The best chess day of my life (Rounds 1-3 of the Statesville Open)
I got an opportunity to take the weekend off and participate in the Statesville Open. Statesville is a great little "budget tournament" run by Mike Williams. The entry fees and hotel guest rates are lower than most tournaments, but the competitiveness is just as ferocious. Six masters played in this year's even, but there was one surprise putting in a master level performance.... little ole' class A me....
After arriving around 1:30AM Saturday morning, I got up reasonably early and decided to rescind my half-point bye to play all three rounds of Saturday's games. My first opponent has been quickly rising toward master. This game was played at G/75 D/5. This also marked the first time I had ever defeated anyone rated between 2100 and 2199, thus filling a hole in my chess resume.
So on to round two and the move onto G/100 with a 30 second increment. I love increment time controls as it allows me to better pace my play, and bank a little extra time when I get low. I got into a good rhythm and felt like I was seeing the board as well as I ever had. Even still my opponent went back and forth in the endgame as time tightened up on us. With both of us having connected passed pawns on the edge of the board, I was able to more efficiently move my pawns down, forcing him to resign.
So after scoring the fourth and fifth highest rated victories in my tournament history, I got the opportunity to face off with an even bigger challenge. My third round opponent is a FIDE Master who took a bye in round one, so he was looking to get as many points as he could. Unfortunately for him (and luckily for me) he miscalculated a sacrificial combination leaving me up an exchange and a pawn thank to a zweischenzug. he became the highest rated opponent that I've ever scored against..... much less defeated. He's also only the second FIDE titled player I've ever defeated.
Going into Sunday, I was one of only three players with perfect records, but I had used up all of my energy Saturday, and was flatter than a pancake on Sunday. I had some opportunities to play even in round four, but tied myself in knots. Round five was even worse as I did the equivalent of leaving my queen in the dryer and watched her get tossed around by my opponents' piece.
Nonetheless, the Statesville Open was by far and away my best tournament ever. My magical Saturday run carried me to a split of the under 2000 class prize and what is likely to be an all-time high rating (in the 1930-1940 range.) Also, I will be getting my fourth A-class norm and my first expert norm. I ended up with a 2246 performance rating with a plus one score against a field with an average rating of 2166.
But hey, for one day in my life at least, I can say I played chess like a master....