UMBC Open U1800
Coming into this tournament, I was rated 1262. I wanted to play in this tournament because I knew a friend of mine was probably going to play and also because it was a relatively risk-free opportunity to gain some rating points. In fact, according to the USCF rating estimator, if I had lost all five games, I still would only have lost around forty rating points, which isn't that bad. I was looking forward to playing difficult competition- before this tournament, my highest rated win ever was only 1301. In retrospect, it may have been a bad idea to go to this tournament just because I had a big school project due that Monday which was a huge pain to work on the same weekend I had a tournament, but since I did okay on that project, I'll let the ends justify the means.
I arrived at the tournament about 70 minutes early with no idea where I was going or what I was doing, and I just ended up sitting in the lobby for about half an hour until I saw my friend Steve arrive. He hadn't registered before, so he registered on-site, and then we looked over one of his games from his previous tournament before the game. I seriously think analyzing that game was a very good thing for me, and it was a lot better than playing blitz or speed chess would have been before the start of the tournament because it got my mind in good shape. I also did something I have heard GM Igor Smirnov recommend players to do, which is to go over your best tournament games in your head before a game, giving you both visualization practice (I had the game memorized beforehand- it was my then-highest rated win) and confidence. I was then ready to go.
Steve and I went into the tournament room to find that it was tiny and cramped, and since there was only one TD for the whole tournament (three sections including the Sweet 16), we were concerned that it might be disorganized as well. There was barely room to stand in that tournament room, but I muscled my way into the crowd to see the pairings. I was playing Jordan Best, whose name I was familiar with from other scholastic events but whom I had never played before, and Steve was playing a 1000.
I had done it! My new highest-rated win- by far. I went into the Skittles room with a smile on my face. I didn't even bother looking back at the game at that point. I just sat there, ate a sandwich, and did my lit reading for the next Monday.
It turns out that Round One was full of upsets. My upset win wasn't even particularly notable given all the other crazy upsets in that round. I know there were 38 players in the section, but look at this! Aside from the 1562 losing to me:
-A 1689 lost to a 1373
-A 1558 lost to a 1290
-A 1678 lost to a 1367
-A 1600 lost to a 1282
-A 1632 lost to a 1357
-A 1580 lost to a 1235
-A 1733 lost to a 1450
-And of course my friend was the victim of the biggest upset of all, losing to the 1000. His game took a while, but there was enough time between games that once his game finished, we went and showed each other our games and prepared for the next round. It would end up being a pretty rough tournament for Steve.
My next game was a pretty poorly played game on both sides. However, somehow or another I managed to net my second 1500 win of the day- and of my entire tournament career.
Wow, that was a weird game. Glad I ended up winning.
I went into one of the rooms and did my homework for an hour or so. My friend's game went pretty late, and he ended up losing. I was pretty tired by this point, and probably not ready to play my third game.
In Round Three, I was paired with a 1727. For that game, I decided that after beating two 1500s, I was going to go back to being a 1200 and blunder the game away in pathetic fashion, leading to a quick loss which isn't worth posting. I did talk a bit with my opponent after the game, and he was a very nice man. I was definitely rooting for him to win the section after that, which he did with 4.5/5.
So that was it for day one of the tournament. I actually went home a little disappointed, in spite of my two highest-rated wins, due to the way I played in my last game. I probably lost that game due to being tired and possibly being concerned with the inordinate amount of schoolwork I had to do that weekend which was distracting me from the game. That's at least the best excuse I can come up with.
So day two arrived, and according to the ratings adjustment sheet they put out on the board that morning, I would actually have been over 1400 if the tournament had ended after three games. But there were two games left, and I played in suspect fashion in both of them, causing me to lose, although they were both very interesting.
That was an unfortunate loss, albeit to a better player. It was one of those games where, at the time, I really had no idea where I went wrong. After this game, which was the second-longest game of that round, I didn't have much time to do anything, so I tried to get as much of my homework done as I could for the next day (although the next day ended up being snowed out anyway). I then thought for a little while about my next game. I thought that since I had two losses, there was no way that I could win the top U1400 prize for the section, but I could still get my rating over 1400 with a win or even maybe a draw. Meanwhile, my previous opponent analyzed my game against him with my friend Steve, who had watched most of the game since he had gotten a bye for that round (not intentionally- he still hadn't won a game at this point). I wasn't interested enough to analyze it with them and by this point I was nervous about how I was going to get all my work done that night and finish the project, as I didn't know that it was snowing outside. All too soon, the next round began. It was another 1600, and a very interesting but poorly-played game where both sides missed numerous good moves. Unfortunately for me, I missed just a few more.
And that was it. I had a huge disadvantage, then an advantage, then an unclear position, and then I lost. What a weird game.
I went home and was thankful to learn that school was probably going to be canceled the next day, which saved me a bit in terms of my work. Eventually, my rating was updated and it went up to 1360.
This tournament was not the greatest, but my wins in the first two rounds netted me almost 100 rating points alone. I have since played in a quad event in D.C. in which my rating went up to 1381. Hopefully by the end of the summer I can be 1450-1500, and maybe I'll even go up enough to qualify for the Sweet Sixteen at the UMBC Open next year. I guess I proved in this tournament that I am capable of playing with Class C-B players and even beating them sometimes, and this is a good sign. My next major tournament is the Potomac Open, since I can't play in the World Open due to my summer schedule. I might go to Fell's Point tournaments once or twice in that time though, which would be a good test since all the players there are rated well above me, like they were in this tournament. Thanks to all who read the blog!