University of Miami Tournament

Oct 3, 2014, 2:59 AM |
So this is my second touranament this decade and it happens to be held at the University of Miami.  Strong players for a lowly 1400 like me.  My first round was against a person I struggle against almost weekly, but I've been studying, so I hoped to make it a battle!
So, overall, not a horrible start.  Still, a win or a draw would have been nicer.  Oh well.  At least I learned a great deal about the Carlsbad.  I also learned that, when activating a pawn storm, you need to protect against the odd queen sortie and not waste time with needless rook moves.
Perhaps the next week will let me show off my knowledge rather than being a teachable experience.
The next week.  Round 2.  My hopes have been dashed.  It's time to learn:
So what lessons did I glean from this game?  
#1: Don't be overly impressed by an opponent's pawn storm.  Instead, look at the whole board and see if it can be undermined before succombing to the pressure.  I already knew that the best way to combat an attack on the wing is to counter in the center.  This game brings that message home.  Many possible wins were missed because I failed to consider that fact. 
#2: When you knock out your opponent's attack, he may (especially at my lower level) be unable to come up with a fresh plan.  THAT IS THE TIME WHERE YOU MUST ATTACK!  Sitting back on your laurels and patting yourself on the back for a good defense will only earn you a draw at best.
Next week is Round 3.  I must try to make sure that these messages remain ingrained at that time.
My third round game was against a 400 rated player.  The odd down-shift can be explained by the fact that our tournament had an odd number of players and inserting the 400 player was the only way to even out the pairings.  Still, I can only play the opponent I'm paired against.  Hopefully I learn something along the way.  Here is round 3:
So, did I learn anything from this game?  Well, yes.  When an opponent is down in development and has their king stuck in the middle of the board, attack.  But just because an attack looks good and leaves positional advantages, does not mean that there isn't a better attack left on the table.  While position-building manuevers are never "bad", swift attacks should always be considered before playing the quieter moves.
Round 4.  Despite my poor first round, I was actually within range of placing with a win (or possibly with a draw if certain other games broke my way).
So what did I learn from all of this?  Well, clearly my endgame remains my weakest area.  I need to work on this extensively if I am to have any hope of moving up the ranks.  But in addition, I need to stop assuming that good plans won't work without doing to necessary calculations first.  This is a mental block which needs to be destroyed.
Still, there is a silver lining.  I was in luck that night.  Because there were no draws ahead of me, I ended up tied for third place.  We played an armageddon blitz match for the placement and I won.  So in the end, I made out quite nicely for my second tournament in 11 years!