Sunday, January 13, 2013

WBXmas Team Tournament

Once again I entered a tournament at the last possible moment.  The Weekend Before Xmas tournament is the last tournament of the year in the Alberta chess calendar.  The format is different than all the other tournaments because it is a team tournament.   I have never participated in a team event before and I was curious as to what it would be like.  Teams are made up of three players with an average rating of 2000.  A couple of days before the start there were two players that still needed a board two player around my rating so I volunteered and joined Rocket Rob Gardner and David Yao on team “???”- we never got around to agreeing on a name.

Round 1:

Friday night the round one pairings were posted and I saw we were paired against the top rated team consisting of Jack Yoos (2360), Micah Hughey (2084), and Zach Kirsch (1563) so I would be playing Micah Hughey as white.  Micah was the highest rated board 2 player so it he would be my toughest opponent.   I have played him several times before and he always played aggressive openings against me so I decided to try something aggressive against him – The King’s Gambit!?  I was pleased with how I played and I was happy with the result – a draw.  Unfortunately my teammates both lost so the result was 0.5-2.5.

Round 2:

We were paired against IM EdwardProper’s (2487) team with Jamil Kassem (1917) and Armine Arzumanyan (1490).  I played young Jamil in July and was lucky to beat him.  He definitely has the potential to be a great player.  I have noticed that during this game and the previous game he spends a lot of time not looking at the board while it’s his turn.  Either he analyzes moves in his head or he is getting distracted.  I played another good game and was able to simplify the position into what I knew should be a winning king and pawn endgame for me.  Unfortunately, due to poor understanding of how to play the position, I wasn’t able to convert and had to take a draw.  My teammates both lost their games so the result was another 0.5-2.5 and overall 1.0-5.0.

Round 3:

We were paired against the lowest rated team of Terry Seehagen (1753), George Sponga (1797), and Andu Mihulescu (1632).  My wife had come with me to Edmonton to do some Christmas shopping on the weekend.  I asked the organizer if he knew of anyone that could fill in for me on Saturday night so my wife and I could have a night on the town.  He was able to get Ron Erikson (1886) to fill in.  Unfortunately Ron's opponent, George, had to go to the hospital that night and so some rearranging to the pairings had to be done.  I found out the next day that George had to withdraw from the tournament but I hear he is fine now.  I think we ended up winning both games that were played.  2.0-0.0 and overall 3.0-6.0.

 Round 4

Paired against the team of Richard Wang (2454 and Canada Junior champion), Harris Wang (1855), and Tristan Tan-Ly (1500).  I was feeling pretty good about my play but cautious of my opponent as he is Richard’s brother and probably stronger than his rating. I played a good game down to an equal Knight and pawns endgame.  At that point I was confident it was a draw and honestly I stopped thinking.  My opponent didn’t and I blundered into a loss.  Both my teammates also lost so it was 0.0-3.0 and overall 3.0-9.0

Round 5:

We were paired against FM Vladimir Pechenkin (2438), Rob Brazeau (1825), and Joseph Young (1665).  I played the opening horribly against Rob and I spent all my time unsuccessfully trying to remember lines that I had studied 3 months earlier.  When the middle game came I was short on time and down a pawn.  I tried to open up the Kingside and was successful.  I even managed to get a winning position but was too short of time and too frustrated to see the winning lines.  I think if I was playing online blitz I would have played the position better.  The Rocket drew his game against Vlad but David lost so we were once again 0.5-2.5 and overall finished at 3.5-11.5

My last game was frustrating and a couple of late game blunders spoiled what could have been a good result for me (possibly 3-1 instead of 1-3) but I can’t say I was disappointed with my level of play.  Our team result was pretty bad (we ended up second last out of ten teams) but I was amazed at how much I enjoyed the experience.  Having teammates definitly puts a different feel into your games - more than I expected.  You are not only fighting for yourself but also for your teammates.  I would definitely do it again.

The Tourney was won by my fellow Lloydminster-ite Jamin Gluckie’s (2200) team of Lukas Beaudry (2047) from Calgary, and Jason Danner (1702) from Saskatoon with 11.0 points.  I didn’t find out until Sunday that Jamin and Jason were in a roll-over on Friday on their way into Edmonton.  The accident wrote off Jamin’s truck and sent them both to the hospital for X-rays.  They were in pain all weekend with multiple bruises but still were able to play great chess.  My wife and I gave them a ride back to Lloydminster on Sunday night and she was amazed that they still played in the tournament after a serious accident.  I am glad she got to see that I am not the most chess-crazy person she has met. lol.

Any comments are welcome - especially critical comments about my games.

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