Eastern Open 2015
Fall is a busy time for me, so I played no tournaments between the Potomac Open in August (which didn't go well for me) and Eastern Open in late December. Eastern Open has sections 300 rating points apart and, although my rating fell below 1900 after the Potomac Open, I decided to play in the under 2200 section.
The first game started OK, I emerged from the opening with some advantage, but then I played an unsound combination instead of continuing to develop normally. What's worse, in the middle of the combination, I changed my plan, overlooking that my opponent could attack my queen and free an escape route for his with the same move.
In the second game, I gained advantage in the early middlegame. First I emerged with a queenside pawn majority, and then my opponent's error (20...Nd5) allowed me to seize control of the open d-file. The problem is that I was too narrowly focused on the penetration along the d-file and missed several opportunities to gain near-winning advantage. I also didn't realize in time that my advantage had evaporated, so I made the well-known mistake of rejecting moves because they seemed to lead to an equal position. Finally, when my opponent seized the initiative in the endgame, my judgment swung too far the other way and I thought I was lost before I was. In the end, I blundered, but I primarily blame my poor evaluation throughout the game, and the resulting volatile attitude.
Not much happened in the third game, except for a ping-pong of blunders between the 12th and 15th moves. I guess we both have the same excuse - it wad the third game of the day...
The fourth game was very interesting in all stages. Although we both made many mistakes, the positions throughout the game were complex and I believe even much better players would go astray several times. I built up a large advantage in the middlegame, but lost it all with a terrible 34...Rc5. I still got a somewhat better endgame, but it was difficult to find a way to make progress (well, difficult for me anyway - I missed several chances). Eventually, my young opponent made a big mistake after almost five hours of play, allowing my king to walk up to his pawns and gobble them up.
Unfortunately, the price I paid for my persistence in the fourth game was fatigue in the fifth. Although I was doing well initially, I made two blunders and lost quickly.
The sixth game was the most fun (for me; my opponent would probably use different words to desctibe it). Opposite-side castling with wing attacks, but only my attack went somewhere, and ended with some nice tactics.
In the seventh game, I faced the same young opponent I played in the last round of the Potomac Open, and again I had the white pieces. Again, it was a King's Indian with h3, and again I had an advantage and squandered it. Then for a while, the prospects were unclear, as I was down a pawn, but had more-or-less full compensation for it. In the end, I made a mistake, luckily escaped, and, with rough equality reestablished, we agreed to a draw (again).
In conclusion, I played some interesting games, but made too many mistakes, including major blunders in two games (one of which went unpunished), and losing the advantage in every game in which I had it except the 6th. I performed roughly as expected for my pre-tournament rating, but I was hoping for more.
Three weeks later, I played in the Chesapeake Open, also a 7-round event. I'll blog about that soon.