Good time of day to you, my chess friends!
Since my last blog post, I've played in two classical tournaments and have some interesting positions to share. Back in December I played in the Wisconsin Memorial, where I was the 4th seed by rating. I played quite poorly, drawing one completely winning position with a horrible endgame transition and spoiling another very good position. The former mishap came in round 2 and thus ruined my pairings for the rest of the event. I ended up playing only through round 4, skipping the final round to drive home early. In rounds 1 and 3 I managed to take care of business against lower-rated opponent's with decent endgame technique. I'll show some of the more interesting positions that came in my endgames from this event.
This first position is from my first round win.
Here's the blown win from the second round.
I managed to convert the following endgame in round 3 (the third round of Saturday).
The last round I played was round 4. Here I had a very good position out of the opening but lost control in the complications. I want to show the R + N ending (it's completely equal) because it contains some nice symmetrical motifs common to this type of ending.
I hope the readers will learn something of interest from these endgames. My endgame technique improved somewhat in my next tournament, the Tim Just Winter Open, which took place the first weekend of January. I'll make my next post about some of those games. Calculations and endgame work (practical play and theoretical knowledge of fundamental positions) are the two big areas I'm focused on at the moment. I still spend some time working on my opening repertoire, but it's not much compared to these other areas.
What are my goals for 2018? Well, as of last Chicago Open (May 2017) I had optimistically claimed that I wanted to hit 2200 by the end of 2018, but this is simply unrealistic based on time restraints (and how many events I anticipate I'll have to play to get to that point). This year, I want to play at least one classical event each month. So far I'm 1/1, and I believe I can manage this. Only by playing more and critically analyzing my games do I think I can make a lot of the necessary improvements to get to the next level. I know I can break 2100 this year, and I'd like to get as close to 2200 as possible. It will be interesting to see where I end up come December. As for training, I have lots of books I'm working through. I'm finishing work on '100 Endgames You Must Know' by Jesus De La Villa (on chessable), which I highly recommend to anyone up that wants to flesh out their theoretical endgame knowledge for tournament play. There are a variety of other books I'm working through, which I enjoy. 'My Great Predecessors' has been a joy so far, and I'm also working through Aagaard's, 'Grandmaster Preparation: Calculation.' Finally, I'm making an effort to finish 'Chess Structures: A Grandmaster Guide' this year. I'm very much looking forward to that as well. I use chessable to learn new opening lines, and I think it's a solid method (of course, I also use engines and chessbase to get a more complete understanding of lines I'm trying out. I also play many training games to get comfortable with new structures and openings). My last goal is to try to spend at least 30-60 minutes each day on chesstempo.com or with some kind of deeper calculation training. So far I'm doing well on this front. Besides chess-specific stuff, I'm also working on eating better, exercising and getting decent sleep in general.
I'll get another blog post out soon recapping my Tim Just Winter Open experience. My next classical tournament will be Amateur Team North, with maybe some smaller events in between.
Thanks for reading!