So now it's on to Saturday night and I know I'm going to have a heck of a fight on my hands. I got paired against a talented teenager from New York City. Of course this was a must win for me to accomplish anything out of this, so I really needed to bring out my best.
I have to admit, I played a little timidly in this game. After move 16 I had tons of opportunities to play d5 making central breaks that would have favored me. I was a little to scared that she could generate play with her passed c-pawn though. Still as it was, I was fairly even with here for most of the game. At move 19 she went through three rather long thinks (using 58 minutes of her time on these three moves.) The premature centralization of her king at that point allowed me to gained an advantage which I squandered.
I did eventually fall a bit behind positionally, but her time pressure predicament allowed me to hang in and I finally worked up the courage to play d5 after a dubious pawn sac on f5.
Eventually I managed to triple her pawns on the f-file and trap her king in the center. Eventually she got under a minute and buckled under the time pressure allowing me to score the point out of what could have been a pretty ugly endgame for me.
There is one tactical shot that I missed that would have put me ahead decisively on move 42. Can you find the shot?
It should be noted that in my last two weekend long events I am 5+0=0- on Saturdays with four of those games being against players rated 2075 or higher. But as you can see, that still requires quite a bit of luck for me to pull off.
So it's on to Sunday and a fourth round matchup with a recently christened master Steve Wang. If I could defeat Steve I would reach all of my goals...... expert, lifetime 1st category title... Just him showing up gave me my FIDE rating norm since I would FINALLY get the required three games against FIDE-rated foes.
I did a little reconnaisance on Steve to try an pin down his playing style and the answer I got was that he is a steady player who makes few mistakes, but could be prone to chaotic positions. This gave me some hope as I love mixing it up live fruits in a blender. Naturally I was going to give gime my Dutch defense.... probably a Leningrad based on the scouting report.
However, when he uncorked 2.e4 I got sick. I simply hate playing against the Staunton Gambit and did not prepare myself for it before the tournament. After a couple of positional errors on my part, he sent his knight showjumping all over my face so to speak, and made quick work of me.
All in all this wasn't the tournament I had hoped for, but I did accomplish a couple of goals and got back to my all-time high rating of 1966. With classes starting back up it's unlikely I will get to play again until after Christmas when a trip to the North American Open may be in order. After all, can I really live more than three years without a trip to Vegas?