Last year around this time, I recounted the story of my woeful performance in the 21st Annual Thursday Night Action Championship. Luck would have it that my second tournament back from my 9 day hiatus from chess would be the 22nd Annual Thursday Night Action Championship. Would it be another year of three games, three losses, good bye and good night? Follow along and you will find out just how my night went.
Once again Andre Harding was assisting Steve with the entries. He takes my money and says " Do I have to ask? Under 2200?"
"Yes, Under 2200 and that is all I have to say about it. No predictions after last year's disaster." He remembers last year, so no further explanation was necessary. This year's tournament was even bigger then last year's. There were 36 players in the Open, not counting a re-entry and a house player, and 48 in the Under 2200 not counting a re-entry. The tournament took over every bit of playing space in the club both upstairs and downstairs. The Open section had 20 players rated 2200 or higher. That meant even the lowest rated player at 1462 got paired against a master. Yes, if I had chosen to play up there would have been three players below me on the wallchart.
When I think about it, if I had played in that section the ratings of my opponents probably would not have been much different then they are on many Thursday nights. Most Thursdays I end out playing a master or high expert, a couple of 1900s and some random player rated anywhere from 1600 downwards. This tournament I would have played a low 2200, an expert, an A player and probably would have gotten the bye in round 4 or played one of the 1600s.
In the Under 2200 section I got paired against a 2040. It was an interesting game, and even though I lost I felt I made it some what challenging for him. I made a couple of small mistakes in the form of poor piece placement so I wasted a lot of time trying to untangle the mess I had made. Here's the game.
This year's tournament was bottom heavy so I knew that in round two I would get paired down. I ended out playing a kid who I've played a number of times before, and also know from a chess camp that I assisted at the past two summers. Having played a lot of blitz with him at chess camp, I'm very familiar with how he plays. He tends to play very cautiously trying for a draw, and is quick to resign as soon as he's down more then a minor piece. He's not one of those kids who plays to the bitter end. Every time I've played him in a tournament I've always been surprised how quickly he gives up when behind.
Being familiar with how he plays dictated how I went about playing the game. I was not surprised that he played a fairly quiet line against my Accelerated Dragon, allowing me to get in an early d5. He seemed to be willing to make trades that allowed me to weaken his king side pawns. It looked like he was trying not to take too many chances, and perhaps simplify to a drawish ending. I made a number of minor threats on his pawns that were easily parried, but he had taken the most passive approach to his defense allowing me to eventually pick up a couple of pawns. At the end he allowed me to trade off his very advanced b pawn for my previously backward f pawn. Here's that game.
After two rounds I had more points then I had scored in last year's tournament. I was actually satisfied with my play, and thought perhaps my Taekwondo focused chess hiatus had done me some good. I had stayed focused during both games, and felt I had managed my time fairly well. So how would I fare in round three?
Stay tuned. Tomorrow I will discuss the last two rounds.