Going for a Title: Chapter 7 "The First Step"
I normally have no issue sleeping any time, anywhere. However, the night before my first tournament I had difficulty finding rest. Openings, advice from my coach, and the thought that "if I blow this, I'll have to blog about it!" all ran through my head. Once I did get to sleep, 5am came rather quick. After a good breakfast and some coffee, I was ready for the 90 minute drive to the tournament.
I was the first to arrive at the tournament. Perhaps it was nervous energy or my habit of being overly punctual, but I spent the time standing outside of the tournament going over tactics in my chess.com app. Once I was greeted and welcomed in, I was pleased to see gorgeous House of Staunton chess sets, very nice DGT clocks, and a large screen TV streaming the chess.com Isle of Man coverage. When my competition arrived, I felt an excited energy to be sharing a mutual love of this game with other players in person.
Playing on these regulation House of Staunton sets was both inspiring and a real pleasure.
The tournament director posted the match up sheet and all the players converged to see their first opponent. My first opponent was a local legend with a rating of 1513, while next to my name was "unrated." While I took in this information, I also noted that I was the only unrated player. There were two players over 2000 as well. I sat down across from my opponent and adjusted my pieces. We checked the clock, shook hands, and the following ensued.
I made many, many mistakes in the game. I must admit I was intimidated with my first opponent over the board. Although I had a balanced opening, I got away from the basics and handed my opponent a comfortable win. My second match was against a roughly 1100 rated opponent. I noted that he was quite uncomfortable on time, so I played a slow and methodical game. I did eventually win on time.
My third match was against an opponent rated 2060. I will admit that I botched this game out of intimidation. I handed away my Queen on move 8 and eventually resigned on only the 23rd move. My last match of the day was against the strongest opponent in the field, rated at 2084. I took a breather between the last round and this one to go to the other room and go over my matches on some sets they had out. Although I was confident my opponent would win, I wanted to give a strong fight and have a good round I can learn from. While a fun match, my opponent did checkmate me at move 26.
When the tournament was over, we all discussed our moves both good and bad. I also had the opportunity to go over the first match with my opponent and another strong player. I have had a month to digest these games and have reviewed them with my coach and some chess.com friends. To conclude, I LOVED the experience! The energy, the comradery, and the fun was immense. I look forward to my next tournament and can honestly say I learned so much from this experience. All said and done, I received a preliminary score of 1291. I feel this is a good start, and for my first tournament and considering the field that I was up against, I am on the right track.
Thank you to my coach, Mike, Danny Rensch, Sam Copeland, Carsten Hansen, Freddy, Isaac Steincamp, and everyone else who helped me prepare for my first tournament.