My Lord I am rusty, but... that doesn't mean I can't win.
It's been a while since I've written a blog, and a lot has changed. My last blog post was about breaking the 2000 barrier, and this new one is on rustyness. (http://www.chess.com/blog/SuperJudenSauce/my-best-israel-games-breaking-the-2000-barrier).
In truth, since breaking 2000 in Israel, I haven't engaged in much tournament play. My chess has mainly been limited to blitz/rapid play with friends as well as teaching begginers. Naturually, I was starting to see my results slip. I had already lost 200 points or so on ICC tactical eye was waning. Because of that I decided I had to enter a standard tournament or risk a permanent decline in my chess abilities.
Luckily, I found a tournament in Orlando that met all of my needs. Not only was the tournament relatively cheap and close by, the time control was 2 hours with a delay of 5 seconds. Even more lucky for me is that my American rating is a good 300 points below my Isareli one, so I didn't have to delve into high level play right away. I was able to play in the U2000 section so I could get my pants back on.
Despite all of this, I will still a bit worried. I wanted to perform well, and I didn't think I would. Luckily, a friend of mine stepped in and gave me some advice "just play slower" he said. As simple as that sounds, it was actually extremely useful advice. Although I was in time pressure almost every game, the extra time allowed me to avoid blunders and I actually performed at a decent level and gained some rating points. With this tournament I started to close the gap between my two ratings.
So, for the first round, I got paired against a 1905 rated player who while young is pretty good and studies alot. I knew a little about him and his style, so I was prepared and got into a familiar Saemisch position and ended up with a draw. I missed several winning chances, and in the end pulled off some end game tricks to ensure equality. My thoughts about the game are included.
So, with this game, I was off to a good start. Other than the time trouble and allowing the break of the pin I didn't commit any agregious blunders. I got a draw against a good player and managed to restore a little confidence in myself.
For the next round however, I was not so lucky. For round 2 I arrived about 30 minutes late due to some early morning complications. As a result my already slow play was compounded with time pressure. I played a decent game, but I decided to rush one move to try and regain my lost time, but as a result I had to suffer for a bad choice the whole game. If nothing else, this game demonstrates why every move counts and how a misplaced piece and can be lethal.
So that game was a bit of a disappointment, and I was off to a bad start with only .5/2 points. But there were three rounds left, and as the title implies you shouldn't count me out yet. After this game I still had three more rounds to play and since I didn't do to well so far they should be easier.
Next on the agenda was a relativly weak player a 1668. I was white and chose to go into the Carlsbad QGD I like it because it gives white good winning chances without creating weaknesses as well as a slight domination of the central squares.
So, I managed to take home my first full point. Here. The game wasn't too difficult. I made a few mistakes which I attribute to rustyness such as playing bg3 before h3. But other than that, I think superior positional play and devlopment led to a solid victory here.
After this game I finally got some sleep and moved into the next round on the tournament. Here I faced another 16- something rated player. I was basically equal for most of the game, but an endgame inaccuracy allowed me to rapidly improve my position and strap down a win.
Now I was moving into the last round. Here I had 2 and a half points. I was a bit behind the top people, but with a win and a couple of draws in the right places I was going to be able to catch the top of the pack. Could I do it? I think so!
For my last game I was paired against another 1600 player named Tyler. He was from out of town, and seemed to be different stylistically from the other players. He was intent on attacking my position, but it was premature and much like the game against Jackie Liu his weak light squares on the king sides began to slowly break his position. Because of the weak nature of his play, I let my guard down and almost let him escape with a draw. Fortunatly for me, he didn't see the entire combination and so I regained my +4 to 5 point advantage and won the game.
With the exception of the horrible move rxf5 I played a good game. I managed to snag a pawn, and totally dominate the center and queenside and eventually win. Like most of my other games, I was never in danger of losing, but a strong end game finish was required.
After this I checked the scores and realized I had won 1st place U1800 and tied for Second U2000. Not too shabby. On review I could tell I didn't play as good as I did during my peak, but some of my skills were coming back. I managed to win a few hundred dollars and bump myself over 1800 too. But my journey isn't over here, I just finished playing in another stronger tournament, and had even better results. I'll post them up soon.
In the mean time thought, I leave you with this. Just because you're rusty and might slip up doesn't meany ou can't win. In this tournament I managed to only lose overall to one player and only lost one game. Although I struggled time wise in nearly all of my games the extra thoughts helped me secure some wins from even positions. Like my other blog I focused a lot on my endgames, but I help this blog assits any reader in devloping their chess skills and overcoming rustyness.