Back in action.... (pt. one)
Since I've started coaching on Saturdays I've curtailed my involvement in tournaments quite a bit. In fact since the North Carolina Open on Labor Day, the only rated games I've played were in the Triangle Chess League on Thursday nights. League play was a struggle as I went 6+0=6- despite being the top rated player to start the league. My rating plunged from my all time high of 1966 to an even 1900 as a result of my struggles.
With no classes to teach on Thankgiving weekend though I took the opportunity to play in Victor Beaman's new REACT (Really Exciting Action Chess Tournament) series. The REACTs are a series of 5-SS G/30 tournaments that are true opens. In other words, there is only one section housing all of the players. I generally enjoy these events because of the wide range of challenges players face. But the faster time controls have been a source of consternation for me in recent years. (I am 5+0=4- with only one of those games coming against a player rated below 2100 in G/90 or slower time controls this year, but have been stung with several upset losses once the pace picks up.)
I ended up getting paired with a youngster from Wilmington in round one. It's always a little scary playing someone as young as he is especially when he plays an aggressive opening such as the Budapest. I decided to play it cool though and just play for positional edges rather than mix it up in a slugfest.
Round two would certainly see a step up in competition as I was paired against FIDE Master Robin Cunningham. I drew with Robin in our last meeting in one of the Master Treks this summer so I had some confidence coming in. In fact, I roared ahead in the opening and had two great bishops along with a lot of potential on the h-file for my rooks. Instead I tried to push in the center and left holes in my position.
This ended an undefeated streak for me against FIDE Masters that started in Irvine at the US Open in 2010.... OK, that was only three games (2+1=0-), but considering the good positions I've been getting against strong player, I feel I'm slowly getting close to breaking through into the expert class. I will post my other two games from REACT III at a later date. Time to revel in another Carolina Hurricanes win.