Last weekend we went to the first Annual Ice Harbor Scholastic Open, which was held at a waterpark resort in Dubuque. It was a fun tournament at a great (and very cheap!) venue. If Ana lost a game, she could head to the waterpark to have some fun and clear her head before having to play again. And there was a parents and friends section, so I got to play too.
My first opponent was Alexei Tivanski, who I'd played before at Prairie. That game was a draw, so I felt fairly confident playing him. I shouldn't have. Gokul told me that although he doesn't have a USCF rating, he plays at about 2200 strength. I did okay in the opening, although I lucked out that he didn't see he could pin my knight and seriously mess up my castle, starting right after I castled. My big error of the game was 19...a6, when I didn't realize he could threaten my rook on f8 with 20. Bc5, which wiped out my defense of the f7 pawn. After that, the game completely fell to pieces.
The second game was against a woman who had only just started playing chess. She informed me before the game started that I would be winning. It was, indeed, something of a slaughter, but I encouraged her to keep playing...we need more women in chess!
The third game was one of the most fun games I have ever played. I'd played Jess once before, in one of his first tournaments (I blogged about it here), and although I won that one, it was partly because he didn't know the touch-capture rule, and I knew he was a really good player. So we started playing a Giuoco Piano, and I got the bright idea to play 7. Ng5, because I love threatening the f7 pawn. That choice made for a very interesting, sharp game. The first turning point of the game came with 15. Nd2, when I didn't see that after 15...Qxg5, the 16. Nb3 discovery doesn't work because he can protect the knight on d4 with his queen. Apparently I have trouble thinking two moves ahead. But he gave me an opportunity by not recapturing when I played 19. Bxh6, which allowed me to get my rook on the g-file and wreak some havoc. I made a mistake by not remembering the loose bishop on move 24; I could have evened the material at that point. I was too focused on my attack...but the attack ended up working, despite another mistake with 29. Rxh7+ instead of 29. Rxa7+. My mate threat with 34. Rh4 allowed me to win the bishop back, finally evening the material, and even go up a pawn on 37. His offer to trade bishops with 47...Rf8 is what did him in, since I got a pawn out of it and ended up with an excellent kingside position for the endgame. After the rook trade, I just needed to get my king into a position where I could control his passed pawn, which turned out to be easier to do than I imagined. So one of my favorite games ever turned out to be a win, despite the mistakes I made. I wouldn't have minded losing this one, though, because it was so fun to play!
One good thing about my recent ratings slump is that I qualify for the U1100 adult section at the Chicago Open this weekend...I'll be sure to post those games here as well.