A Learning Experience

Jul 14, 2008, 2:07 PM |

A "learning experience".  That's my code language for an OTB tournament in which I sucked.  This past weekend, at the Summer Solstice Open in Boca Raton, I had a wonderful learning experience.

What did I learn?

Well, firstly I learned don't drive for four hours and then play a tournament game 2 minutes after you're out from behind the wheel.

I also learned if you're GOING to make that drive, be conscious of getting a good night's sleep beforehand.  Don't go to bed at 2:30 am when you've got to arise at 5:30 am to make your first round.

With respect to chess itself, I learned how important it is when making major changes to your opening repertoire, to give yourself time to acclimate to the new middle-game strategies that arise.  Don't use your old strategies in a new framework and expect the same results.

I also learned that it's OK to be outplayed.  It happens to everyone and, even in a loss you can be satisfied if you play well.

Let's start with my first round game against FM Bruci Lopez.  Bruci is part of the contingent of strong South Florida players that I had hoped to encounter during the trip.  Unfortunately, as things went, he was the only one I would play.  But at least it was a memorable game:








Following this exciting game, which I did not feel bad about -- even though I was on the wrong side of the result -- was my game against Peter Langdon.  This game was part of a two-game storyline for me in my first trotting out of the so-called Pseudo King's Gambit.  The good news is in both games I got substantially better positions than my opponent.  The bad news is that I misplayed them both, owing chiefly to unfamiliarity with the resulting middlegame positions.

The first installment of the my misplaying costs me a bunch rating points against Peter (1919), the first lower-rated player I've lost to in a long time:








That was an instructive game, sublimely exposing the overconfidence with which I treated white' s position.  I have not yet learned how to play with positional advantages such as space, but these KGD positions require this kind of handling.  Tactics are fun, tending to white's advantages (I'm beginning to feel) require a little more finesse.   

Another example from the same tournament illustrates:


White again played this game with a touch of arrogance and disdain for the resiliance of black's position. 

But for time-consuming deep thinks taken at critical junctures in the game, black would have had enough time to press home his material and positional advantages.  This game clearly demonstrates how much work I have to do.

Unfortunately, I didn't get an opportunity to play the white side of any Sicilians, but hopefully that will come along soon enough.  1. e4 e5 never goes out of fashion, so I'm looking handling the KGD line a little more deftly.

Dropped 14 rating points, from 2101 back to 2087.  But I'm good with it.  These are lessons that need to be absorbed, nonetheless, so I'll roll up my sleeves and get down to work.  Next tourney is the Southern Open, in Orlando August 15-17th.  If you find yourself in the neighborhood, stop on in!