Tim Just's Winter Open XXXI: Day One

Jan 6, 2014, 12:21 PM |

This weekend I played a large open tournament in Deerfield, IL, about a half-hour drive from where I live. Not a big ordeal particularly, but Chicago was in the middle of a massive blizzard, which made getting out there tricky to say the least.

This was the biggest tournament I've played since getting back to chess, with over 120 people between the open and reserve sections. It was also by far the longest time control, at G90|30. I was very not used to it, and I think it showed in my games, two of which I dropped due to obvious tactical oversights, and the other two I played passively and so got outplayed. I won neither money nor rating points, but it was a good experience nonetheless. I have now played 14 long time control games, which means I still have eleven to play before my rating becomes set. There may be another local tournament, but most likely it will have to wait until I return to Portland. 

My first game was played against the younger brother of one of the members of the University of Illinois Chess team, which is going to the Final Four or whatever the equivalent is, having upset multiple very strong teams. They'll probably get killed againsted Webster University's Team (which according to the TD who was telling us about it, has an average rating of 2730), but whatever. I played the French, he played the Tarrasch, the line I need the most work on, and I ended up with an IQP and no compensation. I didn't make any massive blunders (at least, not when I still had a fighting chance), which I was happy about--it was my lack of activity that did me in.

My second game was my only win of the tournament, and a sloppy one at that--though I could have prevented it from becoming so. One main idea for black in the Dragon is sacrificing the exchange on c3 to blow open white's queenside. I knew he was going to do it, and could have easily prevented it, but I didn't--and so forced myself to fight from the back foot from the rest of the game. An unsound sacrifice and a whole lot of kingside pressure were my saving graces, but I breathed a sigh of relief when I walked away a winner.

My third game was a real heartbreaker. My opponent was the strongest person I faced in the tournament, but he played Bird's Defense of the Ruy Lopez, and even though I'd never played against it, itallowed me to seize the initative--which I held for most of the game. However, I did allow it to slip a little bit, and then I missed a tactic which turned a slightly winning position into a dead lost one. I was furious with myself after this game, and it meant I went into day two in what was probably not the best state of mind.

 I was exhausted by the end of all this, and very not used to the time controls or the tournament setting. I certainly hadn't prepared for it very well; I brought a lot of books I wasn't going to read, had little by way of food or drink, and since I was alone without my computer I found it difficult to blow off steam between games. I will have to do a better job of preparing in the future for tournaments--not the chess so much as the setting. The last loss sent me home in a terrible state of mind, and as you will see, it carried over to day two.