ChessIQ September G60
Sometimes Cassia is on your side.
On Saturday I played in a local G60|30 tournament in Skokie in the U1500 section. Through no fault of my own, I won all four of my games, and the division. My rating shot up from 1318 to 1477, and I got a better idea of what I need to work on.
My first game I played a much weaker (though I suspect underrated) player--the father of one of the other tournament entrants. We had some strange closed/rossolimo scillian which I managed to get a small advantage out of thanks to a clever pawn push (well, I thought it was clever). Even with that however, I still nearly managed to give up the draw, though I managed to simplify down to a 3p + N vs 2p + N endgame. Some concrete calculation and I won what I think was an instructive endgame.
My third game was an accelerated dragon/Maroczy Bind which, to be honest I wasn't really expecting. I should probably pay more attention to how I play against it as black. In any case, I won even despite almost getting my knight trapped--something I missed until he pointed it out in a very loud voice the moment we got back to the skittles room.
While it's true that things could have (and should have) gone much differently, the amount of excuses my opponent gave me left a bad taste in my mouth. I feel that making mistakes is part of the game at our level, and saying "oh, I would have won if I wasn't sick" is really just poor sportsmanship. Complain about it to your friends, complain about it when you get home, but I think that if you lose you should lose with grace, and I like to think that had I lost, I would have been far more graceous than he was.
I took some of those bad vibes over to the next game, along with a sore back and a lack of focus. I ended up losing the exchange, but I had good piece activity to compensate, and it wasn't long before my opponent fell to the exact same tactic I got him with--only he missed the fork where I ignored the skewer.
Perhaps not the best game to go out on, but a win is a win. I feel a rating in the 1400s is a more accurate assessment of my playing strength, and I intend to view this as the start of my improvement. I took the following things out of this tournament:
1) I need to work on organizing my thought process and on my concrete calcualtion. Too often I was surprised by moves that I had missed, or lost pieces to easily avoidable threats a few moves away.
2) I need to nail down my basic endgames. I knew my K+P vs K endgame well enough to know that getting my King to the sixth rank with opposition would win, but I very nearly drew that as well.
3) I need to be less timid about opening lines if it means I can create accessible targets to go after.
Still, I am very happy with the way things went--it never hurts to have a few wins under your belt. I hope to take those good vibes forward to my next competition!