Apparently, I have stamina problems. The blitz tournament went far better than expected, but then one tough draw in rapid time control, and all my energy was zapped. I was able to rally by Game 4, but this was certainly not my best effort.
I spent drizzly Super Bowl Sunday indoors, playing at the Tysons Corner Action and Blitz tournaments hosted by DMV Chess. I’ve been to this regular tournament often, with middling but always rewarding results. However, this was my first time also attending their earlier blitz tournament, my second ever.
I didn’t expect to win the blitz tournament, and I didn’t, but I came within a half point hair. Instead, I ended in a 3-way tie for 2nd place, and 3rd place overall after tiebreaks. Facing opponents far more skilled than myself, including my friendly rival Don MacLean, I managed to pull out an excellent 7.0/10 points.
The blitz tournament was double-pairing, meaning I played two games against each opponent. It started out slow, trading wins against my first two opponents, before sweeping the next two. While the games were interesting, I couldn’t tell you how I won (or lost) them, except in one notable game. Still, I greatly enjoyed the pace and casual nature of the ordeal. Faster chess favors intuition over calculation, and as such favors me. My last opponent was the eventual winner, but I still won our first game. The confidence from that win went a long way in our second game. However, just as the defensive tango started getting spicy, I hung a back-rank mate. I lost out on the $100 and settled, quite happily mind you, for third. I credit hosting the weekly Bishops and Beers open chess night for my blitz success.
During the intermission between tournaments, Don and I went for a walk to get a late lunch. Two other players from the blitz tournament drove by and offered us a ride to a nearby restaurant. This was their first tournament ever, and it was exciting to chat with new faces. We talked about and played a game over a quick meal, before hurrying back for the rapid tournament. After talking with me and Don, the pair also decided to try out the rapid tournament!
Game one was a tense affair. I felt safe throughout the opening as white’s minor pieces tripped over his pawns, but he still didn’t give me a way in. That changed after we traded queens and I got the opportunity for a pawn to break through. We picked up the pace as my opponent’s clocked ticked lower and lower. It soon reached a scant 2 seconds on the clock to my 3 minutes. His endgame was stronger than his middlegame, even while living on the 5 second delay. We at last reached a dreaded queen vs. rook endgame, in my favor. While I had studied this very endgame before, I couldn’t figure out the method over the board. The game ended with a stalemate trap, with a crowd of onlookers watching me flail.
The worst part about long games is that you have no time before the next round. Which probably led to game two being such a rollercoaster. It started strong, as I locked his pieces behind his pawns. To save a bishop, I threatened to sacrifice the other for a repetition. My opponent, rated 300 points higher than me, did not allow the draw. Instead, his counterattack threw me into a tight position. To exploit his advantage, he sacrificed a rook for a mating attack. However, he again allowed a chance for a repetition. Now a rook up, and holding, I felt like I could do better than a draw. I was wrong, and I lost.
Game three was a sorry affair that I am not proud of. All I could think of was how I was outplayed in last game, and distracted by a mechanical humming sound in constant one second bursts. Even with ear plugs in, or perhaps because of it, I couldn’t keep my mind off that humming and oh there goes my knight. I resigned far earlier than I would normally, because I had to admit I wasn’t giving nor could give my best. At least now I had time to rest between rounds.
With 0.5/3, I was paired with another kid who had so far gone 0.0/3. Neither of us were having a good tournament. I got myself tangled in the opening (that mechanical humming was a Chinese water torture on my brain), but my gracious opponent allowed me to awkwardly unfold my position. By the time I was ready to attack, I noticed his isolated king’s pawn and seized on the weakness. I traded pieces, confident that I would be favored in the endgame. I was saved from defending that confidence when my opponent gave away his queen en prise and resigned.
Not my best tournament, but learning all the way.