Potomac Open: Rounds 3-5
Sometimes you are the windshield, sometimes you're the bug... and I definitely wasn't the windshield in this tournament. After the ridicuously quick loss in round 2, I went home, rested, posted the first two games here, gave myself a pep talk - a decent result was not out of reach yet - and drove the 40 minutes back to Rockville for round 3.
The game was a roller coaster. After my ill-conceived kingside queen sortie, my opponent launched his own kingside attack. I defended successfully, he made some mistakes, and suddenly I had a significant advantage, though we were both rather short of time. His time trouble was eventually more severe and he had just the increment for the last four moves of time control, makin each of those literally in the last second; but it was me (or so I thought) who made the big mistake just before time control. As it turns out, that was a mistaken assessment. While I did make mistakes before time control and allowing ...g3 was self-inflicted pain, I was still way ahead; it was only after time control that I messed up, evacuating my king to the other wing, when in fact he should have stayed to hold the fort.
We were the last players still playing late Saturday night, and when I showed up for the fourth round on Sunday, I found out I was given a full-point bye as the odd man out in my section. Fortunately, there was also an odd man out in the Championship section, so we got to play a rated game. My vastly more experienced opponent understood the middlegame position far better than I did and won, probably with less effort than I thought he needed.
In the last round, I played the only opponent lower-rated than myself, had an excellent position and, once again, failed to convert. At least I didn't lose...
I may not have time for another tournament in several months, and it is clear what my homework should be in the meantime: practice converting near-winning positions, those with an advantage of between 1 and 2 pawns, into actual wins. This was the second tournament in a row in which I lost one such games and drew another.