The Ultimate Training Center 1st Daily Tournament - Round 3
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The Ultimate Training Center 1st Daily Tournament - Round 3


    Tuesday, late in the evening, writing this intro, struggling a bit to get used to the weekly schedule - three weeks without blogging means that I have to work to get back into the swing of things. At least I now know what my first real post since getting back from my vacation will be.

    Just minutes ago I was preparing to write a post requested by @dubbler on how to annotate games. Then I realized that I don't really know anything about the topic. It's not like my psychological series, where my experience playing at the class level counts for a lot. When you're annotating games, knowledge is everything.

    That's why, as of right now, I'm offering that post to an classy, experienced master-strength blogger who knows a thing or two about analyzing and annotating games. This post is yours if you want it, @JMurakami. There is no one better to write it.

    I'll write about my Daily Chess instead this week: after all, I just advanced another round in one of the most thrilling and challenging tournaments I've ever played.

    I love Daily Chess. Despite the slow pace of the games and the problems almost everyone has really taking them seriously, everything is made up for by the fact that every single game is a good game. In terms of sheer depth, not much comes close. In Daily Chess, assumptions, fear and missed tactics mostly disappear, and that creates a heavenly chess atmosphere for me.

    That's why I'm so glad to be writing this post: in here, you'll see some of the best and nicest games I play on a semi-regular basis.

    First the round. Besides the fact that I only started blogging in the middle of Round 3, Round 3 was the first round I really took seriously, and the first round I knew I was a contender. Round 3 was where, for the first time, I was fighting an uphill battle, and it's also the first round which I was at my present strength for. But most importantly, Round 3 had the best chess so far, and by a lot.

    I'll show you the games in chronological order.

    I love playing against stronger opponents. When you're playing a weaker opponent OTB, you think of them as weak and believe you should be able to beat them fairly easily. That's one of the things that really bugs me about OTB chess where I live: there are just too many 1000-1400 strength kids.

    When you're playing a stronger opponent, none of that is on the table. Chess psychology is thrown away and replaced with a raw, hungry desire to rob your opponent of the point so that they'll never feel at ease on the other side of the table again.  

    That's why this first game was such a great motivator for me. I have my fair share of scalps, and seeing this happen in Daily Chess made me feel more comfortable the whole way through: I had a point and a pretty victory over an 1800, and in a pool of three, that counts for a lot.

    After some mutual blunders in a sideline of the Queen's Indian, I gained an edge as Black after it all balanced out, then outplayed my opponent with both nice strategic ideas and cute tactics.

    As my second game developed, the feel-good vibe continued: there are few better places to be than with a point in your pocket and a mostly clean extra pawn versus a 2000. But alas, it was not to last. In this game, I grabbed an extra pawn, chopped quite a bit of wood and just when it looked like I had consolidated, I missed my only chance to free my position with ... b5 and lost quickly.
    The third game was my favourite: in an Averbakh Ruy, Black let me gain a tempo with the dubious 8... b5?!, a tempo which soon became a space advantage which lasted for the entire game. I eventually became winning as I activated my pieces, wrested the b-file from Black and even won their a-pawn, but decided to take a draw in order to advance. 
    This final game clinched a fourth-round berth, but it could have easily worked out differently: this one was a good old Saemisch KID street fight which saw misplaced greed, a remarkable Exchange sacrifice, eclectic tactics, a complex Rook ending and a lucky save. This, my other battle with the 2000 player in the pool, was a mistake-filled game, but an extremely satisfying battle in any event.
The final crosstable for my group:

    In addition to the 2000 player @Tharinda_Nimnajith who also advanced, I'm facing NM @Impractical and the 1900 player @blairfinkelstein in Round 4 in the final group of four. It's truly elite company, and I'll have to take yet another step up if I want to be competitive.

    But I believe I can make it. I'm riding a Daily rating which keeps on rising, and I'm improving with every round.

    Besides, knocking off stronger players is kind of my thing.