iExcell Bloomington-Normal Open
On Saturday I made the trip out to Bloomington, IL for my first slow tournament since 2002. At time controls of G60|5, and in an actual competition, I definitely felt like a fish out of water, seeing as how most of my play is currently online, and nothing at time controls longer than G30|0. The tournament was held at an educational center, and was a very local affair, mainly held for the kids who attended the chess club there. There were (including myself) only five adults playing, and the casual atmosphere was definitely a great way to break back in. I made plenty of dumb blunders, but I still managed to eke out two wins and a draw and get a little prize money for my efforts. I'm in England now, but when I return I intend to play in the big open tournament being held on the north shore on the 4th and 5th. Below, I have my games with annotations for review.
My first game was against a ten year old kid who wasn't particularly imaginative, but didn't make dumb mistakes--and that was more than enough to hold me off. I dropped some pawns early due to some bad calculations, then picked them back up and held the initiative for a long time before arriving (a pawn down again) in what was certainly a drawn OCB endgame. Still, I blew it, and ended up with my only loss of the day.
My next game was on the bottom board against a high school freshman. The TD had us restart the game since his king and queen were on the wrong squares and it took us two moves to figure it out, but we played the same opening anyway. I won because of what I was pretty sure was a dubious, albeit complicated sacrifice, and despite my lack of best play, his blunder sealed the game for me. This was the only one I got to review with my opponent, and our analysis confirmed those suspicions.
My third game was against another young kid, and was certainly my best game of the tournament. I debated meeting his ...e6 Sicillian with a KIA, but I'm not super practiced in those lines and so I went for my usual Yugoslav attack. Despite slightly miscalculating a big series of exchanges, I still managed to end up with a passed pawn and a clean win.
My final game was the toughest I played, and I was feeling the fatigue, especially in the endgame. Luckily for me, so was my opponent, who had driven down from Naperville to play. He missed multiple opportunites to put me away in the endgame, and so I managed to scratch out a draw. I wasn't thrilled with this game, but not losing meant I ended up with $25 and more rating points.
After the tournament I booked it on out of there and headed for home. I was pretty happy with the result, all things considered, and picked up 130 Elo points (my rating is still provisional, so I get big changes like that). I know that I need to practice my tactics and play more slow games, but also I need to work on staying focused OTB and having a solid thought process that I can rely on when I'm unsure about something. Next tournament I play is going to have even longer time controls (G90!), so I'm going to have to really get that process down pat before then!
For more, you can read the Twin Cities Chess Club tournament report! Comments are not only welcome--they are encouraged!