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.

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