Philly Open Day 4
At the beginning of the fourth and final day of the Philadelphia Open I was enjoying my one game winning streak started the previous evening and looking to close out the tournament with two final wins against my underdog opponents. If I could pull that off, I would walk away with a respectable 4 of 7 points.
In the swiss system, one of the advantages of losing in earlier rounds is that you competition gets easier in the later rounds. I needed a dose of that medicine.
- In this type of late middle game with an extra pawn or two but queens and rooks on the board, it is vital to keep your king safe from counter-attacks, centralize your heavy pieces to strike at the opponent's king, and as a backup plan, advance your passed pawn(s). Only by putting attacking pressure on the opponent's king can you come up with those opportunities to advance the pawn. Otherwise, the opponent's heavy pieces will block the pawns too easily.
- When a queen is blocking your passed pawn, get your rook up to the file ahead of the pawn, protected by the pawn, to push the queen off. In this way you can continue to advance the pawn.
- Look for those simplifying opportunities that will give you a winning endgame.
Though my hopes of blowing well into Class B and putting some big prize money in my piggy bank didn't come to be, I enjoyed my first big "away" tournament. I enjoyed four days of immersive chess, met a few new chess friends and was able to watch players like GM Gata Kamsky battle for the top spot in the open section.