2016 Liberty Bell Open, Day 1: G/60 and Staying Awake

NM blitzcopter
Jan 19, 2016, 11:48 AM |

The 48th Liberty Bell Open was held in Philadelphia over MLK weekend. Like almost everyone else I knew, I played in the 3-day schedule (b/c school), which meant two games at G/60 and five at 40/110 + SD 30.

Despite a slow start, I went 5/7 in the U2100 section, which was good enough to take back some of my entry fee. However, I'm not really feeling the whole U2100 thing and sometimes it feels like all the class players are underrated. So if I go to the Pittsburgh Open I will likely play the top section.

In the past I have had problems with playing too cautiously, mostly overprophylaxis due to phantom threats and overestimating my opponents' over-the-board insights. This time, I had to play more ambitiously (i.e. less solidly??), undoubtedly aided by my urgent tournament situation. Of course, I overcorrected and this led to some wild errors, but it was a lot of fun.

In my first game, I won an early pawn and my opponent's game fell apart after allowing a nice tactic. Notably, I got to play Bg6 with a pawn still on f7 in the spirit of another 1700 player who did that to me two months ago.

Another Zack had already warned me about my second round opponent prior to the tournament. I played the Bogo-Indian for the second time and eventually got a good position, but later messed up a move order, and after that blundered two pawns.

Fortunately, we made the switch in Round 3 to the standard CCA time control and I got an easy game against hanging pawns in the Queen's Gambit. However, I was getting tired, missed some  initial chances to win material or trade into favorable endgames, and eventually got sloppy after I did win the pawn. Fortunately, my opponent ended up messing up in a drawn R+4 vs. R+3 ending.
Not a wonderful start, but I managed to avoid disaster on the first day (like scoring 0.5/3). Unfortunately, I couldn't win any of my games with Black, leaving me out of the big money, but I did score 5/7 (2100+ performance) in the end.