The Other Tal Memorial
Many aspiring young chess masters dream of being invited to the Tal Memorial tournament. Well, I won't receive one of those invites but I did get a chance early last month to play in The Other Tal Memorial tournament held in DeKalb, Illinois. The G60 + 5 sec tournament had 39 players in four sections. I was the top seed in the reserve section with 10 other players.
My round one opponent was Don Reyes, a retired gentleman who plays regularly at the DeKalb Chess Club and this was our first game together. Heading into this first round, I was ready to play aggressively and to seek complicated positions where I could lean on my recent Seven Circles tactics training.
Score: +1 -0 =0
In round two of the tournament, I was paired against a talented young man, about nine years old, who also had an older brother playing in the top section. When I introduced myself with an outstretched hand, the only greeting I received was, "What is your rating?", to the horror of his father standing nearby.
Score: +2 -0 =0
Two games down and only two more to go in order to lock up my first ever sole OTB tournament win. In this game I was paired up with Jonathan Gaenzle, a young man in his early twenties.
I played, and lost to, Jonathan over the summer when he was rated 120 points higher than me. In that game he beat me in a king and multiple pawn endgame because his king was able to get a more centralized position. I was determined to win at all costs this time around.
Score: +3 -0 =0
It is the final round of the tournament and I am in sole first place. Who would have thought I would be in a position to win The (Other)Tal Memorial? Well, the reserve section title is now within my grasp!
My final round pairing is against another 40-ish adult player, Ed Powers, who is +2 -0 =1 so far and who only needs a draw to tie me for the title. So I'm going in to this final round looking for a win to put me ahead of Ed and the board two competitors.
Score: +4 -0 =0
There you have it! White resigns and I win the reserve section of The 2014 Other Tal Memorial in the chess epicenter of DeKalb, Illinois. My rating went from 1438 to 1547 after this tournament (and I had an extra $60 on my drive home).