Undefeated at the Boston Congress
The Boston Congress went as well as I could have hoped, as far as the quality of play I was able to sustain. It didn’t go perfectly, in terms of result. That’s mostly my fault, accepting draws in positions where only I could be better. Lacking experience at the Expert level, I didn’t push advantages to their maximum. The result is that I earned 1 win and 3 draws, while it probably should have easily been 3 wins and 1 draw --or better, since I withdrew after finding myself out of the race for first and not threatening the 2000 barrier. This was against a field of Experts (1980, 2003, 2006, and 2098).
On the bright side, I peaked at 1928. Since working with GM Nigel Davies, I have been working primarily on positional and strategic play, playing much dryer, more boring positions that require more scientific play, in a manner of speaking. I was so bad at this a few months ago that I tanked to 1792 when I began playing these types of positions in tournament games. Unlike many, who have lost faith immediately on the basis of results, I was unfazed by the plummet from 1922 to 1792, which reflected the difference between my dynamic ability vs positional ability, I stuck with GM Davies’ tigerchess.com program, building my positional sense, which puts special emphasis on pawn breaks. This paid off tremendously well, as I won and drew from the black side of the Rubinstein Variation of the French Defense, and drawing twice from the white side of the Colle. This is quite a stretch from what I used to play (Sicilian, e4, Dutch, etc.).
The only real downside of the tournament for me, as far as my play is concerned, was frittering away a pawn advantage I earned after only 8 moves of the game. It was my first OTB piece blunder of any kind in about 18 months. I gave the pawn back, and I did so in a way that left me close to positionally busted, and possibly flat out busted, in general. Even worse, I found myself having to give up an exchange, which also led to me giving a pawn on top of that. On the bright side, I got some of the highest praise for this game. “It must have been a 2400-level performance after the loss of the exchange,” one very high-rated player commented. I had small crowd forming around my board, as I fired back against the Expert possessing the equivalent of 3 pawns worth of advantage.
This is the critical position that let me back into the game. Of course, it’s easier when someone points it out to you, but my Expert opponent missed it, so it’s not all that easy to spot.
Oh well! A game that I should have been able to cruise to an ending and win ended up being a drudging fight down a lot of material. Based on how well I control the games, +4 =0 -0 easily could have been the result after 4 rounds.
All in all, the event was a success. We’ll see where things go from here, but I’m guessing I’m already well above Expert strength, and I’ll hit 2000 within a few tournaments.