Washington Open 2015
[Seattle image by Cacophony]
By local standards this was a huge tournament--around 200 players, not counting the large scholastic tournament sharing the site. It was held at the Lynnwood Convention Center, and felt very spacious after multiple tournaments in the SCC basement venue. I was surprised how exciting the sheer size of the event was. The top board of the top section got to sit up on stage with a giant display board. The next few were at an isolated table to the right. When top seed Costin Cozianu drew a game and was demoted to the isolated table, we joked that he had to sit at the kids' table--indeed, there were many very strong young players, including the Washington Champion and Oregon Junior Champion.
This was innately a 6-round tournament, but some players took advantage of the re-entry option to play 7 or even 8 rounds (with only 6 counting for their final results).
I debated entering the Open or Premiere (under 2000) but decided that winning tournaments was a good motivator right now. Most 1900 players decided the other way, so the Premiere turned out to be a knife fight among 1700-1800 players. And the knives were really out, as the prize fund was big.
In round 1 I played yet another young player named Zhang. This was an Albin-Chatard-Alekhine Gambit Declined:
So that was a bit rocky, but at least it was a win. In round 2 I played a 1790-rated adult, and as Black in a Classical Dutch was able to win two center pawns in the middlegame. In a fit of stupidity I then lost both of them back, and had to take a draw. A clear case of "dizziness due to success"--with as many years' experience as I've had I should be more alert to this problem....
Round 3 was a 1770-rated teen who lost a pawn in avoiding my Fried Liver Attack and was ground down in the endgame. Round 4 was an 1800-rated adult:
A somewhat embarrassing story goes with this game. In the morning before round 5 I was looking at the wall charts, and someone behind me said, "How's your tournament going?"
I said, "Last night was so frustrating! My opponent seemed to decide from move 1 that his goal in the game was 'don't let Mary win' and he shut down everything I tried. He never had anything of his own, but he completely stifled me. Argh! --So how did your game go?"
The person behind me chuckled and said, "Not too badly. I was playing you and I didn't let you win."
Round 5 was an 1830-rated teenager. This is my favorite game of the tournament, despite a huge blunder.
I think this is the furthest ahead I have ever calculated OTB. I was pleasantly astonished to have things work out pretty much as predicted.
This win led to a final round in which three players were tied for first: the other two played one another and I was paired with the top player with 3.5, who was Travis Olson. He turned out to vividly remember our previous game, which he lost in the midgame/ endgame transition after having been better.
The tournament was won by Trey Michaels (1767-1872!); I tied for 2nd-3rd and Travis for 4th-7th (along with two of my other opponents). I won $238, more than I got for winning the Spring Reserve outright. That prize got earmarked for the Oregon Open in September.
This tournament was memorable for the close pairings and extremely hard-fought games. I had skipped the Washington Class--in my youth I disliked class tournaments, as they were blighted by sandbagging--but now I'm keen to give it a try.
I still had not dealt with my opening problems, as the game with Travis Olson showed very clearly. But I was cautiously happy about my endgame play, which has definitely improved since the 1980's. It's mysterious how that could happen--I did some studying this year, but not an enormous amount. Perhaps I just appreciate endgames more than I did before.