"The Heart of a Lion"- My 1st Norm Tournament Part 2
I am finally back home and back to blogging. It seemed like such a great idea to take you all with me on my long road trip and update my (last) blog every day, but that requires having something to type on. It seemed so easy when you have your own netbook to take with you... unless... it is in a different state than you are. That makes it just a little hard. I am sorry for all of you checking back diligently for my daily updates that weren't there. I am sure some of you heard that we thought our netbook had been stolen. It wasn't, but we didn't find out about it until we already had left Arizona.
So here you go from where I left off:
Day 6-Playing the IMs
I started out the day by playing IM Dionisio Aldama. He was so kind to let me dominate from wire to wire, end to end. Just kidding... but it was a great win. About that time everybody was talking about an IM norm for me and I was so close I could taste it, but IM David Pruess decided to feed me a loss which by the way doesn't taste so good. After my loss against David Pruess there was no way I could get my norm. And even though everybody else was talking about my norm chances I was banned by my coach GM Melik Khachiyan from thinking about it at all.
Day 7- Last Game of Everybody
My last game of the tournament, I got a FM in his provisional’s, Nenad Ristovic. He had started off kindof rough in the tournament but was on a major role with 3 wins in a row. It went 6 hours (maybe more) and by the end we had almost everybody watching us because they were all there for the closing ceremony. I unfortunately lost, putting me out of the money ($300.00 ouch!).
The closing ceremony was great and the food that they gave us throughout was wonderful! I liked the last day food the best, big sandwiches with potato chips and some other things. It was also fun to watch the silent auction afterwards in which Robby Adamson and John Gurczak must have hit their heads hard before they started bidding. And a big thanks to Danny Rensch and Jon Haskel for making this event possible!
Day 8-Traveling and Some Blitz
We left early the next morning for what was suppose to be a 5 1/2 hour trip. We had to get my grandma to the airport in Nevada by 2:30 so she could fly back to Utah. Unfortunately, we got stopped at Hoover Dam for a long time and at one point people were standing in the road out of their cars. By the time we got to Nevada my grandma had missed her flight and we were all pretty exhausted. My grandma got another flight but not until 8:30 that night.
That night was the G/10 of the National Open. I played in it and it was a lot of fun. I got 4/6 and $70 and (how many times can I use "and"?) I only lost to the 2 GMs I played. Not too bad after a day of traveling!
Day 9-Start of Tournament 3
First round of the National Open I got IM Irina Krush. I was hoping she wouldn't live up to her name and "krush" me (I wonder how many times she has heard that one?). At least Khachiyan liked my game or at least he liked the beginning and middle of it. The end wasn't so good. I got in time trouble and ended up losing. Time trouble? People always ask me how I can possibly play 6 hour games. Now this one only went 4 hours, but I was sure wishing I had at least a couple more!!
Second round I played a 1800 and got into a more complicated position then I should have. We were both nervous (he was after all over 400 points under my rating and I really needed the win), but at least I tried not to show it. I just watched him and told myself if I don't want to show it just don't do what he is doing, because it wasn't hard to tell he was nervous. It was complicated and because of that I had to be VERY careful, but thankfully I was able to pull out a win.
Day 10-Starting to Feel It
My first game on this day wasn't way challenging. My 2280 opponent and I got in to an Alapin line (that's how you spell it right?) that (as he said) was a draw as long as both players are careful for the other one's tricks. But I did think I might have been better going in to the endgame, but by the end it was a clear draw.
Second game that day was another 6-hour game and it started at 6:00 PM which means my game went to 12:00 AM. I think I might have messed up in the opening, but it seemed to be okay for me. My opponent sacrificed the exchange and it seemed okay for me at first but I got into some trouble because I hadn't castled (don't let my mom read this! She hates it when I don't castle). I ended up giving the exchange back and we got into a endgame where we both had Queens, but he was up a pawn. It seemed pretty drawish and probably was but he forced me to play it out until 12:00 AM in which I was so tired because of coming from Copper State, traveling, and it was really late at night that I could hardly even think straight. I made some mistakes in the endgame and ended up losing the game. I was really tired that night especially since we were staying at a house that was about 20 minutes away so I didn't get to bed until sometime after 1:00 am.
Day 11-Ending the Trip with Luck and Skill
First game of the last day I was still feeling really tired from not just the last night but the whole trip. Oh, and if you are asking about the title, it doesn't have to do with the tournament, it is just what I had for breakfast that morning. Don't worry it tasted great! Try it sometime.
My first round (that day) opponent was rated around 2100 and I got the pep talk from my mom to help me prepare. Khachiyan didn't know anything about him so he just told me to go play my best. He played something I was comfortable playing against, and I played this move that seemed to be pretty good (that may have been my overtired brain thinking). He got some pressure on me and I played this move that I saw he could sacrifice his Rook but I still thought I was okay. Unfortunately it wasn't okay for me! I went down a Queen for a Rook and a Bishop after he played this really good move which forced me to either give him the game or give him my queen. I didn't know this at the time, but at that point Khachiyan told my mom that I was absolutely exhausted and she should consider taking me out for the last round.
I knew I was losing but I was able to get some counterplay, and he gave back the Queen for the Rook and Bishop. I was still losing, though I had counterplay. I had a Rook and a Knight with pawns he had a Rook and a Bishop with pawns. He got three passed pawns pushed half way, while I only had two passed pawns close to their starting positions. I got my Rook and Knight behind his pawns and attacking his King but I felt like resigning because it seemed like he could just bring his King over when I was checking him to help his pawns and it seemed pretty hopeless for me. But he brought it down to take one of my pawns. I thought this was a bad idea for him. He still had the win but I had a lot more threats against his King. I had winning chances but they seemed very slim, draw was more likely. He seemed like he had the win as long as he was careful. I thought I was lost but I saw one more trick that was probably my last chance. And my heart pounded as I saw him reach for the pawn that if he pushed he would block his only defense against my mating threat. I felt a little bad for him as he moved the pawn and it was game over for what should have been the winning side.
After the game (the real reason for the title), Melik Khachiyan said I was a fighter and that I have "The Heart Of A Lion" (I actually had cereal for breakfast that morning).
Last game of the tournament. I was playing FM Gregg Small (he is not small he is actually very tall). He is rated about 2260. I was white and Khachiyan and I had a good plan for what I should play against him. Before the game, my mom told me that all I had to do was focus on this one last game. She said not think about it being the 15th tournament game, but just one game and then it was all done. She told me to go give it everything I had for this last game. We traded down to two Rooks and two pieces a little quick then traded off another piece. It was a slow advancing endgame but I was at least better. I had pushed my Kingside pawns and he was tied down and not progressing. He went to the bathroom and I think he found out then that the LA Lakers lost and was upset because of it. He came back to the board and actually tried to progress by breaking open the Queenside. I threatened a pawn he protected with one of his Rooks and it was game over for him after I took advantage of a pin he had on his King and Rook.
I ended up with 3.5 and gained an incredible amount of 4 points.
I got three books from the chess store using the four certificates I got from the tournament (two of them came from Bryan, a chess.com member (Jeeniouschess), who I would like to thank very much!) Side Note: Everybody who scores 3.5 or more in the tournament gets two $25 dollar certificates to the chess store at the tournament.
All in all, it was a good trip! I went up in rating in all of my tournaments. I played some great players and I learned some things about myself. Thanks to everyone who made these events possible: Copper State International, National Open G/10, and the National Open.
Here is my last round game with FM Gregg Small: