game out instead of taking a draw and losing. Because it looked unclear, I decided to take it instead of risking it.  After the game, we looked at it for a while and in the end Yermolinsky said it was unclear so that made me feel better.  And for any of you that might be wondering if on move 36 when he played Kg7 if 36...Qc4 wins for him, we both agree (game over).

The second game, I don't even want to talk about the opening!  But I am happy to talk about the endgame.  I really feel like if I had just not made that mistake in the opening that I probably could have won.  I am happy to get a draw against an IM though and will definitely be studying that opening to make sure that I do not do that again!!

Our theme for this tournament is: start strong, stay strong, finish stronger!

You can see all of the games on www.monroi.com

Day 3-Sacrifice gone bad!

Today there was only one round in the tournament so this morning we had a great day at the Adelbergs.  David Adelberg (who is also playing in the tournament and is a good friend of mine) and his family invited us over to their house for swimming and pizza.  They live in Scotsdale and our GPS went a little crazy and had us out in the middle of nowhere in 100 and who knows how many degrees.  It took us about an hour to get there, but once we were there we had a lot of fun!  We swam for awhile, then had pizza and played Super Smash Bros Brawl.  I womped everybody I played with Jigglypuff.  It was fun!

Tonight I played IM Drasko Boskovic from Serbia.  His rating is 2450.  It was a good game.  I played the four pawns attack and we got into a partially drawish position.......and then.......I decided that I would try to see how complicated I could make it.  Seriously, I sacrificed my knight (a very tempting looking move, at least to me) for the passed pawn.  Sounds good right??  Unfortunately, I missed that he could pin one of my pawns and stop me from getting a very good passed pawn.  Down a piece against a tough International Master...not hard to figure out what happened!  Good thing there's tomorrow!!

So far I have done exactly the same thing as Sam Shankland in every round: draw, draw, loss.  My mom told him that he had better start winning! Go Sam!! Hopefully I can follow right behind (only if he wins though or maybe a draw) Smile!

Day 4- The Ups and Downs of Playing in a Chess Tournament

First of all, I have to say that Sam was very obedient to my mom and won both of his games yesterday!!  Congratulations on some great wins!!  Unfortunately, I broke the curse (that would not have been a curse any more) at just the wrong time!!! I was pretty surprised to get a GM (Mikheil Keklidze) after losing my game the night before. We were especially confused when we realized that the GM had 1.5 points and I only had 1 point and I was not the highest rated of the 1 point people.  Alejandro Ramirez said that obviously someone doesn't like me, but I did not look at it that way.  I was excited for the chance to play another GM (two GMs and two IMs, seriously, who could ask for a better tournament).  I would much rather play a GM or IM and have that experience and learn from it even if I end up losing than play someone lower rated and get a point (though I will admit that sometimes it is just better to get the point as was the case later on in the day). 

I would love to be able to say that I had a fabulous game against the GM and just barely lost in the end, but unfortunately as Sam would say, "I got slaughtered!"  Chess is not very forgiving when you are playing someone high rated.  Miss one thing and...game over (especially if that one thing is that he can take your rook)!  As I said in my last blog, chess is about learning and gaining experience.  I definitely can say that I learned some things from this game, but I must admit that it is much more fun to learn lessons while winning!!!

My second game of the day was against WFM Liulia Cardona from Cuba.  That makes three international players for me so far.  This game I have to say that I feel like I was playing amazing.  I am sure that it wasn't perfect, but I feel like I controlled the game and just little by little gained my advantage.  I used the things that I had learned in the game before and was very happy with my play. It felt good to get a win!!  Hopefully one of many to come!!

After the game, (hopefully you all saw it) I was on Chess.com Live for about an hour and a half with David Pruess (and a little bit with Danny Rensch).  THAT WAS FUN!!!  Definitely a highlight of this tournament!  I really like David (and Danny) and it was fun to just joke around with him.  I really appreciate that even though he let me make fun of his bad game, that we ran out of time to go over my bad game (actually I know that David was being nice).  As he says, "I am not a very vengeful person."  Hopefully I will have lots more games that I would not be embarrassed to talk about on Chess Live!!

Day 5- Back on Track with Sam

Do you ever have those games where you just know that it was major hard fought on both sides and that at any minute everything could fall apart for either one of you, but you fight the battle and in the end come out not only alive but victorious?  Those are the games that make all the hours of preparation and study worth it!!

Yesterday was a GREAT day!!  I really like the 2 day/1 day schedule.  It is nice to have a day to rest in between games.  And why I am on the subject, Danny (Rensch) if you are reading this, thanks for a great tournament!  Not that I have been to any other Norm tournaments, but this is the best run tournament of any kind that I have ever been to.

Sam was very kind to even it up with me yesterday (2 wins, 2 losses, and 2 draws).  I am sure that is the only reason he lost last night, right Sam?  Okay, but Sam, how about we wipe the board with our next few opponents?

I spent the morning yesterday relaxing with my family and then we went to lunch with my mom's aunts and cousins who live around here.  When I got back, I did a little swimming and then got ready for the game.

I felt really good about the game.  It is the kind of game that I love!! 

Maybe I am a little crazy!!

Here is my round 6 game: