First place U2100 + a CM norm
Recently I entered a medium sized tournament in Coral springs called the Summer Solstice open. I had been studying some middle game improvement since that was the weakest part of my game. Specifically I had been studying how to win in positions where I already had a slight advantage of some sort. The reason I delved into this line of training was that my opening preparation is usually quite good, but I tend to see my advantage slip away. I was expecting to do well, but I wasn't expecting to score 4.5/5 against 3 2000+ rated players and not lose a single game.
The first principle I tried to understand was preventing my opponents counter play even at the cost of my own play. With this line of play I was never in a losing in any of my games. I was at times slightly worse, but those balanced positions where slow grinding is essential are my strengths so I felt comfortable.
The next principle I tried to utilize was the fast/slow difference. Some positions need you to strike quickly, while others require manuevering. Recognizing which positions are which was another crucial skill. I will allude to both ideas through out my games.
For my first game, I was paired against someone who I had played before. I don't remember the result, but he commented that I had sharply improved since our last bout and that hew as impressed. In this game, I kept the game even until the ending when I managed to snag a few pawns with positional pressure and my opponent resigned. The game with commentary is below
With my first win secured, I could breathe easy. He was only 1700 so it wasn't too difficult, however at no point did he have counter play. The only time he could capture a pawn it was poisined . There were no spectulaur moves played but just slow grinding and positional pressure. A motif that continues throughout the rest of my games.
For my next game I got paired against the highest rated 7 year old in the country, Marvin Gao. He was pretty strong for his age, but a slight opening inaccuracy cost him some tempo and eventually a rook. The game is below.
A really strong game from a 7 year old. This was the last easy game I had though as now I had to play 3 2000+ players all wanting the title.
For my next round I got paired against an Indian dude named something like Jaganish Dagrahadayae. We ended up in a sharp line of the french where Black has a massive lead in devlopment and stable king but white has a space advantage and weak king. If white can stabilize he's better, but it's not so easy. So here was my first 2000+ win of the tournament.
For my next game I got paired against a 2022 player named Lester Machado. I arrived about 30 minutes late to the tournament so I was behind most of the game, but I played very well and had a small advantage from beggining to end, and eventually ended up with a draw. My opponent chose an a6 slav which is usually combative, however, I managed to lock up the the position and keep slight pressure for the whole game.
The previous game I tried to surpress my opponent all game.I had great results, it was a draw, but I had no danger, my type of position. With that I had 3.5/4 only one player had 4 points. So I went into my next game with good chances to win. I would play Mike Lucente with a rating of 2080 he may have been top seed in the U2100 section.
That game was by far the hardest. I was worse and had to defend all game. I had to restrict his space advantage, set traps, and eventually trade the strong pawn on d5. After that the game was even, but due to greed my opponent declined my draw offer and accidentally damaged his position. As a result I won a pawn and damaged his pawn strcuture. He offered me a draw at the point, but I declined as I was winning. After winning my game the player with 4 points went onto lose. Which sent me into first place.
It was a tough tournament but I won a nice cash prize, 80 rating points and a CM norm. I hope everyone learned something and as always questions are welcome.