21 August 2015

Winning an Open

I won the Spokane Falls Open with a score of 4.5/5. It was my first win of an open Swiss, although I have won club tournaments, quads, and a few invitationals. I also tied for first in the reserve section of the 2006 Washington Challenger's Cup. I normally play four games in a five round weekend Swiss. I won all four games one other time, the 2012 Collyer Memorial Tournament. In that event, IM John Donaldson played all five rounds and also won all of his games, so I finished second.

In the Spokane Falls Open, held last weekend, there were two players rated higher than me. I beat both of them. My games on Saturday, when I played lower rated players, were far from easy. These two games lasted seven hours and 110 moves.

A chess player's job is to set problems before his or her opponent, and to solve the problems set by the opponent. The winner is the one who solves these problems more effectively. Below are some of the critical positions from my games in the tournament last weekend.

My first game was against an underrated youth player. Early in the game, he took advantage of my errors. I faced a difficult decision whether to give up a pawn, or to give up a rook for a knight.

White to move

I gave up the pawn.

Several moves later, he faced a difficult choice.

Black to move.

In the second round, my opponent shattered the pawns in front of my king, trading a knight for three pawns and an attack. My defensive resources were adequate, and we found ourselves in an ending where I had a knight for two pawns. I missed the winning plan from this position.

Black to move

Nonetheless, my advantage again became overwhelming a few moves later.

After a round three bye, I faced the top rated player in round four. The last time I had played him was in the 2009 Collyer Memorial. I drew all four games in that event. He gave me several difficult problems to solve. This was one of the critical positions. What is Black's best move?

Black to move

My opponent played hxg3, presenting me with some difficulties. Of course, I took the pawn on g4 with check, but then what?

In the last round, I faced Kairav Joshi (see "Excelling at Technical Chess"). He had White.

White to move

Who is better? What are the plans for both sides?

Joshi played Rg4+. After the game, he said that he thought that move was a critical error. I did not disagree.

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