Portland Chess Club: Spring Open

Portland Chess Club: Spring Open

Mar 12, 2014, 8:28 PM |

This past weekend, I returned to Portland Chess Club for their Spring Open Tournament. I played in the Reserve Section (U1800), and I have to say, it was by no means a big success for me. My friend Mu actually won my section (congratulations to him), and my friend Elias split the prize for the best in the Open section U2000.  I played five games at my longest time control yet, with 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, and then 30 minutes for everything else (5 second delay).


In my first game it was my turn to play the black side of a Winawer French. Unlike my game against Ethan Wu last week, I was not afraid to go into the most tactical of the lines, and for a while was actually better. However, I messed up an (ultimately winning) exchange sacrifice, and ended up down material. He offered a draw--twice, in fact--but my tournament inexperience and lack of skill in positional evaluation reared its ugly head, and I turned them down, before ultimately losing. 

My next game was played against an unrated player on the bottom board. He played the dragon, and mishandled it, letting me bust open his kingside. However, despite being unable to calculate anything concrete, I was convinced I was better, and so didn't win back the exchange--which allowed black to consolidate and win. My first loss against the Scillian in tournament play, and it was frankly very disappointing.

My third game was played against a young, unrated kid, who wasn't strong at all. He fell to what was essentially a non-threat, and I took everything and mated. I haven't bothered with commentary here; there isn't really much to say.

I started off the second day in good spirits, though pretty darn tired. I felt confident that I could win both of my upcoming games, and I went in with a "take no prisoners" mentality that could have served me well. Sure enough, I got a winning position very quickly against a Najadorf, but decided to trade down to a (still winning) rook and pawn endgame. However, I focused too much on limiting his counterplay, instead of just playing the game. I misplayed it, and he forced a draw. I felt really stupid after that game, but what can you do?
In my last game, I played Henry Buerer, who I soundly defeated last tournament. This time I had the black pieces, and I got an advance French with his LSB on the b1-h7 diagonal. Last time I had that position, I avoided playing Nf5, but this time I went for it. He traded the bishop for the knight, and then I played the f6 break too early. Some poor play by me, and I was in a lost endgame, and on the verge of resigning...until he gave away his passer! Overjoyed, I quickly converted into a draw.
I lost 30 points off my live rating, but it is no longer provisonal, so that's good I suppose. If I play no tournaments between now and April, I will have an official USCF rating of 1254. All things considered, it's not the worst starting point in the world--and I look forward to improving it in the future