Good Games, Bad Games (Recap of my games in the 2015 Alabama Quick & Blitz Championships)
Last Saturday I participated in two USCF tournaments. The first was the Alabama Quick Chess Championship. The second was the Alabama Blitz Chess Championship. In this blog post I analyze my games from the Quick Championship and briefly recap the blitz part.
The time control for the quick championship was 25 minutes per side with a 3-second delay. There were 5 rounds.
Because of the time control, being able to calculate quickly and find a plan quickly was very, very important. I think experience played a key part in the games.
In my first game I played a 13-year-old who I have not played before. I was a little nervous at the start of the tournament, so I decided to play simply and quietly (and not use much time) and see what happened. I've not used an engine to analyze any of the games.
In that game I did not really do anything special. It was just making practical decisions based on prior experience.
The next round I was paired with an NM.
I like that game a lot, and like the way I executed the win from the winning position, but feel that I really didn't do anything special to reach the winning position.
After the game I learned that he was a USCF life master and a 7 time Alabama state champion (in classical time controls).
Next game I faced the eventual winner of the tournament, a NM I've faced before and had a score of 0.5/2 againt. I drew with him with 1. c4 and lost with 1. e4, but decided to play 1. e4 because I had some improvements ready.
A painful loss. It's especially painful because I did not have to lose that way. I don't like losing, but I prefer to lose because of good play from my opponent, not because my play was terrible. My opponent's play was excellent, but I cannot help feeling that the main reason I lost was because of my awful play.
Next round I faced another tough opponent who I have not even managed to draw with yet, the current state champion (with standard time controls). He had lost to Bill Melvin in the third round, so my hopes were raised somewhat. (BTW, there's evidence he's Carlsen disguised as a 2000 player: most people think he's invincible, but he lost in the 3rd round - and he did it by taking a poisoned pawn on a2 with his bishop!)
Another sad loss. After winning the first two games I'd hoped for more. Nevertheless, having played against the top three players, I wasn't too sad with my score; it's just that my play in the last two games were not something to brag about.
In the last round I faced an opponent I've drawn with before. I really hoped just to play better this round.
That was a very nice opening and middle game, but a bad ending. Overall I was satisfied with my tournament result. It's not terrible to score 1/3 against two NMs and the state champion, and it's not bad to score 1.5/2 against somewhat weaker opposition, but the games I lost were quite bad.
What to work on? Feel free to make suggestions, but I think I need to work on playing well and coming up with a plan (even if not the best one) when I reach the end of my preparation. I also need to be careful to calculate objectively even after I've made several mistakes.
It might seem like I'm mad at myself, but that's not really the case. I'm very happy to have defeated an NM (for the first time in a USCF quick chess game). And I gained 8 rating points. Finally, the whole tournament was very, very enjoyable.
After the quick tournament there was a 6-round blitz tournament. The time control was 8 min. per side with a 2-second delay. I don't remember all my moves, but here's what I remember of my first OTB blitz tourney:
- Black vs Sarvagna Velidandla (1228) - I played a Slav. White got an e3, d4, c4, b3 pawn structure. After some passive play from both sides I was able to get my queen and two minor pieces on White's kingside. I won an exchange and soon won more material and the game.
- White vs Douglas Strout (1675) - I played the English and he replied with 1...d5. I got an opening edge and Black got doubled c-pawns. After winning a queenside pawn I got a kingside attack and won a piece (for a few pawns). Wrongly trading into an ending a knight up for two pawns, I eventually won, but after quite a struggle.
- Black vs Stephen Adams (1989) - I played the Sicilian and White played 2. d3. Black played g6, Nc6, e6, and eventually played d7-d5-d4. White played d3, f4, c3, and caslted kingside. The game was getting very interesting and I felt both sides had chances, but I moved a rook to a guarded square. Stephen A. went on to win the tourney.
- White vs Taylor Kent (unrated, like me) - I played c4. He responded well and we reached something of a reversed Maroczy Bind position, although White did have a few extra moves. Black allowed a tactic where White won two minor pieecs for a rook. After a lot of moves White won some more material and then created a mating net around Black's king.
- Black vs Miles Melvin (1920) - I played the Caro-Kann and he played 2. c4. I mixed up the theory and was unable to recapture a pawn that Black normally recaptures. He then played some nice moves and got some tactical threats around my king, eventually resulting in that trap where the queens are facing off and a rook checks on the 1st/8th rank to deflect the queen's protection.
- Black vs Vikhram Balagee (1543) - This time he played 1. e4 and I played the Caro-Kann. A very even position was reached, but Black got a very small edge and nursed it into a bigger edge, eventually resulting in material gain.
I got 4/6. In both the quick tournament and the blitz tournament I would have won prize money if I'd have had one half point more. More incentive to improve.
The tournament was a lot of fun! :)