25 May 2009


I managed to avoid loss in yesterday's Washington Open games. After two days and four games, one player in my section has four points. I'm one of four with three. If someone beats the leader, anyone of the rest of us has a shot to share first.

I'm in the Premier section, which is limited to players under 2000. Those under 2000 that are playing in the Open are getting slaughtered as should be expected with several masters in the group and quite a bit of money on the line. The total prize fund for all sections is $8000. First prize in the Open is $1000.

I'm less interested in the $400 top prize in my section, although money is always nice, than in reaching my goal of crossing the line into class A. If the tournament ended now, I should be about 1790 or a tad higher. I'm currently 1764. My results have been:

1668 draw
1744 win
1786 draw
1839 win

The games get tougher today. I must focus on round five, thinking about neither money, round six, nor the rating. I must put all my energy into finding good moves, one at a time.

In yesterday's games, I reached easy equality in a French with most of the pieces coming off the board fast. We reached this position after my 19...Kf7.

I offered a draw, and my opponent thought for seven minutes before accepting. We used twenty-nine minutes between us.

Round four started six and a half hours later, which gave me plenty of time to talk with Tim Tobiason of Toby Chess, the vendor. I hung out in the skittles room, watched other games, and attended the Washington Chess Federation Board meeting. I haven't yet told my wife that I was elected member-at-large to the board. I might get in trouble for that.

In round four, I had White against Michael Hosford. I had lost to him in a long and difficult game in 2006. He played the King's Indian Attack against my French and eventually found a tactic that won material. I played out a lost position during his time trouble until it became clear that he could finish all necessary moves within the time delay.

When I saw him at the Washington State Elementary Chess Championship--he served as a section chief during one round,--I told him that I was looking forward to another crack at him in the Washington Open. As we were sitting down, he said, "you got your wish." But, the wish was for a win, not just to play him. He's a strong, resourceful player and a scholastic coach with Chess4Life. His focus during play is exemplary.

I lost my way in a Catalan. In the effort to mount an attack, I sacrificed a pawn. Then, I overlooked a simple tactic that lost another. Still, I had my plan: get my queen "up in his grille," as Robert Pearson put it in comments to yesterday's post. I burned a lot of time in the early going, becoming as much as thirty minutes behind. He used the time advantage to reach a superior position, but we were both responding to the need to move faster.

We reached this position with Black to move after 29.e4. I had twenty-three minutes left to get to move 40. He had seventeen.

What should he play?

Open Section

When I left at 10:45pm last night, Internation Master John Donaldson was pressing a one pawn advantage against FIDE Master Nick Raptis on board one in the Open section. They had opposite colored bishops, and a rook each. Donaldson's position had more dynamism than my round one game with the same pieces, but more pawns. Even so, it was hard to see a clear plan for the IM and I wanted some sleep.

Round five begins at 9:00am this morning.

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