The Mayor's Open!
I was the 4th seed of a 10-player field in the Open division of the Mayor's Open; a chess tournament that took place in Hammond, IN on July 19th, 2014 at the Jean Sheppard Community Center. There were other scholastic divisions as well that were not USCF rated. The Open division was rated and in my opinion, unusual! Half of the field was rated 1499+ and the other half rated <700. Two players withdrew before the tournament began due to unforseen circumstances. Some of the players in the Open division were adult players who had the choice of playing there, or in the High School/Adult unrated section. Others were youth who took the opportunity to challenge themselves against stronger players (some of those youth.. or maybe all of them, also played in the same division as their coaches!).
The Open division was a 5 round Swiss with G/40, no delay. The head TD mentioned that a future event will probably be 4 rounds with the use of a 5 second delay (a few of the games were decided by the fall of a flag). The other divisions were 5 rounds, G/30 with no delay. Trophies were awarded to the Top 10 in each division - a guarantee prize for all 10 players in the Open division!
My first round was against one of those youth who bravely challenged the rest of us in the Open. At move 20, I neglected the capture of a hanging knight but result of the game was not impacted by that move. This game features a common mistake played in the Petroff Defense.
My second round is against the top-seeded player of the event. His participation was unexpected, but due to two players withdrawing (which also made it a 9-player field), he participated to make it even.
In the next game, I received some good fortune on move 18, but aside from that - I was struggling to find a plan in the middle game that I was happy with. I was afraid to let her untangle her pieces but keeping up the pressure wasn't exactly easy.
My next game was a contest several years in the making. My opponent and I know each other very well over the chessboard. Despite the continuous sparring over the 64 squares (battles that have made my opponent much stronger as time passes!), we have never met in a USCF rated game!
To hype it up even more, David had just defeated the top 2 seeds (rated 1885 and 1886) in succession. He wanted to keep his winning streak alive. I wanted a victory against someone near my rating level (I was playing to improve my rating). No draw offer ever occurred.
The next round began immediately after the previous game ended (there was a time limit on the whole chess tournament: everyone out of the building by 4:30!). I was expecting to play another player instead of the gentleman I ended up playing (this is probably due to the 10 player turnout with 5 rounds). Midway through the game, I felt myself becoming very fatigued - as if I couldn't see simple combinations. I was promoting/rejecting ideas based on instinct more than calculation (and continuously changing my mind!). I don't want to discredit my opponent though - From the moment I castled onward, I was completely outplayed!
After posting these games (and the following surprise!), I realized that White wins EVERY GAME in this blog!
One week ago, I participated in a Grandmaster Simul against GM Dmitry Gurevich. Unfortunately, only 5 players attended the simul. At the suggestion of Mr. Gurevich, we instead played a clock simul of G/45 + 30 second increment. If a game was decided too quickly, he offered another game with the remaining time, colors reversed. My game was the final one to finish out of everyone, so we did not have time to begin another game. Dmitry went 8-0 against the five of us! Here is how I fared:
Going back to the Mayor's Open, I want to thank Jeff Spitler and Cindy Murphy for running and organizing an excellent event! I will certainly be looking forward for more in the future! For me personally, it's nice to be able to play in my hometown. There are a few chess clubs in northwest Indiana, but I belive this is my first time playing a rated tournament in Lake County, IN! I don't mind traveling for chess tournaments (usually throughout the Chicagoland area) but not having to make a trip was very relaxing for me. I certainly encourage more USCF rated chess in northwest Indiana and that players of all strengths come out and help bring the events to life!