Monday, November 23, 2009

Southern Alberta Open Results

Just finished the tournament this afternoon. (I tried to post this yesterday but the hotels internet conection wasn’t working) Here are my results:

Round 1 - Black vs. Kim Nguyen (2082).
I played the Scandinavian w/ 2...Nf6. I think I could have equalized early with c5 but I made my Nc6 move immediately and then saw that c5 was probably best. I played the opening badly and then followed up by playing the rest of the game poorly. Kim was playing well throughout the weekend and ended up winning the tournament by beating Dale Haessel in the last round.

Round 2 - White vs. Mike Scholz (1431)
I was looking for blood and played the King's gambit and tried to make the game as complicated as possible. He offered me a draw several times and when I made it clear I wasn't going to take a draw, he resigned. Apparently he had somewhere else he had to go, but we hadn't even played 20 moves yet. I think when he resigned he might have been better, since I hadn't been able to create an effective attack for my pawn yet, but I was still looking for something to sac.

Round 3 - Black vs. Aaron Sequillion (1994)

I played the Scandinavian with Qd6. I chose this variation after talking over some openings with Roy Yearwood in-between rounds. I decided to castle long and try to storm his king. Once again I didn't play the opening very well and eventually lost a pawn and was most likely lost, but Aaron let me create some counterplay against his King but he managed to escape and wrap up the win. Aaron is much stronger now than when I played him last time two years ago (even if he has lost 100 points after gaining 300)

After the first day I was not very happy with my play. My opening play was bad and I just didn't feel sharp at all. I wasn't calculating very well and seemed to miss many of my opponents moves. I was choosing openings that I wanted to try out, but I didn't know them well enough to play them effectively or well enough to follow through with a middle game plan. I decided that on the final day I would scrap my plan to try out more new openings (like the 2.c3 Sicilian that Roy also suggested) and stick with the openings I played years ago and so that even if I didn't remember the moves I would at least have familiarity with the positions and be able to come up with a plan.

Round 4 - White vs. Hemant Persaud (1744)
Hemant is actually a fairly strong player who seems to me to have some bad habits that cause him to be underrated. He plays very fast and lets himself be distracted throughout the game. In this tournament I believe he was winning in 4 of his games but let 3 of them slip away. I played a closed Sicilian and once again I chose to castle long and storm the kingside in an all out win or lose attack. He managed to breakthrough first. I miscalculated my defence and then had to give up the exchange and trade my remaining major pieces and although I tried to create counterplay, I didn't have enough material left to be successful. Hemant also has another habit that was quite annoying during the game. He was constantly adjusting the pieces and half the time he did it, it was my turn. A couple of times I was deep in thought and he would come back from walking around and sit down and say "adjust" while wiggling three or four pieces. I was going to say something to him in the middle of the game, but I decided it wasn't intentional and instead started counting them. I estimated that he did it 20 times! I meant to bring it up after the game but I had to run out between rounds to eat and then forgot about it until now. If your reading this Hament you need to stop this habit.


Round 5 - White vs. Chris White (1768)

He played the French Defence and exchanged on e4. I sacked my Knight on f7 for two pawns and then I traded my Rook and Bishop for his Queen. This lead to his King being in the center and I was able to use my remaining Bishop, Rook, and Queen effectively to wrap up the win. This was my most enjoyable game, mainly because I was chasing his King around.


Overall not the result I wanted, but probably what I deserved considering I did no preparation. It's curious that three of my opponents brought up the fact that I play very aggressively. They say your style of chess should match your personality, but mine seems to be the opposite, since I am generally pragmatically cautious. Maybe I need to look at adjusting my perspective during tournament games or maybe I just wasn't taking this tournament very seriously.
Update. I've posted my games now. The last game was fun and so I ended on a good note.  I went back to the Calgary chess club again on Tuesday night and participated in their speed chess tounament. Even though I'm not a great speed chess player, I managed to share the under 1700 prize with 2 others (Tony and ??).  I was shut out by Martin Robichaud and an unknown Graham ??, who showed up late and then won 7/8.


Jamin said...

Nice write-up. Looking forward to seeing some games.

I've often gone through phases where I will come to a tournament with an idea like, "I'm feeling particularly aggressive today, so I will create complications, attack relentlessly and win in brilliant fashion." Or, when I'm not feeling particularly in form, "I feel like my tactics are lacking today (should have done some puzzles last night...), so I will play ultra positionally and slowly squeeze my opponent until he cracks". For what its worth, I don't think either of these mindsets are good for one's game. In all phases of a chess game you have to make the move that the position demands, regardless of the strength of your opponent or how you happen to be feeling that day.

If you always strive to make the best moves your results will improve, and if you're anything like me, after losing because you lashed out recklessly, you might be more willing to analyze the game objectively at home without copping out by convincing yourself that, "I only lost because I played too aggressively - on any normal day I could crush that guy", etc.

Jeremy Silman often remarks that a lot of 1800-ish players only ever attack the king, even though their position might call for a queenside initiative to create a weakness, or a prophylactic move to take away their opponent's counterplay. I'm not sure if this applies to you, but it may be worth some thought. One exercise I would recommend to test this out is to pick up a copy of Silman's Reassess Your Chess (or his Reassess Your Chess Workbook) and complete a couple of his "Find the best move" puzzles. If your solution varies significantly from the IM's, perhaps you'll have a good idea where to focus your chess studies.

TerryC said...

Thanks for the comments Jamin. Once again your observations of my play are spot on. During the tournament I was not really looking for the best move but rather trying to force the game to go a certain way.
Silman's book sounds like it might be quite helpful to me. When I look at my middle game play, my plans rarely invole anything other than threatening my opponents king.

Jamin said...

If you haven't read Reassess Your Chess yet, you definitely should. About 13 years ago I was around 1300-strength and I used to attend the Lloydminster Chess Club's meetings downtown where Kevin's Computing is now. At that time there was an 1800-ish player named Allan Theriault who used to beat me relentlessly. One day, after a particularly bad beating, he leant me a copy of How To Reassess Your Chess by Silman and told me that if I read that book every 6 months for a few years, he would never be able to beat me so badly again.

The chess club met once per week, and for 7 days straight I read that book until it was finished and I returned it to Allan at the club's next meeting. That night we played 4 games of 2 min + 12 sec per move and I beat him 3-1. Silman truly helped me understand chess at a higher level than I ever did prior.

There is a disclaimer to this story, though. I have read Reassess Your Chess about 4 times in the last 13 years, and each time except for one my chess results improved because of it. The one exception came prior to the 2007 Canadian Open in Montreal. In order to prepare for that event I reread Silman again and had a disastrous tournament. I attribute this to the fact that Silman doesn't teach you how to calculate (he clearly states that calculation techniques are not the goal of his book), and so instead of calculating during my games I got lazy and only looked at the positions intuitively. Frankly, I probably do this more than I should and not even realize it until I am up against someone who is strong enough to beat me.

So, read Silman to improve, but don't forget to calculate! You're welcome to borrow my copy if you haven't bought your own already.

TerryC said...

I'll take you up on your offer and borrow your book.

Jamin said...

I took a quick look at your games and I found a few of your comments interesting because, frankly, I disagree with them! For what it's worth, here they are:

In your game with Sequillion after 9.Be3 you played 9...e6, which IMO doesn't do anything for your position. Ok, if you could get your queen to e7 with white's queen still on d1 you might have the e5 lever to put more pressure on d4, but did you think Aaron would just let you do that? I don't know the opening theory on this line, but based on the fact that you are castled on opposite sides all that really matters is who successfully attacks first. With that in mind, why not ...h5 immediately? White should play h4 in response, and then you can try to get in g5 (with something like Nd5, f6, Rg8, g5 - or omit the Rg8 and sac a pawn), or you could play Qe6 with idea of exchanging light squared bishops and of getting your queen to f5 where it puts more pressure on f3, prepares the e5 break and supports the g5 push.

I didn't like how Sequillion weakened his king's position with h3 and g4, and you're right that a timely h5 would have punished him for it, but I disliked your b5 even more! That was suicide!

In your round 4 game after you played 24.Ng4 you said, "Hoping that he wouldn't exchange his B for this N". You have to expect your opponents to play the best move - hoping that he will play an inferior move doesn't work. If you were concerned that he would favourably exchange B for N, why not play 22.Bh3 to create a favourable exchange of your own? After all, it's your bad bishop and his good one, and after the exchange you can continue with your knight hopping into g4-f6 and pushing h5. Of course, you'd also have to tend to your weakened king position at the same time as you executed your plan.

Your round 5 game was fairly clean - it seems you do well when you have natural, clear-cut attacking positions (as you did against White). If you want more of those types of positions, 1.d4 is the way to go :)

TerryC said...

Agaist Sequillion I thought 9...e6 was a logical move and to me it still seems ok now. I admit that b5 was a horrible move and even when I made it I thought it was dubious - so why did I do it? I'm not sure but it was the third game of the day and like I said I don't think I was "sharp" all weekend.

Against Hemant when I made my 24.Ng4 move I had determined that he wouldn't exchange. I did not spend alot of time evaluating the exchange before comming to that conclusion though. It was only after making my move and while I was re-examining his possibilties that I changed my evauluation and then I was "hoping" he would't exchange.

I must confess that I have at times in the past deliberatly not chosen the strongest move but instead made an inferior move that laid a trap, if I thought my opponent might stumble. The odds that this strategy will work of course vary inversly with the strength of the opponent.