My first tournament win!

My first tournament win!

Dec 25, 2015, 6:19 PM |

I've been playing in chess tournaments since 2006, but up until this year's Montreal Open, I have yet to win a national-level (FQE/CFC) tournament.

The closest I've come to winning my section was, fittingly, the Montreal Open three years ago. Coming to the fifth and final round, I was in a many-way tie for first with 3.5/4. Near the end of the night, with my game remaining, only one managed to win his game, the rest settling for draws or even losing. I was in good position to win as well, playing white in a R+fPawn+K vs K+light squared B endgame. In my overconfidence, I pushed the pawn past the fifth rank and had to settle for a theoreticial draw. So the guy above earned outright first and I had to settle for a 5 way tie for second.

And then, I stopped playing competitive chess to pursue a singing career.

But that's behind me now. I've come back to chess for good :)

I didn't have the best tournament in my comeback tourney, but it did give me invaluable experience against strong titled players, which I managed to draw upon.

I played in the U2000 section. The schedule was quite intense, with one game on Friday, and two games each on Sat. and Sun. Despite me being sick and having to miss school on Friday, I had a solid start, winning my first two games without too much drama.

Things got spicy in the second Saturday game. I was playing a good friend of mine five years my junior. I had a pretty good game as White, getting a good Maroczy bind setup and winning material. However I was taking Tylenol that day and was very sleepy after ingesting the pill. My friends spotted me falling asleep at one point during the game.

Now back to the game. Despite me feeling not great, I managed to come across this position.

Now the correct move would be 48. Nxd5, as the skewer Rd8 does nothing as I have an intermediate check. But for one reason or another, I concluded that he could weave a mating net if I had done so. I also concluded that I could stop the e-pawn no problem and took on a6 (??). And classicly, I realized right as I played it, that I would have to sac my extra knight to stop the pawn, and I had to settle for a draw. My nap wasn't fruitful at all!

I must admit, it was hard letting go of that lost half point. I didn't get much sleep that night. But I knew nothing was over yet, and I was in good position, tied for second.

Round four went my way. After an intense struggle, my opponent tried too hard to win despite being two pawns down. But, material is material, and after the trade of bishops I had a winning endgame.

So after 4 rounds, there was one person with 4 and three (including me with 3.5). 

I played a young girl with 3.5 in the final round. I managed to get a great position out of the opening, but I struggled to find the right follow-up.



The computers give me a generous 1 point advantage, but it wasn't obvious to me at all! Then again, credit to her defense, as it markedly made things tough. having spent too much time, I had to settle for simplifications and content myself with nothing more than better pawn structure.

But at the time control, things got heated.

I had ample time to think, but from moves 35-39, I was on cruise control of a line that I saw was forced. The 40th move mas the final move of the sequence. I was about to play Rb4 immediately, until I saw something that made my heart skip a beat.


I was so mad at myself that I didn't notice this simple pin! Now, after spending the entire game on her heels, she has the chance to seize the initiative by winning that pawn.
My saving grace, however was probably my opponent's mindset. 11-year-olds don't have the best poker face Tongue Out. Throughout the game, she was very nervous, and I'll never forget the look that she gave her friend when she asked how she was doing. So cute! So after three plus hours of playing a worse position, I think she was just glad to equalize, overlooking the possibility to do better. 
Now I was back in it! Evidently, rook endgames are notoriously drawn, but I get to brag about my passer and superior pawn structure. After spending 13 min to decline a draw offer and a bit of shuffling around, I was in position to convert. I kinda felt bad for her, but her 3.5 was good for best woman performance! I also learned later that she was the CYCC U12 girls champion and represented Canada at the Worlds. This loss hopefully served as a positive lesson Cool
At this point, I was assured of outright second place. Now, I turn my attention to the first board, where white (4 pts) is battling the third player with 3.5 pts. It was not white's day, as he lost a pawn in the middlegame and black refused a desperation draw offer. Result: I tied for first! 
Looking back, it was quite a Cinderella story. One week prior, I started university and did an entire week of frosh, which was anything but dry Wink. I was telling one of my new friends about the tournament and that I really had no expectations. The day before, I was sick and had a fever. And in round 3, I blundered a completely won position. 
But then again, I believed in the Swiss System, played some clutch chess when it mattered, and here I am, winner of this year's Montreal Open, U2000 section!