Monday, July 30, 2012

Vacation Chess

When you are on a family vacation and you want to take in a chess tournament also there are three rules to consider: 1. Don’t PO your wife; 2. Don’t PO your wife; and 3. Don’t PO your wife. With that in mind I made sure I got permission and I made sure that the wife and kids had something to do before I registered in the UPEI in Prince Edward Island on July 27-29th.

The UPEI Open is an annual summer tournament held at my old alma mater, the University of Prince Edward Island. Fred McKim is the organizer and it’s biggest claim to fame is that IM Tom O’Donnell plays in it every year. Four years ago I joined the tournament and had a good game against him in the first round. You can see that game in my Aug 2008 blog entry.

Round 1: This year I was at the bottom of the top half of the field (instead of the top of the bottom half in 2008) so instead of an IM I had an unrated junior for my first game. I was able to win with little difficulty. 1/1.

Round 2: I was paired down with David Paulowich (1805) who took a bye in round 1. I was glad he showed up otherwise I would have been paired with one of two Sowa brothers from RI who play in the tournament most years and who also took a round 1 bye. They are rated 1700 in the US but only 1200-1300 in Canada and they are improving very rapidly. Like most grumpy adults who want to protect their rating, I fear playing underrated juniors. My game with David was an even game until he missed a simple tactic that wins the exchange for me and he resigned 1 move later. So far - so good – two relatively easy wins 2/2.

Round 3: I had to wait until the last game finished to find out if I would be playing a 2000+ player or one of the US brothers who won their games. I ended up playing Richard Bowes (2080). It was a good game. I think I had the better position throughout the game but he had some initiative. I forced him to have doubled pawns and then he un-doubled them at the cost of leaving me with a B vs. his N plus the major pieces. He offered a draw after move 30 and I accepted. I should have looked longer at the position I might have realized that I could improve my position but he couldn’t. 2.5/3

Round 4: I had asked for a bye when I entered the tournament (see the 3 rules above) so I had ¾.

Round 5: I was going to withdraw because we had a family meal planned for 5 PM (see above rules again) but the organizer said that he could arrange a faster time control with my partner and start a little earlier if I wanted. I accepted so I played Jason Manley (2026) on board two. I played a good game that I should have drawn but I made two mistakes that cost me the game. Maybe the faster time control was a factor but more likely just poor end game skill. If I won I would have finished solo second behind IM O’Donnell, if I drew I would have tied. I finished at 3/5 and probably gained some more rating points.

A draw in the last game would probably have put me over 1900 for the first time in almost 20 years - a win for sure would have done it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Second Sober Thought (Edm Intl)

On second sober thought I find that I was very lucky to end up with 2.5/5 points.  I probably only deserved 0.5.

In game 1 the position where I thought I might win was as follows with white to play:

I played 36. a5 and instantly regretted it as I gave up the a5-e1 diagonal.  36. Bf2 is better but it does not win.  It should hold the draw easier.

Later on in the game I completely lost concentration and played 50. Rxd3 missing the fact I would lose my bishop.

Instead 50. Kxf7 d2 51. Bxd2 Bxd2 52. a6 offers the best chance.

In game 2 against Jamil we had the following position:

I played 20. Nc1?? because I didn't even see the discovered check after 20...c4.  20 Be3 was needed.

Later on Jamil lost after making some small mistakes and then blundering with 39...Qc8??  
which loses the Knight to 40. Qf2+.  I didn't deserve half a point let alone a win.

In game 3 I was just outplayed and lost.

In game 4 I was lost most of the game.  In the following position white could sac the Knight on f5 and mate will follow.

Fortunately white didn't pull the trigger for the next 3 moves and I somehow untangled myself and counter attack with my queen.   34. Ng3? Be8 35. Re7? Qd8 36.Rb7? Qc8 37.Ra7? Qc1.  Somehow I equalized the position and then happily forced a draw.  I never noticed that at the end I had a win available after 64 Nb2??

I played 65. Ra7 Rb3 but missed the simple 66.Ba3! winning the exchange.  Instead I played Be7 and offered a draw after my next move.

Game 5 was probably the most disappointing for me.  My opponent played an incorrect tactic in the opening on move 18 and I was winning.  Over the next 66 moves I must have blown my win with bad moves about 6 times but luckily my opponent played worse.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Edmonton International

It's been over a year since I played in a regular rated event but this long weekend I played in the Edmonton International Reserves section. Originally I planned on traveling to Edmonton with the whole family for the three day tourney, but when my mother-in-law became sick my wife had to stay home so I changed my plans and intended to go by myself for 2 days and then withdraw.

Day 1

Got up early in the morning and made the 3 hr trip into Edmonton for the 10 AM start.

Round One: I was paired as white against Aaron Sequillion (2099 CFC, 2012 FIDE). I was playing a good game and I believe I had a winning position at one point but I haven't reviewed any of the games yet so I will reserve judgment for now. Later I blundered my bishop for two pawns, but I still had a draw but even though I saw it I played something else and lost the game in 64 moves. I will post all the games later this week.

Round Two: I was paired as white against young junior Jamil Kassem (1854 CFC, 1906 FIDE). He won a pawn off me out of the opening, but I had compensation. I went over the game with him afterwards and it's amazing how we saw the game differently. I thought I was struggling for a draw after dropping the pawn, but he felt that taking the pawn was a mistake and that he was the one who was behind. Later on I was able to create pressure and eventually he surrendered a piece on move 41 and resigned so I guess he was the one who was correct.

After round two I had to change my hotel plans. I had forgotten my medicine at home and needed to travel the 3 hrs back to Lloyd. I considered withdrawing but decided instead to repeat my long day one more time.

Day 2 (Canada Day)

Again had to get up early and travel 3 hr to make the 10 AM start

Round Three: I was paired as black against David Miller (2092 CFC, 2049 FIDE). He had bus trouble and was more than a half hour late. I played a Petroff and came out of the opening in good shape. After that I was outplayed and resigned at the time control on move 40.

Round Four: I was paired as black again against Jared Young (UNR) He played very aggressively in a strange opening and I played too passively. Eventually I became cramped with all my pieces around my king preventing immediate disaster and a pawn down. I think he missed two chances to sac a piece and win but I fought hard and was able to free my queen for a counter attack and equalize. We agreed to a draw on move 66 and once again I was the last game to finish.

Before I had a chance to withdraw, they had me paired for the final round, so I talked to my wife and unbelievably decided to make the trek one more time. I made it back to Lloyd at 11 PM just in time to make it to the park for the Canada Day fireworks and get to bed at 12:30

Day 3

Packed up the whole family and for the third day in a row made the trek into the big city. Luckily the final round didn't start until 11 AM so had an extra hour sleep. My wife dropped me off at the chess club and headed to the mall for a day of shopping.

Round Five: I was paired as white against Kevin Smith (1801 CFC). We played a Spanish and at one point he played a tactic that backfired and I won a pawn and then had two passed pawns on the queenside. I was able to force trading down to what I thought was an easily won rook and pawn endgame with an extra pawn but I managed to blow it several times. Luckily for me my opponent blew his draw just as many times and I won in 83 moves (once again the last game to finish). I kind of dread analyzing this game because I am sure I will find many mistakes in the long endgame but it should be instructive.

Overall: 18 hrs travelling and 24 hrs at the chess board. Needless to say I am exhausted as I type this. I finished with 2.5/5 which is OK since I was one of lower rated players in the section. They were scoring on a 3 point win system and 1 point draw (same as in the International section) so I had 7 points.

Nigel Short won the International section as expected but did suffer one loss. I don't know who won the reserves or under 1700 sections. Rob Gardner scored an IM norm with a great tourney including a short win over GM Kovalyov.