Everybody has a bad tournament: Sant Boi 2016

Everybody has a bad tournament: Sant Boi 2016

Sep 14, 2016, 5:23 PM |

Hi again. In my last post I wrote a recap of my first year of chess and was prepared to start my second year at the same tournament I started the first one: Sant Boi.

This time I could not join the weakest group and I had to play the strongest one, the group B (group A was actually a closed round-robin tournament).

Here are the games played in this OTB tournament. This was an open tournament with 43 players in which I was the 22th of the startink ranking, mostly due because I was a bit overrated by FIDE due to the good (and sometimes lucky) results at Sant Martí Classic. My starting ratings were 1962 (FCE) and 1862 (FIDE). I will note FIDE ratings when reporting the games unlike previous tournaments, where I used catalan ratings.

 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 1 as white vs 2144

First round I was paired with Josep Chalmeta, first player in the starting rank and Catalan Master. As expected I lost the game, and I did my best to lose it.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • Once I placed my pieces at good places for an attack I did not continue it, and instead started to worry about enemy threats to the point of exchanging my best pieces for worse enemy ones.
  • I handled timing really badly and did too much preparation to my active/breaking moves, thus allowing my opponent to defend and even to take the initiative.
  • I stopped analyzing concrete positions and variations once my attacking chances and me got frustrated.
  • I played very badly the pawn attack against enemy king. Not only I was not able to open any line against enemy king, but I placed myself all pawns at squares the same colour than my bishop and entered a lost endgame.

Second round (0/1), table 18 as black vs 1763

The second round I had to play against one of the last players in the starting rank. The problem was that "weakest" players had a playing strength similar to my own strength, so it would not be easy. And actually I won because a blunder of my opponent in an ending I had still to work hard to get a draw from.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • Again I mixed plans or left previous plans unfinished.
  • I prepared too much my breaking moves, losing any opportunity of getting a decisive attack.
  • When replacing a piece I should not only think what the piece will do at its new location, but also what it was doing at its original one.

Third round (1/2), table 6 as black vs 2081

The third round I was paired again with a strong opponent. I played a Stonewall Dutch and, as it happens too many times to me, I got a weak pawn after the exchanges in the middle of the board. First, trying to hold the weak pawn, and then defending against actual or imaginary threats, I neglected development of the queenside and was overplayed at kingside.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • I should be more careful with the Stonewall Dutch. Particularly the move Nbd7 (which blocks the defense from the light bishop to e6) should be carefully evaluated. Other common themes are the desperados at a2-g8 diagonal with a check, that can gain a pawn.
  • I failed to evaluate which pawn structure was better at queenside at 13th move.
  • I should do a more systemathic analysis of pawn levers. Every pawn move has always the same type of effects: some squares stop being defended, new ones are defended, files and diagonals are open and squares are cleared to be occupied by pieces. See comments after 13th white move.
  • I worried to much about enemy threats and spent lot of tempi defending against them instead of developing my own pieces.
  • My defense of two back ranks was very bad.

Fourth round (1/3), table 14 as white vs 1801

Fourth game was a very mad one that clearly showed that I was in a very bad shape. Again I moved away from my planned moves, panicked, lost a piece in a very stupid way... but later in the game I got the piece back so I reached a position where I was two pawns up. I thought the game was won and I relaxed, allowing my opponent to build a mating net against my king so I was forced to give my rook for a pawn to save my king. At the end I got a draw thanks to my opponent time troubles when he had a won endgame but only a few seconds at clock.

Mistakes & Lessons learned

  • Too many times I left my original idea by another move I've not analyzed at all. All my analysis when I played O-O-O was: "this is an useful move and cannot be moved" with any concrete analysis of the position.
  • Sometimes I panic when I have to face an unexpected move. Black 16th move wasn't exactly an unexpected move as I saw this posibility as soon as I castled queenside (sadly, after the move) but I was hoping that he wouldn't play it and, once he did, I panicked and did a very bad move when it was obvious how to save the knight without trapping the queen.
  • A too superficial analysis made me exchanging queens just because queens are the strongest pieces on board. But black major strength at the position was the control of h file and it was easy to see on the board. The fact that I was two pawns up, too much in a hurry to simplify into an ending, affected too much in my thinking process.
  • I did not take seriously enough black threats along h file and 1st-2nd rank. I just thought that playing in autopilot mode my material advantage would give me the game.
  • I failed to see a nearly win line (see move 53th) because I didn't count moves nor analyze the position. In the endings you have to analyze a lot, I had plenty of time at my clock and my only chance was those passed pawns, so I should at least try to find out such a solition. The problem is not that I didn't see it, but that I didn't search for it!

Fifth round (1.5/4), table 13 as black vs 1771

Fifth game was the only clear win I got. Actually it was not mine, as first 19 moves we were following a model game and then my opponent lost two pawns and resigned.


Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • Actually none. Most of the game was just theory, and rest of the game rather straightforward.

Sixth round (2.5/5), table 10 as white vs 1958

After five games my play had been bad, but my results were acceptable: 2.5/5 was ok for my starting ranking and I was even gaining some elo! But with this game I started a serie of four consecutive loses to end the tournament with 2.5/9. This game was a London one, and we ended in the same position than the previous two games as white. I began to have the uncomfortable feeling that I was too previsible and that everybody had prepared this line better than me, so I feel forced to choose different moves even if they weren't the best in the position. I more or less hold the position, but my kingside initiative vanished and I was overplayed at queenside.


Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • I'm too previsible. I should find new openings so it's not so easy to prepare a game against me.
  • I left my plans unfinished and gave away the initiative because I was too worried about enemy threats.
  • Also, I change my plans and leave them unfinished when I find another interesting idea, which I usually leave unfinished later, too. See comments on 22th move.
  • I failed to see a not too difficult tactical trick. After I found a solution to the double attack I didn't look for any use my opponent could do of the tempo won.

Seventh round (2.5/6), table 12 as black vs 1798

Well, I lost at the sixth round but it was more or less a expected defeat, I still was in time to make a good tournament. At seventh round I had to play against a coworker and friend of mine, Jesús González. He's maybe the main responsable I started playing chess a year ago. I played the London again and, this time (wow!) we didn't reach the same position as the three previous games with white. I got a good position from the opening, but then I relaxed, played in autopilot mode and jesús got a deadly attack against my king.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:
  • Lazy analysis and autopilot mode. Once black started with Nh5 his manouver to chase my london bishop I mindlessly played the Nfe2 thematic move to capture the enemy knight and disrupting black pawn structure, but concrete analysis shows that I was wasting tempi to exchange my good pieces for bad black pieces, and placing other pieces at worse positions. See comment on 9th move.
  • I evaluated very badly the move d5, which releases tension in the centre and, although denies f5 to black knight, it gives a nice outpost at f4 to the same knight.
  • When opponent is fiercely attacking your king, simplicity is the key. At 19th move I had seen that gxh3 was possible but rejected it because I evaluated the resulting position too superficially (mainly, the london bishop was my good bishop and I wanted to keep it), so I chose another defense with a less clear result. Even if I had evaluated the position correctly (and it was not the case) I should have choose an easier line that simplifies the position before an unclear line.

Eight round (2.5/7), table 15 as black vs 1932

Eight round and I wasn't lucky with the pairement: I had to play a stronger player who had only played four games and lost one of them, against the first player in the starting rank. As I knew he played the London I had prepared a sharp line against him, but he refused to enter. Then I tried to move into the line I had to play against the first three games as white but played it very very badly and with very little confidence in my game.


Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • I should think before moving. It's just unacceptable that just after deciding to reach the same position I had to play against playing white I exchange pawns at d4, changing completely the position and giving away most of my counterplay at queenside.
  • When I know some thematic moves or plans for similar positions I stick too much to them and it's difficult for me to play another plans. After the exchanges at d4 control of e4 was less important while exchanging the dangerous light bishop was more important.
  • I did stupid moves in response to imaginary threats from my opponent. Qe7 (12th black move) is maybe the most stupid move I played in this tournament, and I played many bad moves.

Ninth round (2.5/8), table 16 as white vs 1822

Last round I played again Jordi Bise (I had played him at Martorell). He played the opening very passive and I got a nice attacking position, but again I left my plans unfinished and allowed him to exchange queens. From then on I didn't adapted to the new scenario and kept my pieces as if the attack on enemy king was going to be executed, and finished in a curious ending position where my king was imprisoned in the board corner.


Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • I get dragged out from my plans too easily. I quickly left the g4 idea as soon as I thought that e6 could be a good target, too.
  • I should adapt better to new circumstancies on the board. Once queens were exchanged the rooks were doing nothing at g and h files... or, at least, if I kept them there I should have continued with the opening files idea with g4. But I didn't open files nor moved the rooks to the open one (d file).
  • I failed to analyze the effects of pawn moves. c3 not only took squares away from black knight, it also weakened d3. Also I had to have seen that c4 was available to black, giving superb squares to his knight.

And at the end...

If the previous tournament was my best tournament ever, this one was the worst one. I finished at 38th position of 43 with 2.5/9 points (my starting rank was 22/43). This tournament was the first time I wasn't able to win a player having a lower rating than me (up to this tournament, 12 wins of 12 matches). And it was also the first tournament where I lost elo rating, and I had severe drops: -34 at FCE rating and -66 at FIDE rating. After this tournament my ratings are 1954 and 1796.

With these rating drops I fall, in my first tournament of these second year, long away from my goal of reaching the 2050/1900 (catalan/FIDE) rating this season. Even more important, I've lost confidence in my play, and in my opening repertory with white, the London System.

While I get good results with black playing the French or the Stonewall, I get very poor results playing white. This tournament my results were 0.5/5 playing white, and 2/4 playing black, and if I put together all games since I built my repertory (starting at Martorell) I had a performance of 1915 playing white and 2159 playing black. So I'll have to introduce changes in my repertory as white.

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:

Failing to stick to a plan: I start plans but then I left them unfinished because I find more interesting moves or because imaginary threats from my opponent.

Too much preparation: when it's time to execute the most energic moves of my plan I usually lose some extra tempi to prepare the attack more, losing my attacking chances and even the initiative.

Laziness: when I'm in familiar positions I play the thematic and natural moves without concrete analysis. Familiar positions are great because their knowledge can serve as a guide, but cannot substitute concrete analysis.

Careless ending play: ending positions seem easy because few material remain, but ending needs LOTS of calculation. Although I'm usually tired when I reach this phase of the game I should not forget about that and count moves and calculate lines when needed.

Relaxing: when I obtain a material advantage I cannot avoid the desire of reaching the ending as soon as possible and use the material advantage to win. There're many ways to realize material advantage, not only simplifying to the ending, and I should continue playing as concentrated as the advantage didn't exist.

Filling the holes: homework

I will continue with my current homework, mainly Artur Yusupov books and diary tactical exercises at chesstempo. I have also to find a new opening to complement the London and start studying it.

But main holes are still in thinking process, so I'll have to focus on them and try not to repeat my mistakes at next tournaments.