This past weekend I played in the 20th annual Bradley Open. It was a strange event for me and was quite the roller coaster. It was a smorgasbord of a tournament. Generally there is a theme to the way I play in a given tournament. This tournaments theme was potpourri; everything that could happen did happen. Let me explain; in the first round I was “lucky” enough to be paired with a GM. I was hoping I would get paired with GM Yusupov. Apparently he is playing in small events in the northeast now? Instead I got paired with GM Alexander Ivanov. I find that playing GM Ivanov is a strange experience. I feel like each of our games follow a similar pattern:
- I get a slightly worse position out of the opening.
- The position becomes unclear and double-edged.
- We both mismanage our time (me more so).
- In zeitnot I realize I’m probably lost.
- I resign.
This game was no exception to the “format”. I feel like I had more chances last time and the game was less one-sided. I got demolished this game. I was pretty discouraged and irritated with myself. For reference here is the last game we played:
And here is the demolition job from this past weekend:
After that first round catastrophe I was doubting my tournament selection. In this next game my opponent’s supplemental rating was 1965. His actual/live rating was ~2050. It may seem unimportant to you the reader. Those rating inaccuracies tend to compound over the course of a tournament. It takes a toll on you to draw players that you think are ~150 points lower rated than you. It messes with your psyche and confidence. Had I known I was actually playing people that were roughly my strength, I wouldn’t have felt bad about my draws.
In this game, I once again played far too slowly and meticulously. I got what I believed was a winning position but only left myself about a minute to convert it. I went in for a repetition after declining an earlier draw offer. I felt I was completely winning. After I reviewed the game with the computer I see I had only a slight edge at the end:
So if that past game was an example of me drawing when I thought I was winning. This next game is a good example of me making a draw when I thought I was losing. After the game my opponent was optimistic about my position. It was clear to me that neither of us knew what was going on as we played out variations after the game. One side would get some advantage. We would then back-track only to find the other side with an advantage. It’s funny that we both missed White’s strongest continuation even in our post-Morten.
My fourth round game was a joyous occasion. I played marvelously. I found an idea that I use a lot on ICC in the three-minute pool. It involves sacrificing a pawn to stop your opponent from castling. Once they accept the “bait” they’re busted and the king has nowhere to hide:
With that win I was ecstatic. I knew that if I won one more game I’d likely be in the running for some prize money. Additionally my goal for the tournament was to finish above .500 (3/5). I had my goal within reach. All I had to do was win against a master who appeared to be having a tough tournament. The game is quite labyrinthine. Each side had numerous possible candidate moves. And each candidate move had three or four paradoxical branches. I was in my element. Lately I’ve been reading Bronstein’s autobiography. I felt that the only real way to pay homage was to sacrifice my queen. When the chance arose I sacrificed her and entered the maze of variations. This game is the chess equivalent of an epic tale. It’s filled with intrigue, comedy and tragedy. Gather round children as we examine the most disappointing game I’ve played in months: