Here are my initial thoughts on the tournament. I will update it later this week and post more comments and all my games. (Edited comment I've added my games now)
I had known about the tourney for some time and had pre-registrared but I didn’t really decide until the vary last moment to go. I had been thinking about taking the whole family and staying in a hotel. That way the kids could play in the unrated active while I played in the Open section – heck, maybe even my wife could be convinced to play in the unrated. On Friday though, I found out the kids were not that keen on the trip, which is unusual since they always enjoy staying in a hotel. So it was on to option two, where I go by myself, but I would only do this if I had a place to billet, since I’m too cheap to spend $$ on a hotel by myself. Around midnight on Friday I sent an email to the organiser asking if there was a billet still available and went to sleep. When I woke up Tyler had replied they would find me a spot so I packed my bags and headed east at 10:00 am Alberta time. The first round had already started so I had to rush to make the second round. 0.5/1
Black vs. Micah Hughey 2190
After arriving I had 15 minutes to see who my opponent was and prepare something plus I had to go to the bathroom. While sitting there thinking I decided not to play the line I had looked at two days earlier when I looked at my previous game with Micah and instead would play a Scandinavian. The reason was that with his superior opening knowledge, I thought it would be better to avoid openings with tons of theory and hundreds of possible traps to fall into. I have only played the Scandinavian in online speed games before and chose the Nf6 line rather than capturing with the Queen because it is rarer. It quickly transposed into a Caro-Kann and even though I was in uncharted territory for myself, I think I played a great game. I gradually took the initiative and I knew I had the advantage when he offered a draw. I didn’t think my advantage was decisive so I accepted because I felt a draw against a 2190 payer is a good start for the tournament. 1/2
White vs. Igor Moshynskyy 1490.
I didn’t know what opening to expect but he played a Philidor. He sacked a pawn in the opening but only had minuscule compensation for it. Eventually reached a B+6p vs. N+5p ending. Came up with a plan to exchange pawns on the kingside so that I could penetrate with my K and help my passed pawn queen. It worked but I’m not sure if it was the best plan as it’s usually better to have pawns on both sides of the board when you have the B. 2/3
Black vs. Jamin Gluckie 2103, (my nemesis)
Found out at the bar on Saturday night that he was my opponent.
I hadn’t prepared anything against Jamin before the tournament. In fact, the people that I did look at their games the week before (Keith, Roy, Micah) I either didn’t play or changed my mind at the last minute, so I spent 20 min preparing something before going to sleep. At the time I thought this was one of the best games I’ve played but after Fritz looked at it I'm not so sure.
Jamin missed a couple of moves. The first time was after several exchanges where I take a pawn rather than retreat my bishop. If he takes the B with his queen he’ll leave his own B hanging. He ended up with some compensation as my position was cramped and defensive for some time but eventually I was able to free myself and hang onto my extra passed pawn. The second time was my Qb3 move which attacked his a4 pawn but more importantly allowed me to put my rook on d1. When I saw this move I saw that if I wanted to I could force the exchange of all the major pieces and leave just a B+6p vs N+5p endgame. I thought my chances of winning that were pretty good and I would eliminate any chance of losing and remove the possibility of any perpetual checks with his queen so that’s what I did. I should have taken more time before exchanging the queens and I would have seen that he had no good move to make and I could have just started marching my passed pawn to it’s queening square. After exchanging queens I was unable to find a way to march my passed pawn with out letting his N ravage my other pawns so I repeated some moves and accepted his draw offer. After the game Jamin was pretty sure I could still win by triangulating my King and the manouvering him into Zugzwang I think he was right but I will check with fritz. 2.5/4
White vs. Rick Pedersen 1908
Jamin decided to withdraw after the fourth round and that changed my pairing from a 1350 player to Rick. I also thought about withdrawing too but I have never played Rick before and since I was playing very well I figured I better keep going. I quickly looked up a few of Rick’s games on the database and saw that he played a Pirc frequently. I have never played against a Pirc before so I planned on playing solid moves and decided I would accept an early draw if it was offered. Unfortunately Rick was in the running for prize money and was out for my kings blood. I played too quickly, maybe because it was the final round, and too passively. Plus I made the mistake to castle long which didn’t match the passive way I played the game. I opened up a file for his rook and then was killed in a typical queen + rook + rook attack. I could see the end coming for quite a while but couldn’t find the moves to prevent it. The only good thing was that it was over quickly and I got home at a reasonable hour. 2.5/5
Overall I was very happy with my play, except for the last game. I played new openings for me in almost every game and for the most part played them well. On the other hand I realized there is a couple of things I need to work on. I need to learn how to defeat high rated opponents when I have advantage. I am too willing to accept draws from experts in superior position. Plus I'm still too weak on my openings. Rp=1923 and new rating should be 1807 (back over 1800) but it should have been better.
Keith MacKinnon won the tourney with 4.5/5, his only blemish was aquick draw against his buddy Kevin in round 4. Therefore my first prediction for 2009 came true. A second prediction should also have come true if I would have been able to finish of Jamin when I had the chance. Rick Pederesen came clear second with 4/5.
Thanks to Igor for putting me up for the night and thanks to the Saskatoon Chess Club for hosting a very strong event.