Monday, October 15, 2007

My Western States Open: An Epic Struggle for the Ages

Hey, when you have your own blog you get to pick the titles!

Perhaps it wasn't quite that dramatic, but as a matter of fact all the plans I had made regarding scheduling, preparing, having some relaxation between rounds, etc. basically went completely by the boards, I barely made it into the tournament, had to takes byes in Rounds 1 and 2, got swatted like a bug in Round 3; and yet, and the time Round 6 ended I'd scored wins in Round 4 and 5 and an honorable draw in Round 6, made an 1800 performance for the tournament and picked up about 40 rating points to get to around 1650.

And, I got to spend some supremely enjoyable time with chessloser and his lovely and talented wife, which was a much finer experience than the chess playing itself. The series of mishaps and emergencies that almost caused me to miss the tournament probably deserve their own post--chessloser and wife definitely deserve their own post. These will follow, but right now I'll just briefly report on the games in my own inimitable "narrative" fashion--I'll annotate and post them separately, as well. Hell, the next six posts will probably be about the tournament--anyway:

Game 1 (Round 3)--I show up not as rested or prepared as I would like, but happy that I got to play at all. The opponent is a young guy sporting a 1711 rating; as White, he plays 1. e4, I go Center-Counter, he gets a strong pawn center but I think I'm okay, then on move 22 he shows good tactical skill, plays d6 to divert me, blows open the kingside and I resign on move 32.

One thing I noticed about this tournament that was very good, though, is that I didn't get too high or too low, really did a pretty good job of just playing chess, not worrying too much about who was better, what might have happened earlier in the game, etc. So:

Game 2 (Round 4)--I play Black again, against a senior citizen from Vegas rated 1700. He plays 1. g4 (and as it turns out, all my opening knowledge is basically useless for the rest of the tournament). I think he has an edge around move 20, at move 30 he offers a draw even though I'm a little low on time (17 minutes for 11 moves), I sense some weakness, refuse, and I outplay him, go two pawns ahead, then on move 38 he tries a desperation trap, I play a cute move to avoid it and he resigns.

Game 3 (Round 5)--Middle-aged guy from Oakland (1681) shows up 10 minutes late looking a little bleary, I have White, go 1. d4 and his first 8 moves are...(wait for it)...h6, a6, e6, d6, Qd7, f6, Qf7, c6; I know this is a "Hippo" or some damned thing, I do my best not to go nuts, and he somehow wiggles around to an acceptable if slightly inferior position with both sides castled 0-0-0, I have some pressure, on move 29 he thinks for 26 minutes and plays a move that I thought was bad--it was, six moves later he's looking at mate in 2--resigns.

Game 4 (Round 6)--Slightly younger guy from Texas (1753), I'm Black for the third time in four games, he avoids my King's Indian Defense and plays the "Barry Attack," I respond sensibly and don't get intimidated by his kingside pawn storm, arrange to block things permanently there. He offers a draw on move 25, any advantage I have is microscopic, so to finish a very good tournament for me--draw agreed.

Enough for now, more to come.


chessloser said...

i'm so glad you got to play, and you did have a nice ending to a tumultuous tournament. meeting up with you made the whole thing worth it...

Blue Devil Knight said...

Congrats, sounds like a good performance.

wang said...

Congratulations on a solid performance.

Although I have to say that you too kept me waiting too long for the first post. I've been dyin' over here!

I look forward to hearing more about the tourney.

Eric Shoemaker said...

Hi Robert, good performance. Look forward to seeing you at the club. See you there!

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