97th Knight's Quest: Redemption (of a sort)
The day after my Evanston semi-disaster, I headed out to Northbrook to play in the U1400 section of the 97th Knights Quest, run by the Renaissance Knights Chess Foundation. The tournament was primarily a scholastic one; all of my opponents were middle schoolers or younger, since the majority of those people older were playing in the open section (which I found out was available to play up into, but never mind). I played much, much better than I had done in Evanston, winning both my games with white and drawing both my games with black, for an overall score of 3.0/4, and coming 5th overall (there was a 7-way tie for third place). From a results standpoint, it's hard to ask for much more than that, but I believe that I could have walked away with at least one full point in my black games, if not won everything. Oh well. Games were G40|5, which was actually quite short and probably contributed to at least one of my draws.
My first game was the closest I came to losing. I misplayed the Slav Defense and got a cramped position riddled with pins that eventually lost me a piece. However, I was able to win it back, leaving me a rook, pawn, and knight against two knights and a bishop. I only had about eight minutes left on my clock to his sixteen however, and given the pressure I had been feeling all game and the awful loss the night before, I accepted his draw offer. Probably not the best decision, but I had three more games left to play and wanted to be in a decent state of mind going into them.
My second game I had the white pieces for, and I won fairly easily. A weird opening shook me, especially after my disaster the day before, but I focused on playing solid (if slightly passive) chess, and it served me well. Prophylaxis turned into a pawn fork and then calm technique turned into a win. I probably could have won faster than 62 moves, but I was focused on not making mistakes instead of tactical brilliance, and since my opponent was a kid, we played it out until the bitter end. The endgame starts on move 43; it's won for white without question, but I still think it was a nice piece of chess.
My third game I faced a king's gambit (!!!). I bit, then gave the pawn back straight away. White's attack never really materialized, and soon I was up a pawn or two with two connected passers. Unfortunately, I fell victim to the relatively short time controls and my opponent's quick play, and in time pressure I ended up blowing it and drawing.
My final game I was happiest about. I played the way I felt I was supposed to play, a Ruy Lopez where I was in my element. Black opened the center too soon, and I crushed him in 29 moves. I haven't done much by way of commentary, since there wasn't much I took from the game, but it was by far the best I had felt in any serious OTB game I have played, and I was really happy to end the tournament with it.