Building Steam in St. Louis and My First Visit to the Club
I am beginning to have the kind of success I think is commensurate to the time I'm putting into chess. It's still not showing quite as much in my ratings yet, but that's partly due to explainable circumstances. As soon as my recent couple USCF standard match games are rated, I'll officially be undefeated in the slow control in my last 6 games played in Florida and Texas. I'm looking to add one more to that tally this next week in Pennsylvania. This past weekend, the progress began to show in the faster controls. It was my first trip to the St. Louis Chess Club, so I'll include some pictures at the end, too.
In the blitz tournament, I finished in second out of 20, defeating NM James McLaughlin and drawing a high-rated Expert, Tony Davis (2147). I only lost 2 games out of all 11 I played on the weekend, which is really big exclamation, because my coaches have been emphatic that I need to be more consistent in my play, drawing lost games and finishing completely won games (which I've lost a lot in December). Actually, I only lost to one player, who beat me in both the blitz and the rapid. He just had my number. My overall blitz performance rating was around 1900. Here are the final standings from the blitz.
The rapid tournament would normally have been stressful for me, but I kept pyschologically tough, grinding out wins in drawn positions against much, much lower rated players. "Action" (USCF's word for rapid chess) is my worst control, an it typically sits 400 points behind my standard rating, so the deck was really loaded against me in this tournament: a bad time control for me, lots points on the line because my opponents were decently strong but low rated, and I didn't sleep much because I headed off for St. Louis at 4:00 AM and was a little tired. I finished in 4th out of 19 in the rapid, but only because I blew a won game in time trouble --I promoted a Q which I lost to a tactic, remaining up a R which I lost in an exchange, before being stuck in a drawn game with B's of opposite color... all of which happened in about 70 seconds. Good thing I've started playing bullet on chess.com! Here are the final standings from the Action championship.
My pacing tends to be off for rapid, either calculating in a sloppy "good enough" kind of way, blitzing out moves, or taking way, way too long. My timing for bullet it way better, so I'm definitely not one of those people who gets worse as the control gets faster, nor am I someone who gets better strictly as the control gets slower. I have three more rapid tournaments coming up this next week or two, the PA G/29 State Championship, the Pittsburgh Chess League Quick Quad, and a rapid tournament in Terre Haure, IN.
Of course, I can't close without some pics from St. Louis an a bit of a review. The club is excellent. If anyone rivals the Marshall in the States, it's gotta be the St. Louis Chess Club. In my opinion, if the club in St. Louis could get more activity, i.e., a tournament virtually every day, I would put the St. Louis Chess Club ahead of the Marshall. The people that work their are very professional, and the whole place has a professional feel. More importantly, the atmosphere at the club is as friendly, and maybe friendlier, than my home club in Pittsburgh. The Marshall simply can't compare in this respect. My wife, a Midwesterner, claims its the difference between regions, but I think she's partial to the Midwest. I think everyone within a day or two's drive of the club needs to come to town and check it out. A great deal of love and care has been put into the place, and they are doing great things for chess there. There is quite a bit of advocation for scholastic chess, but I also feel as though they are promoting players to remain in the game once they've moved into the older population of players --that's not something you see in other clubs. Overall, I was very happy when I left, not just for the result of consistency and 80-ish points I picked up between the two controls, but because of the wonderful chess environment that has been created in St. Louis.