Bobby Fischer Memorial: Round 1

Aug 25, 2015, 9:18 PM |

Last Saturday I played in my first tournament in fifteen years: the Bobby Fischer Memorial at the University of Utah. It was a five-hour drive down from Boise, but I didn't mind: it seemed fitting that I should make my return to tournament chess in the state I grew up playing in. Even though my rating "qualified" me to play in the Reserve section (U1600), I opted for the Open section so I could test myself against tougher opposition.

Due to the heavy Mormon presence in Utah, tournaments typically aren't scheduled on Sundays, which often means that a lot of chess gets crammed into a Saturday. With six rounds in one day, This tournament was no exception; the time control increased from G/30 d5 in the first round at 9:30 AM to G/72 d5 in the last round at 7 PM. I don't like playing that much chess in one day and I wanted to spend time with my family, so I requested a last-round bye.

This was a fantastically successful tournament for me. Going in, my rating was just 1543, but three wins and two losses against opponents with an average rating of over 1800 bumped me up to 1671! Normally, of course, it would be impossible to gain 128 points in a single tournament, but USCF apparently made my rating provisional again after my long absence. I finished the tournament tied for fourth, which sounds impressive until you find out that there were only nineteen players in my section. The winner scored 5.5, well ahead of the runners-up at 4, followed by six of us with 3.5. The two guys who beat me finished with the same score as I did, and my Round 1 opponent ended up tying for second place, his only other loss coming on Board 1 in the final round.

Without further ado, here's my first-round game.

I felt like I had to take a lot of risks at the end of this game without sufficient time to really think them through, so I was glad I managed to calculate correctly when it mattered most. It probably helped that I didn't know what a strong player my opponent was, as he proved by winning his next four games!