It took me a while to create this post. I wasn’t sure what I should write. Did I play well? Eh, sort of. Did my opponents help? For sure. I suppose I should start at the beginning, a few weeks ago, I played in the first ever, “Central New York” Open. The tournament took place in Syracuse University (GO ORANGE!) in the hall of languages. For those of you who aren’t interested in reading more I won the whole tournament, a full point ahead of my competition. I am now the first ever, “Central NY” Champion. I’m still trying to make sense of what happened that weekend as I’m still in a bit of disbelief.
Before I show you the games, here are some photos I took of the tournament:
In the first round, I played an opponent I’ve played once before. He misplayed the opening and I won in good style. After the game, a local master approached me and exclaimed that I played a nice game. I was grateful for his praise and he would become a de facto “cheerleader” for me throughout the tournament. In this game, we played a line that I have a good deal of experience. I equalized and won a pawn. I converted in reasonable style although I could have played more accurately/aggressively.
The second round was the most critical game of the tournament for me. My opponent is a strong FM from New Jersey who plays in the US Chess League. Of course, I didn’t know much about him before our game and I knew nothing about his playing style/tendencies, I did not do my homework. In our game, we played a line that I’ve been trying to give up playing. I can’t help but feel that this line is the chess equivalent to heroin. It’s bad for you but you continue to do it in the hopes of getting “lucky” against someone good, see below. You may recall that I’ve lost in this line on more than a few occasions including my recent defeat in Canada (game one) to a Canadian NM.
In this game, my opponent played an inaccuracy early in the game, which gave me a good deal more confidence than it should have. He found the best defense and I played some of my moves out of order. We reached a position where he was leisurely picking off my pawns and I was unable to stop him. He demonstrated a much better understanding of the position that we reached than I had. I found some desperate counter-play against his king and he fell for a cheap-o, which allowed me to play an aesthetic knight mate. After the game, he demonstrated a few lines that were labyrinthine and interesting. This was the most complex game of the tournament so the annotations are going to be a bit more loquacious than usual.
The third round game is nothing special, I drew with a local Rochester player and our game fizzled out early to a draw. That said I’m going to skip ahead to the second critical game of my tournament.
In the fourth round, my opponent allowed me to play one of my favorite lines. I’ve given up this playing this line in some situations but my opponent move ordered me into it. It’s amusing, the night before I played a blitz game with the local master mentioned above and we reached the same position as below. In this game, my opponent played what I believe is the most critical reply to this line and we became locked in a tense struggle. At one point, I offered a draw with the hopes that my second round opponent would do my “dirty” work for me. My opponent declined my draw and played a couple of inaccurate moves which, allowed me to mate him.
In the final round, I was a full point ahead of my competition. After the game, I treated myself to some Insomnia cookies and walked around Syracuse a bit. I meandered into a storefront that was selling Syracuse gear. I vowed that if I won my final game that I would return to that store and purchase a sweater that I liked. The only way the other players could catch me was if I were to lose this game. The game was a rather smooth affair for me; I got a good advantage in an opening I know well. After a couple of tactical shots, my opponent resigned and I won the tournament a full point ahead of my competitors.
Winning this tournament is my biggest chess accomplishment to date. For the record, I did purchase that sweater and I got a bunch of cookies and a milkshake for the trip home.