March West Des Moines Youth Tournament
I was glad Ana decided to go to the West Des Moines Youth Tournament this month, because that means I get to play in the Parents & Friends Section. I hadn't played in one in a while, so I was looking forward to it.
It became clear in game 1 that Ana and I had not warmed up enough before the tournament. She drew against someone rated much lower than her, and I made some huge errors in my game, beginning when I moved my bishop to a square that was attacked twice and only defended once with 10. Be3. Down a pawn went I. Then I thought, "Oh no - he's attacking my bishop! I'd better move it!" But the bishop was defended by a pawn. I should have moved the rook he was also attacking, but silly me didn't see that one at all. So I was down a rook and a pawn for a knight. I played more solidly after that until I got the opportunity with 33. Be2 to advance my passed a-pawn. He then made a series of errors culminating in 40. Rxf4, which allowed me to capture his rook with my pawn one square away from queening. I missed a mate in one on 45, but found a mate in two, and he resigned.
In my second game, I played Kiran Pathuru, who has been a formidable opponent in the past. I was warmed up this time, and felt a little more ready to play decent chess. I went with Ana's favorite opening as black, the Petrov Defense, and felt comfortable with it since Ana plays it against me so much. The game was very even for a very long time, until I embarked upon a series of checks with 29...Rc1+ that ended with a pawn capture with 36...Nxg2+. I even got a bonus pawn with 40...Nxd4; I didn't plan that one. He won both pawns back in the next nine moves, though, so we were back to dead even. He erred with 67. f6, as it allowed me to trade pawns with him when my remaining pawn was closer to queening than his remaining pawn. I should have traded rooks with him by playing 72...Rf5+, but I was focused on protecting my pawn. His error in playing 76. Kc6 instead of 76. b5 allowed me to reach the pawn in time, and it was an easy win after that.
My third game was against Dan Troxell, who is a fairly even match for me. We played very evenly for most of the game, until 32...cxd4, which allowed me to take his rook. From that point, it wasn't difficult to get into a winning position, although his isolated passed pawn caused me some worry. The checkmate was a tortured one, though! After 43...g3, I had stopped worrying about his bishop and pawn in the corner, because I knew he was stuck over there. So I didn't consider the fact that he could move the bishop, and therefore couldn't be stalemated in the other corner. The checkmate took three more moves than it should have because I was trying to avoid a stalemate.
In the afternoon, no other parents wanted to play, so I served as the house player for the rated section, where there was an odd number of players. My first opponent was Jay Chevuru. On 10, I saw that if I took his knight, he would have forked my king and rook, so I castled instead. I would have been okay if I'd taken the knight, though: 10...Qxg5 11. Nxc7+ Ke7 12. Nxa8 Qe3+ 13. Qe2 Qxe2+ 14. Kxe2 Bg4+ 15. Kd2 Rxa8. On 18, I should have taken the knight. I thought it would be better to take the b-pawn once he moved his knight, though, as it would prepare for exd3. He managed to throw away a knight on the next move, though, and I managed to completely forget my plan involving the rook. That opened up a new opportunity for me, though, with 21...Qxg2, and it was a quick win after that, particularly since he grabbed the bait with 26. Qxb6.
My second opponent of the afternoon was Adrian Guan, who was rated considerably lower than me. I didn't treat the game too seriously, as is apparent from the loss of my queen on 27, and the fact that I missed he could take my rook on 28. Luckily, he missed it too.
My last opponent of the day was Oscar Niesen, also rated considerably lower than me. I made a few errors, but as in the last game, I had such a large advantage that it wasn't a difficult win.