2013 NC Open, Round 1

2013 NC Open, Round 1

Sep 8, 2013, 8:30 PM |

As usual, I was really looking forward to this tournament.  With work and family obligations, I don't get to play as much as I used to so I do try to make the most of the times I am able to play.  Although I generally play for fun now, I was feeling very nervous heading into this one.  I pushed my rating to a personal best (1813) at the Big Enchilada a few months ago.  This was my 2nd time breaking 1800, but unfortunately, my last attempt didn't go so well.  It was so bad, in fact, that I don't think I even carried the 1800 to a supplement.  I ended up dropping massive rating points within the next few months falling all the way back below 1750 eventually.  I've spent the years after my hiatus slowly building back up to 1800.  So far, a very slow and consistent climb.  In this tournament, my primary goal was to keep moving forward rating wise.

This weekend, though, would have very different plans for me, LOL!  No, this tournament very quickly became a test to see if I could simply maintain what I've worked so hard to earn in the face of great adversity.  That challenge would come in the face of several very energetic, and very underrated scholastic players.  I've been on the other side of this myself when I was coming up through the classes and understood, even then, how the problem of players outgrowing their ratings is to the higher rated player.  Well...this year in our section (under 2000), there were more than a few of these young upstarts looking to make an example of us older, higher rated players and to steal our points.  Unfortunately, I don't really know of any way for an ELO system to account for the problem of players who improve at such a fast rate.  The bonus point system and reduced k-factor helps a bit, but I have resolved that this is just part of being where I'm at now.

On the flip side of that, the times that I did get to play someone within the section's point range, it ended up being players who were also playing very well and while we had close matches, I would end up falling short.  Both of those players entered the tournament rated in the 1990s and ended up tied for 2nd with 4 points, jumping over 2000 in the process.

I actually consider myself fortunate enough to have, largely, avoided scholastic players in the first 3 years since my return.  In fact, I've held very impressive results below 1800 going +20 =2 -4 since 2010.  The lowest of my four losses being to Pablo Banuelos in April 2010.  A loss, BTW, that I very violently avenged one year later at the first Enchilada.  The lowest of my draws was to a provisionally rated 1500.  I would have to rely pretty heavily on my ability to win the games I'm "supposed" to win in these later rounds.
Looking at the results of this tournament, it turns out I got one of the worst draws possible.  That's no one's fault, just the way things fell.  My 5 opponents saw an average gain of 48.6 rating points (including my final round opponent who jumped 114 points).  I'm just happy to have survived it with a .500 score.

**Round 1**

Coming into this tournament, I knew I would start in the bottom half of the field and would have to play up.  My first opponent last year was about 130 pts higher rated than me and I expected about the same this time around.  This year appeared to be no different as my first round opponent was listed on the wall chart around 1940.  Unknown to me though, that player had gained more points very recently and was actually holding a 1995 rating and he certainly showed it during this game.

I've been studying and practicing the Sicilian Dragon and this was my first attempt to play it since my VERY early days as a tournament player.  Since I really didn't know anything about opening theory back then, this was my first real serious attempt at it.  The vast majority of the games I played on chess.com leading up to this one, I faced main line play, so I was ill prepared for the Marozcy bind.  And of course, when Murphy has an open door, more often than not, he will stroll right in.  So from move 3, I was left to pretty much figure things out as I went along.  The opening was a lot like my game against Gary Maltzman at the last Enchilada where I was burning massive amounts of time and energy in the opening and he was just firing off move after move without effort.  I did manage to give a somewhat competitive game here, but ultimately, I chose the wrong plan in the middle game and once things started going south, I started missing tactics.  Either way, I was happy with how well it went with how little prep I had done for this particular line.