A few weeks ago, I competed in the 19th Arkport Open. The Arkport Open is a small four round tournament held in Arkport, NY. This tournament has a special place in my chess career because it was the first “big” tournament that I played in when I returned to chess SEVEN years ago. Fred Harris who is also responsible for organizing events in the Hornell area runs the tournament. When I stepped off the bus in Arkport I was feeling queasy and nauseous. My stomach calmed down but it put me on edge and rattled me a bit. Although I wasn’t very successful in this tournament, I enjoyed myself and played some interesting games. A local Rochester player named Daniel Johnston scored 4/4, earned 62 rating points and won the tournament. Second place went to my friend David who you all may remember from the Hartford Open post.
I took some photos of the tournament:
In my first round I was paired with a young Rochester player that I had seen play good chess against some of my local “rivals”. I looked on with glee, as he was able to defeat some of the stronger opponents in my club. In our game, he moved quite confidently although he misplayed the opening. I blundered a pawn although I had some compensation in the form of piece activity. I played for tricky lines that made my position worse and worse in an attempt to trick my inexperienced opponent. He found many good moves that put a lot of pressure on me. Thankfully, in my time trouble he was too hasty and blundered which allowed us to enter a drawn rook endgame. He offered me a draw and I accepted:
In the second round, I was once again paired with a player from Rochester. He and I have played some interesting games and typically, I didn’t have too much trouble with him. In this game, I obtained an advantage and somehow let it slip. My inaccuracies allowed him to gain counter-play on the queenside. In a bit of desperation I sacrificed a knight, my opponent made a somewhat typical mistake after I sacrificed the piece; he trusted me. During the game, it wasn’t clear to me that the knight sacrifice was correct but my instincts told me that I should just go for it. My daring sacrifice paid off because he declined my sacrifice that gave me a huge initiative. Once again, there were too many pleasant variations for me to choose. I chose a variation that allowed him to win a pawn with check and I had an immediate fear that I just blundered. Thankfully, I found a Knight fork that won on the spot. My opponent played on and eventually I mated him. I should mention that it seems like people have been playing to mate more against me lately, I’m not sure if it was just the last couple opponents I’ve had or if I have some reputation for not being able to play checkmate; either way I ALWAYS enjoy delivering mate, so please continue to allow me to do so.
After my wild second round game, I played against a young player that I think I coached at chess camp. He played a sharp line against me that I felt was dubious during the game. Once again, I blundered, allowing him to win the bishop pair, which gave him a great position. For some strange reason a couple moves later, he offered me a draw. I suppose this is the benefit of being the higher rated player in these situations. People tend to be psychologically afraid of you and will [sometimes] accept and offer draws in better positions.
In the fourth round, I played my friend from Syracuse. He played a very sharp line and we reached a critical position quite early in the game. I was concerned because I know my opponent likes to attack and it looked like I had allowed him that free. Thankfully, he made a terrible blunder that allowed me to win a piece. I finished the tournament with 3/4, which earned me a whopping twelve bucks! I decided for this last game to make it a simple tactic puzzle for you my dear reader. Black has just played 17. … Qa5?? White to play and win a piece:
Thanks to Fred Harris and Ron Lohrman for organizing another wonderful Arkport Open. I enjoyed playing and learned some important lessons along the way.