Spring Open 2016
This blog is very late. The tournament went poorly for me, and between that and life stress I wasn't motivated to analyze the games. I'm still not motivated, but it's nearly time for the next tournament....
I've been under an excessive amount of stress in my home life for years. That changed abruptly in April. It's going to take me a while to recover, but simply sleeping better and having fewer crises has already had positive effects. I hope it helps my chess as well.
For the Spring Open, however, I was somewhat exhausted (physically and emotionally) from the start, and it shows in my games.
In game 1 I tricked a young Sicilian player into playing the French, which always feels like an accomplishment; but despite the outcome I could tell that my calculation was shaky.
Having been paired down in round 1 I was bound to be paired up in round 2: as it turned out, against a young master, Bryce Tiglon. He's the same age as Roland Feng (I think they go to the same school) and has been a little bit in Roland's shadow, but he's a fierce player, as this game shows well.
Disappointing but hardly surprising, and at least he had to show some flair to beat me. The other memorable aspect of this game was that we were sitting next to Roland Feng and David Arganian, and both of us lost at least ten minutes on our clocks as we became engrossed with watching them.... Roland eventually won, but it wasn't the smooth positional win he's famous for.
In round 3 I was paired with a dangerous young Indian player--if I recall correctly, he handed Nick Raptis a stinging upset last WA Open. His play is very similar to his compatriot Vikram's.
So I'm on notice: Vikram and Pratik know I can't handle Alekhine's Defense, and I'm likely to see it again and again until I do something about it.
For some reason the top section of the Spring Open has traditionally been only four rounds. That wasn't enough to pick a clear winner among the 25 participants. I asked TD Fred Kleist why he hadn't gone for five (the Reserve section had five rounds, so it wouldn't have required any extra staffing) and he said that he just liked to vary the tournament formats.
My expectations were set back as a teenager at the Anchorage Chess Club; our weekend tournaments were five rounds, and anything shorter feels truncated. So I was sad to approach the last round, though also a little relieved as I wasn't happy with my play. I found I was paired against my first adult opponent, expert David Arganian, whose game I'd just been watching....
Lesson from this game: you can't get an attack against a strong player just by wanting one, and you'll get shredded if you try. The prerequisites have to be there.
So 1.5/4, and the first (small) rating loss in recent memory. I've had much worse tournaments, but I didn't play particularly well in this one. It's all about getting more sleep and fewer distractions.
I have high hopes for the Washington Open at the end of May. My Tactics Trainer rating has finally rebounded, and I can sleep at night again. I also managed four wins in seven games against my lunchtime blitz partner, a master against whom I'm usually lucky to win one in seven. We'll see. It's going to be a very tough tournament: I'm in the Open, along with not only at least one GM and one IM, but a bunch of ambitious young players who are rapidly learning all about the holes in my opening repertoire.