The only time I ever beat a USCF Master in a tournament game was strange brew indeed; I had been playing well in the previous weeks and was really looking forward to the game, but my opponent, Bill Davis, a 20-something guy who had passed 2200 a few months earlier, looked kind of distraught, or perhaps had been drinking or something...anyway, he didn't look happy to be there.
I had been studying the heck out of the Exchange Variation of the Queen's Gambit around this time, and his 7. ...b6 was a big surprise. It was a move that in similar situations had led to many brilliant victories by Pillsbury and Marshall back around the turn of the (20th) century. I knew it couldn't be good, so I buckled down and calculated the game line to the win of a pawn; except I guess he didn't want to lose that pawn...and allowed a mate in one. I was so shocked and even dismayed that I got up from the board instead of playing the mate, took a turn around the room to calm my nerves and when I came back he was gone, the clock stopped. I guess I was subconsciously giving him a chance to resign instead of getting mated inside of 10 moves, and he did.
I went on to defeat two USCF Experts (2000+) in the following months but this remains my only defeat of a Master. I've never felt any deep satisfaction with it, naturally. I think I need to go and get another...
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