Good time of day to you my dear chess friends,
As promised in my last post on analysis in the Scandinavian, I am here to day to bring you some analysis of interesting games and positions from my games at the World Open U2000 played during the fourth of July weekend. It was a nine round tournamnt and the interesting thing (of which I was not aware until right before round 1) was that the time control for the first five games in my section (3 day) was G/30. I hate G/30. It shouldn't even be considered a classical time control, in my opinion (rapid suits it better). I've had nothing but negative experiences with this time control in the past, finding myself in extreme time control in most games. After discovering that this was the reality, I joked with my friends from Chicago that I would be lucky and content with surviving the first day (i.e. first five rounds) with a score of 3.0/5. This is exactly what happened, though in a sense I was lucky to come out of it with that score. As we have seen with my games at the Chicago Open, Class A players in the US are not generally that good at winning won games so there's always some room for luck.
I arrived at the Regency in Arlington, VA the night of the 3rd of July with my fiends Alex and Sid after driving something like 11 hours from Chicago listening to Russian music and talking about chess and how few places there are to eat food in Ohio. I got a decent amount of sleep that night and felt decent before round 1 was about to start.
And then I checked the pairings. You know, I sometimes wonder if the CCA just hates me or something. Or maybe I just have incredibly terrible luck with getting paired up against my good friend and former apartment neighbor, Sid. This tournament was the third time in less than three years that we've been paired in an early round of a fairly large tournament and neither of us were particularly pleased. But the show must go on. The game was a fairly interesting Alekhine's Defense in this system I always play (and have played maybe over 100 times in blitz and long games we used to play at the apartment) against him. It was fairly balanced throughout and I missed some early chances to calculate more accurately for a moderate advantage. We got an early exchange of queens and then he erred with ...f5 but still the position was not totally convincing for white. Then in mutual time trouble he blundered and resigned. This is just the first testament to the fact that G/30 leads to not so great games of chess (and there were plenty others in the first five rounds of this tournament).
Round 2 I again had the white pieces. This time my opponent was a younger player rated about 1850. We played a long line of Najdorf theory (6.Bg5) and then I played too quickly after my knowledge of the line ended and I immediately erred with the wrong development scheme. I later rushed into a positional idea, when simplifying first and then breaking with a4 was much stronger, which failed concretely. I thus felt forced to accept a worse endgame rather than face the attack on the a-file which white should objectively hold, but which, in terrible time trouble, I was unable to see to the end. Below I have reproduced my game up to where my notation stops.
In round 3 I played a guy in his late twenties who didn't even respond when I said hello before the game started. He seemed rather grumpy and so I didn't bother trying to make conversation. We played a very non-theoretical opening that resembled in some ways a modern benoni (which is nice because that's in my repertoire and I am familiar with the strategic ideas). I undermined the center and won a pawn, but it was risky because my king was exposed. I quickly went wrong, unable to find the precise defensive plans and found myself in a lost position. I was also in time trouble around move 15, but I continued to play natural moves and I got really luck that my opponent played quickly and terribly, eventually blundering and giving me a win. Not how I like to win a game, and I wasn't happy with my play at this point, but a win is just what I needed to keep hope alive of having a decent tournament result.
In round 4 I had another black and played a guy rated around 1980. I came to an IQP position which apparently is some sort of theory by transposition, but I equalized easily and had even a more comfortable position for most of the game. Then mutual time trouble happened, but still the endgame was dead drawn. I ended up blundering in a dead drawn engame with just a queen and pawn each on the board (I took a pawn that was defended along a diagonal by his newly promoted queen). This loss was incredibly frustrating, and even though I was angry (at my self and my opponent for rejecting a draw by three-fold repeition) I had a quick post-mortem with him.
The last round of the day I didn't even feel like playing chess because I was still fuming over the last game. My opponent, a man in his forties or fifties, showed up about 10 minutes late and started slamming down moves. We played a Scotch Gambit, and he elected the dubious line with Bb4+, blundering after c3 dxc3 bxc3 with Be7?? which loses a pieces after Qd5! Nh6 Bxh6 O-O. He played on for another 30 moves of so and finally gave in. I was happy to end the day with some luck in the opening. In this manner, I finished on 3/5 day one. I was out of contention for the largest prizes but still had aspirations to compete and finish in the top 10. I played well the following day with the longer time control, but then somehow ran out of fighting spirit in the final two rounds.
Round 6 I played against a young woman about my age, and we got an interesting position in a Caro Kann. The position was close to equal for about twenty moves and then she went for this sacrifice which gave an imbalance of three pawns for the piece. The endgame that arose was fairly complicated, but she had not so much time before time control and played inaccurately. I was able to use my extra piece to blockade the pawns and then achieved a winning position. I think it is a fairly instructive game, despite my less than perfect middlegame play.
Round 7 I got to play my favorite game of the tournament. I had the black pieces and got a Modern Benoni, Taimanov variation in which I played my favorite sideline with Nbd7. My opponent had never seen this variation and was unfamiliar with the theory and ideas and so he blundered quite quickly and I pursued an initiative against the white king which ended with mate on move 30. The game is reproduced below.
By the end of the first day of the two hour time control (day 2 for me) I had improved my score to 5/7. However, in the final day of games I drew both of my games. Round 8 was against a strong 19XX player in a classical sicilian in which I adopted an english attack but was one tempo short. My opponent was able to play d5 and I had to offer a worse ending where black had the two bishops and I was definitely under pressure. But then I was able to use a small lead in development to equalize and then I pressed for many moves until he felt compelled to give up the exchange (which was a practical choice but objectively his position should be lost). I was unable to crack his defense after blundering some intermezzo for him and offered a draw in a position that I should have been able to win. This was a sign that I was tired and did not have such a fighting spirit, a shame considering I still had chances at prize money. Feeling frustrated and saddened by this result, I quickly agreed to a draw in a Caro middlegame (again the Tal variation of the classical!) against an 1800 that I should have tried to outplay, but again I had no energy or spirit to fight on. So I ended the event with a mediocre 6/9. I was at least happy to have recovered from a terrible first day and I think I have learned some practical lessons, as well as some things about good chess (Thanks to my analysis and further preparations) from this event. It was for sure a fun trip with friends and I hope to play this event in the future. My next tournament will likely be the Midwest Class in October. Hopefully I'll have some blog posts with my training updates before then.