I'm back from the guelph winter pro-am at last, and I had quite a good time there, and learning quite a lot about my chess. Firstly I would like to say that this was a very well run and enjoyable tournament experience, I had nice chess chats with all of my opponents after the games and look forward to seeing them in future tourneys. I learned a lot about my own game, how I could improve and what I can be proud of. Anyway, now for a round by round summary!
Firstly I must say that the night before the tournament I couldn't sleep more than a couple of hours, I was WAY too excited to shut my eyes so I watched some karsten mueller DVDs on the endgames and Ari Zeigler's French Defence DVD until I nodded off at around 5AM...Hopefully as I get more experience I won't be so worked up before (and during) tournaments and I'll be able to sleep. I think that is a key to my future success in these events.
Round 1: Started at 11AM, I had the white pieces. My opponent was a 40-something father there with his son, I had a nice chat with him about this being my first tournament, he offered some of his own experiences and tips...I'll be seeing him on the playchess server sometime I'm sure. Anyway, our game started and I quickly won a pawn, traded down into a drawish endgame...until he blundered a bishop and resigned on move 48. My first tournament game is my first tournament win!!
Round 2: Starts at around 2PM (the time control for these games was 50 minutes with a 50 second increment by the way) I was paired up with a little kid who couldn't be more than 8 years old. Cutest little kid I ever saw, he had one of those monroi devices sending his moves wirelessly so his parents could watch from the skittles room. I had black and played into an advanced french. I quickly won a pawn...but made the mistake of trading down into an endgame where it was possible for him to create a fortress. I offered a draw on move 35 with about an hour left on our clocks. He accepted and skipped off to see his parents.
Round 3: Started at around 6PM and as soon as I sat down I knew I was completely exhausted. I was paired against a 30-something fellow with a habit of getting up and walking around after every move. Anyway, I had white but quickly blundered a couple of pawns due to the touch move rule I wasn't used to yet. I should have lost but lucky for me he hung his queen....hehe. He resigned after a long battle wherein he set up a fortress and I had to sacrifice a bishop and an exchange to finally mate him. It was a good thing he hung a queen because any less than that and I would have been too tired to beat him.
I went back to my cousin's place (who so graciously took me in this weekend) and tried to get some sleep...but again I was too worked up and only ended up getting a couple of hours. More Ari Zeigler French Defence DVD and a lot of tossing and turning.
Round 4: Began at 10AM, with me playing another 40-something fellow...I had black and he played a king's indian attack which I played well and got a nice advantage out of the opening. Unfortunately it was all downhill from there as in my caffeine fuelled haze I missed a simple fork winning the queen...then missed a check allowing him to win the exchange. Crud! Anyway I managed to salvage a draw, he offered somewhere around move 50 and I happily accepted.
While waiting for the next round I tried to nap at the campus coffee shop (the tourney was held at the university of guelph) but had no luck :(
Round 5: This was the final round and I was heavily favoured to take 2nd place in my section if I could pull off a win. I was playing white against an older fellow and got a completely winning position out of the opening. However, he defended well and around move 40 I completely collapsed and playing some ridiculous trades (hoping to force a draw so I could get the hell out of there and have a nap) that left him with a passed pawn and clear road for his rooks to invade my position. I resigned around move 60-something...my first loss and all my glorious hopes shot down...ah well.
Anyway, I learned many many things from this tourney. For one thing, I know my openings MUCH better than anyone else in my section, I had an advantage out of the opening in every game I played, no question my openings are just fine.
#2 My tactics need a lot of work. I missed an easy win in round 4 and probably a whole lot more. (whether that was due to tiredness is beside the point, if I can spot that stuff at 2AM on playchess then I should be able to spot it in tournaments) With this in mind I'm going to increase my daily dose of chess tactics server from 200 tries a day to 300. Hopefully this will help my game more than reading "the dynamic english" for an 800th time!
#3 I need to get some sleep...somehow! I never once felt in the tournament that the people I was playing were very good. I had winning positions in every game, I just need to find the energy and technique to carry them out.
In conclusion, I finished with 2 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss in my first OTB tourney. I have two weeks before my next tourney (the kitchener open) and I plan on using them wisely!