My First OTB Tournament - Day 1

Sep 21, 2014, 7:57 PM |

This past weekend I decided to enter a local chess tournament and make a start on getting myself a ACF (Australia Chess Federation) rating. I was really excited to play, however was modest about my chances going in as almost everyone there had been playing tournament chess for years. Nevertheless, I needed to start somewhere so sign up I did.

I woke up several hours earlier than I needed to out of excitement (and maybe some nervousness) so had a lot of time to prepare myself. I reviewed my pet opening lines, I did some tactics to get the creative juices flowing and I packed and repacked my bag several times. Finally it was time to leave.

As the first round got underway I was surprised and a little disappointed that I had been given a bye! The arbiter said that they needed someone too because they had an odd number and that because I was without a rating, it should be me. He gave me a full point bye so technically, for likely the first time of the tournament, I was in the lead! Even so, at first I was quite disappointed that I couldn't play, however I soon realised that the tournament was a Swiss Style tournament, meaning I'd be versing someone who won their first game, perhaps giving me a chance to play against a high rated opponent. It was then that I went to the full ratings list of all 63 players to see who had the highest rating...

As this was a local tournament I was not expecting much, however what I saw blew me away - there were two players rated higher than 2400, another rated 2200+ and 5 others over 1850! Now to higher rated players and those who play in tournaments in the USA/Europe this may not be that surprising, but considering Australia probably only has 50 players above 2000, to have 2 out of the top 6 players in the country in this tournament was insane.

After mulling over these stats, and the fact that I am only rated ~1650 on (which I'm assuming is inflated compared to OTB play), I started to get super nervous. As round 1 was coming to a close I realised that there was a very high likelyhood that I'd be playing one of the IMs and while this was a great opportunity, it worried me. The second round pairings were released and I was playing against.....

A 1633 rated 12 year old, Tony Zhong. My first thought was "oh thank God!" however this quickly turned into "oh God.. I'll probably lose to him." which was not a good way to be thinking. As the arbiter (nice guy) walked past I semi-jokingly asked him about Tony and what his weaknesses were. The arbiter told me that he often got into time trouble, but otherwise was a strong little player. "Ok" I thought to myself, "I know my opening prep well and I'm a stronger Blitz player than I am standard so let's play fast-ish".

We shook hands and off we went. 

Time controls were set at 60 minutes + 10 seconds per move and before I played Bxf3 Tony had ~20 minutes left. However he spent ~15 minutes calculating lines which was why he had such little time to play out the rest of the game. Nevertheless he defended quite well, but being in that much time pressure while down in position is pretty much impossible to save without a blunder on my end (which wasn't happening when I had more than 20 minutes left to his 2-3 minutes. So the first round I played in was a big success! I defended well in my game, and I beat a 1633 player (approx. my rating on My next game was basically the polar opposite to my last being an 80 year old man named David Lovejoy - 1866.

So wow what a day 1! 2.0/2 but technically 3.0/3! I was equal first with 3-4 other people! I knew that the next day was going to be one hell of a day where I'd probably be destroyed by the top guns, however I was on top of the world and couldn't wait.

Hope you enjoyed part 1, and part 2 will be out soon. Stay tuned to see how I did agaisnt a 2435 rated IM!