Road To Master - Canadian Open

Road To Master - Canadian Open

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Hi all, welcome back to another blog post! Volume 5 of the Road To Master series.

During July 12th to the 17th I participated in the Canadian Open, the biggest annual Canadian chess tournament. There was only one section for this event, everyone was in the same one. Going into this tournament I was 2100 CFC rated and 1681 FIDE rated (My FIDE didn't update from the last tournament, previous blog for details). It was a 9 round swiss event, time control was 90 minutes for 40 moves, then 30 extra minutes once we reached the 41st move - with the additional 30 second increment starting from move 1. All ratings displayed in the games will be CFC rated, but I'll always include my opponent's FIDE ratings in the little description beforehand. 

Round 1: First GM Game

My first round opponent was GM John Fedorowicz, he was 2495 CFC rated and 2397 FIDE rated. I had the Black pieces. I wasn't too nervous coming into the game, I was just looking forward to the experience. 

Losing round 1 was tough, especially since I felt like I was doing fine most of the game. What to take away from this game? I think the important thing to learn was that sometimes in certain positions you just have to sit and do nothing. This was that kind of game where I should've just sat and asked my opponent what he was doing. Sadly I got a little impatient and make unnecessary weaknesses when I didn't have to. 

Round 2: Playing Worse Chess

This round I was playing against Shafkat Ali who was 1619 CFC rated and 1515 FIDE rated. Not the pairing I was hoping for, but there wasn't anything I could do except try to win - that's how I could play stronger players. Generally in these 1 section tournaments, you have to score well in order to play higher rated people. I had the White pieces.

A really poor quality game but I get the win. I definitely didn't deserve this win, but I guess I'll take it. The thing to take away from this game is that I have to work on my conversion skills more. Being up a clean pawn with better piece coordination shouldn't be something I struggle with in the future. 

Day 2: Better Chess?

Round 3 I was paired up against Alex Young who was 1713 CFC rated and unrated FIDE at the time of the event (after Canadian Open his rating became 1901 FIDE). I had the Black pieces. 

So now I was 1/3, something I wasn't so thrilled about. Although I lost this game due to a one move blunder at the end (something I have to work on, this happened last tournament too); I just didn't play too well throughout the game. I just based all my play on the Queenside before knowing which way my opponent was going to castle, but it was a good learning experience at the least. I'll have to figure out what to do vs the Jobava London in the future. 

Round 4: 1/4? 

This round I was paired up against Daniel Kearnan who was 1769 CFC rated and 1725 FIDE rated, I had the White pieces. You could call this game a "must-win situation" if I wanted a chance to start catching rhythm again. 

2/4! Even though I won this game I felt like I was short on ideas towards the end. It felt like a position where I didn't know how to advance, but eventually I just shoved Harry the H pawn down the board and it worked out. It was a pretty good game overall though so I was happy. 

Round 5: Good Quality Chess

This round I was paired against Jacob Gaisinsky who was 1568 CFC rated and 1147 FIDE rated. I had the Black pieces. 

A really nice game! I felt like this was my best game since round 1, I was actually satisfied with my play. Although I didn't get anything out of the opening, I slowly outplayed him in the middlegame and endgame. I guess that's what you get with the Caro-Kann, an extremely solid endgame pawn structure - I shouldn't complain too much about that.

Round 6: Catching Fire

I was paired against Joseph Buchatsky this round who was 1256 CFC rated and unrated FIDE at the time (now he's 1297 FIDE). I had the White pieces.

Another pleasant game. I did miscalculate and miss that he had the Nd6 resource to keep the game alive, but other than that I'm pretty happy with my play this game. Going into round 7 I was going to be 4/6! Things were definitely looking better after starting off 1/3.

Round 7: Giving up too early?

This round I was paired against FM Eilia Zomorrodian who was 2263 CFC rated and 2119 FIDE rated. For the first time since round 1 I was playing someone rated higher than 2000! I had the Black pieces. 

A draw! On paper it's a good result, although I should have played on for the experience. I don't get to play in OTB games weekly (yet!), so every move is valuable experience that I shouldn't take lightly. I move on to round 8 with a score of 4.5/7. 

Round 8: Preparation Gone Wrong

This round I was paired against NM Neil Doknjas who was 2262 CFC rated and 2178 FIDE rated. I had the White pieces. The night before this game I suspected that he was going to play a Queen's Gambit Declined so I prepared a little something for the game.

I prepared that Qa4+ line the night before, although I didn't review the Ba6 move he chose in the game. Mindset is everything, I was convinced that I was already worse by move 8 even though the position was fine for me. The important things to take away from this are to have a positive mindset about my position even if it looks bad, and to play what I know rather than resorting to a quick prep session.

Round 9: Heading Home

Final round! I was paired against Divjot Locham who was rated 1751 CFC and 1511 FIDE. He was having a great tournament so far, he was beating up many 2000+ rated players so I assumed he was underrated. 

Won the last round, finished 5.5/9. Overall a comfortable game, finished strong which I was happy about. 

Final Thoughts & Comments:

Yet another OTB tournament in the books, 5th one down and lots more to go. Sadly I lost some CFC points, went from 2100 to 2077 but I don't mind too much. It's a bit more complicated for FIDE, I went from 1681 to 1747 from Canadian Open, but for some reason my Mississauga performance (last blog covered that) didn't get included this time. I should've gained a bit more than 100 FIDE points from that, so I expect to be around 1850 FIDE soon. Overall this was a great tournament, I learned a lot and met lots of cool people. One thing I'm looking forward to in future tournaments is testing out some new openings I've been working on - I haven't yet because I'm too scared to try them OTB yet. Playing King's Indian, Caro, and the Queen's Pawn is getting old and gives my opponents an easy time prepping for me. I'm not sure when the next tournament will be, we will see. This blog was on the longer side so if you stuck around to the end, I appreciate you. See you all in the next blog!