Believe it or not, the most crucial position in the entire tournament occurred right here in round one:
I'm black in this position and my opponent just played played 14. g4. How can a position from round one be the most crucial one in the entire tournament? Because this was where I had a serious argument with the demons that dog me when I think I'm losing. I'm staring at this position and thinking to myself, "I am so busted here. He's going to put his queen on h4, and push g5. How am I supposed to stop this mating attack? I can't believe this crap! I'm the highest rated in this section and I'm going to lose in the first round to a freaking 1465. I knew I should have played in the Open Section. I suck. How could this be happening already? I'm tired of getting these crappy positions from random openings."
If I had continue to follow that train of thought I probably would have simply rolled over and let him blow my king side apart. Emotionally I'm not sure I would have recovered from allowing myself to get crushed in the first round. Finally I told myself not to give up so easily and try to find something to do in the position. I finally decided on 14...Ne4. I knew it was going to lose a pawn, but I felt I had to do something to keep the queen off of h4, and give me a little more space. It wasn't really the best move, but it showed I was willing to take chances to mix things up a bit. I could have played 14... dxe3 15. Qxe3 Nd5 16. Qf2 Bd6 17. Qh4 h6 18. g5 f6 19. gxf6 Nxf6.
The game actually continued 15. d3Nd6 16. exd4 cxd4 17. Bxd4 Nc8 18. Bb2 Bc5+ 19. Kf1 f6 20. Nf3 Qxf4, reaching this position.
I thought awhile about 20...Qxf4, and decided I was not afraid of 21. Qxe6+ His attack has petered out and my bishop pair is aiming right at his king. Even though I'm still down a pawn I'm quite happy with my position. He hasn't developed his knight, I have an annoying pin on his f3 knight and his king is still exposed. The game continued 21...Kh8 22. Qf5 Qxf5 23. gxf5 Ne7 24. d4 Bxf3 Here I give up the bishop pair to win back my pawn.
25. Rxf3 Bxd4 26. c3 Be5 27. Ba3? I didn't think that was such a good move for him. It chases my rook to a useful square, and takes away the only safe square for his knight which still has not moved.
27...Rfe8 28. Kg2 Rd1 29. Bc5 b6 30. Bd4 Bxd4 31. cxd4 Rxd4 32. Na3 He finally moves the knight, but it cost him a pawn to free it up, and my rook is dominating the open d file. As soon as I move my knight my rook on e8 will get into the action too. 32...Rd2+ 33. Kh3 Nd5 34. Rc1 h6 35. Nc4 Ra2 36. Kh4 Rxh2+ 37.Kg4 Ree2 38. Rg3?? This moves loses out right. Rd3 avoids mate, though I still have an excellent game after 38. Rd3 h5+ 39. Kf3 Rh3+ 40. Kxe2 Nf4+ 41. Kd2 Rxd3+ His actual moves leads to a quick end. 38... h5+ 39. Kf3 Rhf2#
I felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted off my back. My four game losing streak was over, and I had won the mind games being played between myself and my inner pessimist. "Winners never quit. Quitters never win. I'm not a quitter. I'm a winner!" Now I was ready to really try to win this section that I was number one in. One round down, five to go.