Clàssic Sant Martí, group B

Clàssic Sant Martí, group B

Apr 30, 2016, 7:05 AM |

Hi again. Here are the games played in my fourth slow OTB tournament. This was an U2100 tournament with 58 players in which I was the 26th of the startink ranking, and the first one I had to play 2000+ rated players. My own rating was 1915 at that time.

 I've done the analysis and this article for my own use and reference. I doubt they can be useful for anybody else, so you're warned

Now the games.

First round (0/0), table 22 as white vs 1681

The first round I was paired with Laura Domenech, a lot behind in the starting rank. A priori an easy game, but after my opponent blundered a pawn I neglected my own development and allowed her to gain the initiative. But she didn't manage to make use of the initiative and after a couple of blunders I finished having an easy game.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • I allowed my opponent too much counterplay (from 7th move) because a mix of lazy calculation and passive defense. Being aware that my b2 pawn could be attacked I only looked for move that could defend my own pawn, while more active options (like threatening other pawns in enemy camp) would have given me a better game.

Second round (1/1), table 6 as black vs 2008

The second round I had to face my first 2000+ player, Joaquim Pla. We played a Stonewall Dutch game in which white got the initiative at kingside but was decided in black favour after queenside was opened, thanks to the a6-f1 diagonal and the a file.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • I rejected a good move after analyzing it for a long time, because I cannot see a clear continuation, just to choose an inferior move that has "magically" appeared in my mind with no analysis at all (move 13th).
  • I should be more flexible with my plans. Although it's black who usually has the initiative at kingside sometimes it can be just the opposite. This mistake made me to insist in manouvering my heavy pieces into kingside. Once I opened the queenside the game was decided.
  • Choose the best diagonals for your bishops, even if that means placing the bishop at board borders. Bishops can operate from distance!

Third round (2/2), table 3 as white vs 2017

The third round I was paired with Manel Riera at 3th board. I wouldn't leave the first three boards to the end of the tournament.

I commited severe blunders, but my opponent missed one defensive resource and I got half point I didn't deserve.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • Lazy calculation nearly cost me the game. Ending the 21th move analysis with "at any discovery attack on g2 just move the queen to g4, moving the queen from the diagonal while defending g2" is a major mistake. One of the key points of a discovered attack is that the piece moving away can go anywhere with impunity. In fact I ignored the discovered attack theme just to "concentrate" in the screwer attack on g2.

Fourth round (2.5/3), table 3 as black vs 2066

I faced Josep Maria Mateu the fourth round, again at the 3th board and in 3th position in the tournament. Again I played the game very badly: this time I was too obsessed in following the plan I had seen to Damian Lemos in a similar but diferent position. Mindless following such plan lead me to a completely lost position, but I was lucky again and a tactical mistake by my opponent turned the tide and I finally won.

Mistakes & Lessons learned

  • I should be more flexible. Learned plans in similar positions are useful guides, but one cannot blindlessly follow them while ignoring key diferences in the position (moves from 14th). In this case I wanted too much having the opportunity to play that plan that I discarded any evidence that was against it.

Fifth round (3.5/4), table 1 as black vs 1951

I started this round as the second ranked player, just behind my opponent Aitor Pallares (4/4) and above a bunch of players with 3 points. The winner would be the only leader of the tournament. We played the Tarrasch variation of the French where I easily equalized, then I won a pawn in a tactical mistake and went to win the game.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • I failed some simple calculations like in move 41th, but it was a good game where I found simple plans to place better my pieces.

Sixth round (4.5/5), table 1 as white vs 2099

Second round at 1st board, this time as the leader. I was paired with Carlos Ramos, the player with the highest rating and, while at games 3th and 4th I was really lucky, here luck was not in my side and I ended losing a game that was completely won. With the queenside completely open and serious threats at kingside, black king had no safe place, but I failed to open the game when I had to. I commited several mistakes and finally I lost the game.

With this game I also broke a serie of 15 consecutive games without losing (2 draws and 13 wins) and started a new period of bad results, both in this tournament and the catalan league (which was played simultaneously).

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • As many other times I rejected a good move after analyzing it a lot to play a new one I've just seen, without further analysis. The most obvious case is 20th move, but it is the case of the 27th move.
  • Some other moves I play in autopilot move, without doing a minimal check of the move (the typical move you regret about even before you've released the piece). These are the cases of 12th and 38th move.
  • Bad evaluations in some positions. I evaluated the position after 23th move as favorable to white (+/-) because superficial reasons (the backward e6 pawn and the bad bishop) without a more concrete analysis, but once we reached the position it was evident that his "bad" bishop was more active and actually better than mine. So happened after 35th move, where I thought that my control of the only open file would grant me an easy win, and understimated black chances to create counterplay.
  • Sometimes I spend long time analyzing a position to find out a plan, and the next move I ignore the whole analysis and plan and play something else, as 21th move.
  • I was completely blind to the ending theme played (the rook move Ra8-a1-c1-c2). Main reason I understimated black chances is that I thought all activity could be done only along the a file.

Seventh round (4.5/6), table 3 as black vs 1974

New leader change. This game I started at 3th position, half point behind the two leaders with 5.0 points. I knew that my opponent played the KIA against the French, so I decided to watch Vallejo's video on this line. Surprisingly (i use to learn easily new lines) I completely mistaken the opening from second move (and the first one was e6 ), mixed plans from diferent lines, and so on. I won a pawn while severely damaging my own pawn structure, only to blunder a pawn myself, so I was without the pawn and with an horrible structure.

However my opponent wasn't able to take advantage of the fact, and slowly we reached a position where my extra semi-open file and best minor pieces gave me a decisive advantage... just to throw it all in a few moves. Luckily for me my opponent was not precise enough to draw the endgame and I got my last win in the tournament.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:
  • I was particularly surprised by my inhability to remember the lines I had studied (it was from a video below 15'!). Maybe it was fatigue? I was playing two tournaments at once and this one was played at noon after a day of work but...
  • After analyzing a move for a relatively long time I discard it to move something else with no further analysis. This case (9th move) was particularly shocking, because I had seen that I could not move my light bishop because b7 was lost, just to end playing the light bishop... and losing b7 pawn, of course.
  • I played some moves in autopilot, missing easy ways to win material (move 31th).
  • Sometimes I discard previous analysis and plans and play something else without any reason. See 36th move. It's an avoidable mistake because I've prepared the e5 square for my knight, where it cannot be kicked out and dominates the whole board, and I KNOW that. Missing something is bad, but knowing it and ignoring it is worse.

Eight round (5.5/7), table 2 as white vs 2023

Second to last round and we were three players in second place half point away from Carlos Ramos, who was the leader. At second board I played Antoni Lozano, while at first board Carlos Santos and Aitor Pallares played a very interesting Marshall game. We both were more interested in the neighbour game than in ours own so we ended agreeing a draw. Ah, the Marshall game ended with a win for black, played by Aitor!

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • Resulting pawn structure in this game was favorable to black once all minor pieces were exchanged. I should take this into account next games.

Ninth round (6/8), table 2 as white vs 1927

I started last round in second position half point behind Aitor Pallares, the new leader, and I had to play Manuel Cabrera, theoretically the weakest opponent since first round but he was performing very well and, actually, theoretically speaking, he was also strongest than me.

The fact that Manuel played the exchange variation in the French discouraged me, because I doesn't feel confortable in the exchange variation. However I saw that he played the Morra against the Sicilian, so I decided to learn the morra and accept the challenge. I took an old book from our club library (How to defeat the Smith-Morra gambit, by Timothy Tailor) and preparation worked fine. I achieved a very good position, but a huge blunder completely changed the game and I lost it.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • This game somewhat reconciled myself because I was able to learn the ideas and lines proposed by the book. It's a short book (actually 12 commented games, about 100 pages) but I read it in a very short time.
  • Several times I spend long time analyzing a position, just to do a move what completely ignores the conclusions I've reached about it. It's really annoying because I actually KNOW (or I should) that a move is a mistake, but I do it anyway. This is the case of Qf6 (13th move) which is the move that loses the game. At 12th move I had had to calculate how to defend from the knight sacrifize at b5 and knew about the key role of black queen... just to move it away the very next move.

And at the end...

Finally I finished the tournament at 5th position with 6/9 points, as I had the best tie break values after playing the whole tournament at first places (actually I played all 7 first players but one). It results to be the best position I never get in a tournament (I was 9th at Sant Boi11th at Badalona and 8th at Martorell) in the strongest tournament I've played. My ELO rating increased 47 points, up to 1962, despite my bad second half of the tournament.

I was playing the Catalan League simultaneously and it is curious that results were very similar. First half I performed very well in both tournaments (4.5/5 here and 4/4 in league) and after the defeat against Carlos Santos I performed very badly in both tournaments (1.5/4 here and 0.5/4 in league). So it should be a matter of fatigue or bad/good shape, who knows.

I still misplay my opening repertory, but I think I play them better than at Martorell. I'm too inflexible when playing them. I've improved in some aspects of the game, as taking into account some strategic themes (as minority attacks) and building plans to improve my pieces position.

As I did in the previous post, I'll put together the mistakes of all my games we find that most of them repeat along all the games:

Laziness: again lazy calculations handicaped my game. Soon I get into a mesh and give up, stop calculating and do the move I like more for wrong reasons. These reasons can be aesthetical, just that the chosen move seems natural, or sometimes is desire which overtakes analysis (when I want too much to play a variation I've studied).

"Magical" moves: I'll call "magical" moves those that come into my mind ignoring any previous analysis and sometimes being against any previous analysis. My worst blunders usually feet well into this category. As said before the worst thing about them is that I KNEW (or I should) they were bad, but I play them anyway and only then I realize they were an horrible blunder.

Inflexibility: sometimes is difficult to me to get rid of some ideas: black queen bishop is bad in french/stonewall defenses, in the stonewall black should attack the kingside, and so on. Related is the fact that sometimes the desire to play some plans/variations (4th and 7th games) overlies any objetive analysis.

Filling the holes: homework

I will continue with my current homework, mainly Artur Yusupov books. I haven't studied again openings (appart from the Morra) since I prepared my repertory by august, but I always review the lines played when analyzing the games, and it seems to be enough until I decide to extend it.

Main holes seem to be related with discipline and calculation, so I have to make an effort in both training and games to avoid laziness and giving moves just by intuition instead of complete analysis.