Clear 1st in Baltimore Open U2100

Clear 1st in Baltimore Open U2100

NM blitzcopter

It took forever, but I finally won some good money (as in top prize in a large-ish weekend Swiss; I know World Opens pay 100x more). Almost all of my previous winnings are class prizes from local tournaments or tail-end splits, and I kind of gave up the dream when I decided to just play Open sections. But having recently fallen back into the <2100 club, I decided to give it one last try in case I wasn't doomed to being embarrassed by 1800-rated kids.

I played in the fast schedule (Rounds 1-2 G/45+inc/30, Rounds 3-5 40/90 SD/30 inc/30) and went 4.5/5 for clear first. Overall the accommodations were pretty good and it made for a good U.S. Amateur Team East warmup. It was also an interesting throwback to my 1900 days, but I have learned a lot since then and it showed in a lot of the critical moments. The clearest example was the losing ending I defended in Round 3 (seemingly forever while down an hour of time) that I don't think I would have contested as seriously 2-3 years ago. More than any other group I've observed, 1800-2100 sections seem to favor who avoids blundering in the wrong moments (and not necessarily the least). I still don't get it.

Sidenote: so many kids! I was told there would be lots of old people (I think those were the 2000s who dropped off the map in Rounds 3-4), but only one of my opponents was age 16+.

Here are the games:

In Round 1, I won a (very) clean pawn early but time trouble made matters much more interesting than it should have. My opponent actually had a draw at one point, but alas he was low on time too and missed it.

The second round was even more embarassing as I was apparently -7 at one point. Some of these Caro-Kann lines are the stuff of nightmares and a good example of not blindly regurgitating thematic opening ideas.
Unfortunately, my good luck had to come to an end... or did it? In the span of one game, I showed I still don't understand my own openings, then got a won position, then found myself in a lost ending with no time left. Somehow I survived move 40 and then dug myself to equality in 25 moves, ending the day tied with five others at 2.5/

Day 2 was a lot smoother because the end was near(er) and I didn't mess up! In my morning round, I had a simple if slight edge throughout, so there weren't too many surprises. The tricky part is always the conversion.

Going into the last round, three of us had 3.5/4. One of them, my opponent from Round 3, played a sketchy opening and quickly self-destructed. As for what I could control...