2020 Chess.com Daily Chess Championship: Round 1
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2020 Chess.com Daily Chess Championship: Round 1

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After a long break, I decided to reenter the world of daily chess with the biggest Chess.com tournament on record, the 2020 Chess.com Daily Chess Championship. In this post, I’ll be discussing my games from Round 1 of the tournament.

I played in group number 983, and my rating of 1801 put me as top seed, exactly 100 rating points above the second seed. As with previous years’ editions of the championships, there was a high timeout rate given that the time control was one game per day, and many members may have forgotten that they had entered the tournament altogether. My group was no exception, and 5 of my 11 opponents timed out without making a single move, which reduced my number of simultaneous games from 22 to 12.

My first (proper) win came after 25 moves when my opponent resigned after blundering his queen. I was quite relieved when this happened, as I was battling to find a way to make progress just before that point!

My next two points came from timeouts 5 moves into the games, and although I thought my next game was also a timeout, it was a resignation as my opponent blundered a bishop and resigned on move 7.

The next to finish was my other game against @Aranga1993, this time where I had the white pieces. Errors in the opening, along with less-than-perfect defence allowed me to build up an attack that I was able to convert into a winning endgame.

My next win was not so clear-cut, and I actually found myself in trouble at various stages during the game. Playing against lower-rated opponents also adds pressure, as one doesn’t want to settle for a draw. Luckily for me, my opponent made the final blunder and resigned in a lost endgame.

After this, the next four games to finish were all timeouts with between 11 and 19 moves having been played. In one of these games I was clearly winning, in two I had a small advantage, and in one I had a slight disadvantage. To keep this blog post short, I won’t show these games, but I may look at them in another post.

Only the top finisher in each group progresses to Round 2, and I needed at least one more point to guarantee promotion. One of my opponents missed a game-winning tactic for him, and we moved into a drawn endgame where I was a pawn up. This is where experience came into play, as my opponent began recklessly pushing his pawns and ended up losing the game. It was a good example of the endgame advice which I only recently learned: in the endgame, the attacking side (or rather, the side that’s playing for a win) should advance their pawns, while the defending side should keep their pawns back.

Finally, in an anticlimactic finish, my closest opposition @wmakos timed out in his game against me after we played 20 moves that were still within my opening theory (leaving us in an equal, but interesting, position). This left me top of the group with a perfect score of 22/22, although only 5 of those wins weren’t timeouts, and none of the games were even slightly brilliant!

The final standings in my group

Although it was disappointing having so many timeouts, I’m happy to advance to Round 2, and I look forward to tougher competition and fewer timeouts once the round starts. The Round 1 games definitely showed me that my correspondence skills are rusty and that I need to concentrate and spend more time on my moves. I’ll also try use opening resources more in the Round 2 games, so that I can get some useful games for analysis.

Well done to all the participants of this year’s Daily Chess Championship who managed to complete their games, and good luck to all of you who still have games underway! If you played any brilliant or instructive games in Round 1 that you’d like featured in a future blog post, inbox me the game or comment with your game(s) below.

See you in Round 2…