Breaking even in St.Louis Invitational
After my amazing success in Chicago Open, I travelled back home to St.Louis to play in the prestigious 2014 CCSCSL Invitational GM from May 28- June 1, 2014. This event was a very special one for me, as it was a closed invitational, which drastically improves your norm chances, as the pairings of the event are published a fortnight before round 1, giving you ample time to prepare for your opponents.
(Playing hall of the tournament, Photo Credits:Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St.Louis)
I was paired against America's latest GM Kayden Troff, which was a very interesting matchup, as only a day before this game, I played him in the Chicago Open with the same white pieces. This time, I decided to change my opening and went for the rare 6.Qf3 in Najdorf.
In Round 2, I was paired against GM Ben Finegold. I quite expected his opening choice, so I was not at all surprised when he played 2.Bg5!?
In Round 3, I played GM Josh Friedel, in which both sides didn't have much to play after a not so aggresive opening choice by me with white. So we agreed to a draw in 29 moves.
IM Andrey Gorovets from Belarus, was my opponent on Round 4, and there was a very interesting moment in the game.
In Round 5, I was paired against my good friend GM Denes Boros from Hungary. I had the white pieces, and I messed up a lot in the middlegame, giving Denes a huge advantage of 2 pawns in the middlegame. I continued to keep fighting and Denes started making sub optimal moves, which led to a draw in the end.
Midway through the tournament, I was placed 4th in the standings with a score of 3/5, and had already met the strongest elo rated players in the field. I was quite confident, that the second half would be a success but to my shock, it was a disaster.
In Round 6, I was paired against IM John Bartholomew, who had prepared a nice idea against my Queens Gambit Accepted, due to which, he got a very comfortable advantage out of the opening, and slowly outplayed me, to hand me my first defeat of the tournament.
In Round 7, I was pitted against IM Raja Panjwani from Canada, and he surprised me in the opening by playing 3..g6 in Ruy Lopez, but he had sadly not checked my black reportoire, as I used to play this line with black few years ago, and then kinda gave up, as white got very comfortable positions in this line. This knowledge helped me to get a very good position, and then after a long battle, I converted my edge into an advantage and won the game.
I played the eventual tournament winner and one of America's most talented junior's IM Sam Sevian in round 8, and in a very complex RuyLopez battle, I lost the thread just before the time control and lost the game
In the last round, I was paired against another talented junior IM Akshat Chandra. I was worse throughout the game, and in the end, he crashed through my defenses with a nice exchange sacrifice.
The tournament was won by Samuel Sevian, who also made an GM norm, and gained a handful of rating points. Kayden Troff and Andrey Gorovets finished 2-3 respectively, and also gained some rating points. Every other player lost few rating points, except for me, as I gained 1 rating point, for my average performance. I finished 7th in the 10 player field with a score of 4/9, which is disappointing as I was at 3/5 during the half way mark. This tournament, was a great learning experience for me, as it showed many more weaknesses in my game, which I am trying to rectify, so that I can improve as a player, and march towards my GM dream.
PS:Sorry for writing this article, a month later after the tournament. I was busy in training and playing in tournaments, because of which, I was not able to write it immediately after the tournament. You can expect my tournament experiences on NY International, DC International and World Open, very soon!!
Till then bye! and take care readers :)