Beginning of chess year
Most tournaments in our city are concentrated in winter. The first months of the year (January – March) is the only opportunity for me to play a lot of OTB chess. This year the list of tournaments was not so rich. Despite of this I played in main annual tournaments.
The new chess season started with the Federation Cup (6-8 February), which is an annual rated Swiss tournament. It was held the fourth time and I played in it for last two years. There were 23 participants.
In round 1 I got “+” because I came few minutes after the tournament started. In second round I played against a player rated 1945. It was my first OTB game this year.
Next day I was paired against a player rated 2002. He had an advantage in the opening, but I managed to counteract and won the game.
In round 4 I played with white pieces against my friend. Usually our games end in a draw, but that time I was not going to give him points. After 22 moves our game reached this position:
After great start I was the only player who had 4/4. Group of pursuers had only 3 points. In round 5 I played against another my friend rated 1961. I found “genius” attacking plan, but he made a few good moves and his position became strong. I had nothing better to do than offer him a draw which he accepted. So, after 5 rounds I kept the lead.
In round 6 I played against CM rated 2104, who won the event. Knowing that he plays 1…d6 and 2...e5 against d4-c4 or e4-d4 moves I decided to transpose the game into Kings Gambit by playing 1.e4 d6 2.f4 e5 3.Nf3. But I played a very aggressive line, made a mistake and lost the game on move 13. On first 10 moves we spent 80 minutes…
Next day I played with black pieces against 2294 player, who completed his master norm one month before. He played unusual opening line and I quickly made a mistake. After few good moves he won the game.
In round 8 I played with white pieces against 12 year-old girl rated 2009. Position was double-edged. After exchanging queen sacrifice I got strategically winning position and the game ended in my favor.
My game in the final round finished with a scandal. I played with black pieces against CM rated 2118. My opponent had time troubles and in equal position started to lose his pawns. Having a rook and 5 pawns against his rook and 3 pawns I lost my rook. With 3 seconds on the clock, he offered a draw, but I refused it. He called a chess arbiter. The arbiter said that we could continue the game. A lot of players started to criticize him. After his next move and a few minutes of thinking I decided to accept the draw. That game wasn’t important for me.
I finished this tournament with 6/9 in clearly third position.
Next weekend I played in a very important tournament for me – ½ of region championship. I played in this tournament the 4th time in a row. There were only 18 participants. It was also annual rated Swiss tournament. 5 winners would play in a final part.
In first round I played against 1800-rated youngster. I played very solidly and got a winning position.
Can you spot how I finished this game in few moves?
In round 2 I played against the same 2294-rated “master” against whom I played last week. He played quickly and I decided to keep up with him. I made a blunder and went into the trouble. I made a few “strange” moves in order to relax him psychologically and save the game.
During his thinking on move 7 I found the only alternative against 7...Kb6
OK, great result – he is the highest rated opponent against whom I managed to draw. In the third round I played against rating favorite rated 2340, who won the tournament. In fighting games he always won against me despite I had better or equal positions. In this game I lost on time after 22(!) moves. Next month he officially became National Master…
In round 4 I played with white pieces against my friend rated 1908, who is a positional player. First time for a long period I decided to play not typical game for me: early queen exchange, positional maneuvers and endgame battle. I played well and totally outplayed my opponent.
In round 5 I played against 2169-rated solid strategic player. Here is the game:
It was my first victory against 2100+ player in rated tournament.
In round 6 I was paired against the same friend as in the last-week 4th round. I realized that after winning this game I would have great opportunity to play against 3 CMs in a row. Scoring 1/3 would bring me Candidate Master title.
I was very motivated. We both played for win. I played Grunfeld and got an extra pawn in opening, but spent a lot of time. I started to play quickly and made few mistakes. I closed the position and the game became equal. I decided to trade queens, which was the fatal error and I lost the game.
In round 7 I played against 1902-rated player. He is a very uncomfortable opponent for me. We had played over 5 times in tournaments before but I did not win any game. This time I easily won in opening.
In round 8 I played against my first coach rated 2249. I lost in opening.
Last round is the most important round in every tournament, especially in this one. I was paired against 2188 CM. There was a fight for 5th place. Two players who had 5 points played against leaders. Another CM (4.5 points) who played against the master had a totally winning position, but he simply lost on time. My opponent offered me a draw on move 5 and I accepted it. I finished by sharing 6-9 places and 6th by coefficients. This result would probably give me a place in a final round because not anyone of the first fifth places would have opportunity to play there.
Both tournaments ended well for me – I had the best Buchholz and scored +14 rating pts in both of them.
Next Saturday I played in rapid championship, but there were only 14 participants. We decided to organize 13-round blitz tournament. I was going to win it, but played not so well and finished only third (9.5/13). I lost one game on time in totally winning position, one game against underdog and one dramatic game against a winner who won all (!) games.
Having 9 pts before the last round, I played for win against my second coach who was one point ahead me. In dramatic endgame I refused a draw, won on time with the only king (it was a draw).
I was disappointed by the number of participants. I checked starting list of rapid championship 2012 and saw 36 participants. In region championship 39 and 36 players were registered accordingly in 2013 and 2014. Is chess dying in our city? I believe not…