Evanston Tri Level (03/05/2016)
Sorry for the late post...this tournament happened almost a whole week ago, but I had been sick the past couple of days and hadn't had much productivity on my end with regards to seriously analyzing games and writing blog posts during my own free time, but now that I've been recovering a bit (and since the first round of the Pittsburgh Open is kicking off in just under 13 hours!), I figured it would be a great time to warm up my chess brain while I am up at a very wee early hour of the morning.
So on Saturday, March 5, the Evanston Chess Club held one of its trimesterly (every 4 months, roughly) Tri-Level tournaments, with 4 rounds of G/40 d5 time control per game. This tournament was quite an interesting one, especially with the large presence of severely underrated high school players in my section who have grown tremendously over the course of this past IHSA chess season and were consequently able to upset many of the top-rated players in my section, including the highest rated one (a 1254) that I crushed in the 2nd round. I came out with 2.0/4 points, which doesn't seem terribly bad given the overall strength and quality of the player field, though my last game kind of felt like my worst played--as some sleepiness/end-of-day motivation dearth handed me a bunch of silly errors.
ROUND 1: I faced a 483-rated high school freshman, who plays nothing like a 483-rated player. He was able to avoid one discovered attack + fork combination tactic I once had in mind in the middle game, which is not something one would see a typical 483-rated player avoid, lol. My opponent played quite fast (almost instantaneously every move--with a few exceptions noted) throughout the whole game, but I fortunately managed to checkmate him with less than 2 minutes left on my clock, which was nice.
ROUND 2: This round, I faced the highest-rated player in my section, a 1254-rated high school junior who once previously beat me in a tournament back in December, when he was unrated. This time, we again played the same colors we were when we first played (he was white, I was black), but this time, I played the French Defense instead of responding to e4 with e5 (though I played the Tarrasch incorrectly with Bb4?! and that cost me a lot of opening tempo). Later, he ended up miscalculating his plan for launching an attack with the Greco sacrifice. He tried to sacrifice his bishop, hoping it would annihilate my kingside well enough for him to get his pieces properly into play to checkmate me quickly, but I had a solid defense mechanism and kept my queen where it was supposed to be. In the end, he got lost/sidetracked and also neglected the fact he hung a bunch of other pieces and did not castle. This later cost him the game at the end, when we were both on time pressure, and with his worse position, it made it harder for him to come up with reasonable enough moves. (He also ended up blundering both of his rooks in sudden death--one through a direct blunder and one through a fork/skewer--don't remember which.)
ROUND 3: Here, I faced the undefeated player of the section (who remained undefeated for the whole tournament!), an underrated 870-rated high school freshman who has a 1400 Dutch chess federation rating. I managed to get his position jacked up by closing up his bishop/queen long diagonal with my pawn chain pointing towards his kingside, and was attempting to go for a kingside attack with queen + rooks + knights, but then I got really low on time at the end and got too hung up on trying to defend a queenside pawn, which consequently resulted in my major pieces being in bad spots on the edge of the board. Then I blundered a ton in the end when reaching under 1 minute left on my clock....and eventually got checkmated on the edge of the board by my opponent's rook and king.
ROUND 4: Hoping to get a somewhat less stressful game after that super exhausting third round loss, I again got paired against another severely underrated player, the older (and stronger) 394-rated college brother of my first round opponent, who went 3.0/4 in the tournament! He played one of the rarest openings with 1. b3 (Larsen's Opening). I was not very familiar with this opening (but if anyone has any general/specific tips on how to properly handle this, or a similar one like the Polish Opening or Grob's Attack--feel free to comment!), so I tried to stay focused on positioning pawns properly and making sure that White's fianchettoed dark-squared queenside bishop did not have a chance to control a vastly open, powerful main diagonal. I also kinda handled the middle game rather foolishly--blundering 2 pawns and getting a knight trapped thanks to recklessly maneuvering it in my opponent's territory without protection/support, so it was left hanging and thus trapped by the way my opponent's pawns were positioned.