The Big Enchilada III, Round 1 (why I don't deserve to be 1800)
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I came into this tournament with a lot of hope. I was looking at keeping my string of cash finishes at this tournament alive and I was easily within reach of my all time high rating (1810). This year's Enchilada was far different than those of the past. Our sections had shifted from U1800 and U1400 to U1900 and U1600. I was VERY happy to see the top side move to U1900. I was coming into this tournament at 1797 and didn't want to be the "top seed" in the section. Plus, with 1800's in the field, I would have a better chance to actually gain rating points. I wasn't quite as pleased to see the Class C players get their own section, but while I wouldn't get the "easy" games, I also wouldn't have to worry about dropping massive rating points on a 300+ point upset loss/draw. In both of the previous years, I ended up facing a 1400 on Sunday who was having a great run. I did win both of those games, but once again, there's just no rating points to be gained from it. So yea, top to bottom, this was going to be a harder section, but also a more rewarding one.
Unfortunately, I did not play my best this weekend. My three wins were outright blunderfests. Two of them from both sides. I guess I can give myself credit for hanging on and making it tough for my opponents, but performances like this weekend's are a bit aggravating on a personal level. While I avoided opening study like the plague for so long, I reached a point were I really got tired of "playing from behind". So after last years Enchilada, I devoted the majority of my study to the opening with great results in the next two tournaments (the NC Open and the Bobby Fischer Memorial). I did still lose games, but I played well in those losses (all to higher rated players, BTW) and certainly felt like I had better chances in those games. For the most part, my opening play was still very solid. The problem would come in my middle game planning. Perhaps this is the next thing I need to reinforce. Anyway, there was also lots of room for tactical improvement for me.
While I did achieve all of my goals this weekend: cashing out and breaking 1800, these games make a pretty solid case as to why I really don't deserve to be Class A. I say this with a degree of humor, but I am also very serious. It seems, more often than not, this game only serves to remind me of how human all of us are...
I was very much on edge for round 1. Looking at the pre-reg list, I was just above the midpoint. The midpoint is my term for the dividing line between the top half and bottom half of the section. Where I fell on this line meant that I would either play either the highest rated or lowest rated player in the section. Quite a difference rating wise not knowing, until minutes before the game, if you are going to play an upper 1800 or low 1600. Anyway, I ended up on the top side of the midpoint and played down my first round. My first round opponent would be a rematch of the money game from the first Enchilada. Only now, he is about 200 points higher rated and clearly on the way up.