Labour Day Open

Sep 2, 2012, 8:21 PM |
This long weekend, I have decided to take part in the Labour Day Open in Toronto. It is my first standard time tournament since the 2010 Canadian Open where I achieved a personal best performance rating of 1846.
My first game in the U1900 section was against a solid opponent - rated in the mid-1700s. I was definitely rusty, and it showed. That said, the game was actually going okay until the blunder on move #19. I had done the analysis and determined out of two moves I was considering, Qc1 was fine and Qd2 was absolutely terrible. I had decided to play Qc1, but for some reason I put my piece down on Qd2 and even before I had written it down I knew I had messed up. I lost my Bishop, and it was not long before I lost the game too. 
Game #2 was a lot longer than Game #1, taking almost five hours to play, which approached the full time limits. That said, the game was basically over from move #31 on. Entering a rook and pawn end-game down a pawn is never pretty. Still, I actually thought I played the end-game pretty well for the next 46 moves. Unfortunately for me, my opponent showed why he was rated in the mid-1700s and did not make any mistakes in converting a winning position into a complete win. 
Having finished Saturday with 0.0 out of a possible 2.0, I was not overly happy with my results heading into Sunday's action. Unfortunately for me, I drew the last board in the Under 1900 section in Round #3, but as the favourite on that board - with the result that I was playing an Unrated player. The player had previous experience in Poland, but it was clear that he was rustier than me. Unlike my first two outings, I actually felt in control of the game for the majority of it, though the massive space advantage my opponent let me accumulate definitely helped. I was able to pull through with the victory to improve my record to 1.0 out of 3.0.
My Round 4 opposition was, once again, a higher rated player than me. This was perhaps the most interesting of my games, in that, I felt that I was ahead for most of the game - and in fact, post-game analysis shows that this was true (albeit, only very slightly). Unfortunately, I made a slight blunder on move 20 which caused my slight advantage to be erased into equality. From there, my opponent played incredibly well and was able to go into a Rook and Pawn end-game up a pawn. For those who have been following along, that was exactly the script in Game #2. There were some differences though, including the fact I was able to hold onto a passed pawn myself in the middle of the board - and it was much closer to promotion than his. In the end, we agreed to a draw at move 46. At the time, I was not sure if I had maybe left a win on the table, but I was pretty confident if my opponent played properly a draw was the right outcome. Fortunately, the computer agrees with me - a win should not be possible in the position. Makes me feel better about proposing the draw.
My Round 5 opponent was slightly stronger than my Round 4 opponent. Still, I was pretty happy with the position that I was able to get, and felt like I was winning for most of the game. I got the opening I wanted and was controlling the play. Both of us were getting low on time around move 20, with only 34 minutes on the clock for myself, and 24 minutes for my opponent. With move 30 bringing another hour of time, both of us played the next few moves quicker than we should have. Unfortunately, both of us misplayed the next four moves, giving up and then missing opportunities. In the end, I made a couple errors and threw away a winning position, but the threat of perpetual check allowed me to salvage a draw.
My sixth and final opponent was around the same as the previous two, rated 1670. I had spent a lot of time before the tournament preparing to play against the Yugoslav Attack, and it finally came up in Round #6. As a result, the first twenty-two moves were basically like Blitz - using a total of thirty two minutes of clock time for both players combined. Although I made a critical mistake in the theory - going down a pawn to my skilled opponent - I was able to play solid defense and actually get a winning position (according to Rybka analysis). Unfortunately for me - I did not recognize how to win the position, and agreed to a draw. Rybka assures me I should have won from the position. Given my opponent was in time trouble (no increment - 31 minutes on her clock, 89 minutes on mine), I probably could have played it out. Ah well.