I was happy to be able to play one more event in 2023 and was looking forward to this tournament. I entered the open section, even tough I could have played in the U1800 section. This meant that I was one of the lower rated players in the tournament and I was looking forward to interesting games.
My only goal was to play some interesting games and I certainly did. My shortest game lasted 49 moves and 4 out of 6 games lasted over 60 moves. My play was decent, but the results weren't very pleasing which (together with the long games) made this tournament a bit tough after the first 4 rounds.
I will analyse the games in detail later (I still have some older games to analyse), but you can find them all in this Lichess study. In this post I will give a short overview of every game, I hope you will enjoy the comments!
In the first round I got paired against a 2100 hundred opponent and I had white. I felt really comfortable coming out of the opening and before my opponent played 12...f5 they thought for 45 minutes which gave me some confidence.
I thought that my position was better and that they were trying to take risks in order to play for a win. However, I was a bit uncertain what to do and started to "catch up" on the clock. I missed a couple of things in the transition to the endgame, but overall I was still happy with my position.
In the endgame I was also low on time and allowed my opponent's bishop to get back into the game and then blundered a pawn. But I still felt comfortable in holding the resulting rook endgame. Due to the time pressure I didn't think very long term enough and eventually missed my opponent's plan. In the final position, I realised how difficult it got to hold and completely forgot about my clock and lost on time.
I had black in the second round and was very happy with the outcome of the opening since I was familiar with the structure from a line I play with white. I managed to tie down my opponent's pieces and won a pawn. By move 20 I knew that I was standing much better.
But then I started to rush a bit, on the clock since I didn't want to end in a similar situation as in the first round and on the board because I was afraid that my opponent might get enough time to coordinate their pieces. This lead to me missing strong moves by my opponent (32.Bg3 was a big shock to me) and I felt under pressure to solve my problems in the endgame.
I decided to sacrifice a piece for a couple of pawns and felt that I had some winning chances in the pawns vs bishop+pawn ending. But the position was a quite comfortable draw for white.
In the third round I had white and expected my opponent to play a KID so I prepared a little for it. I was quite happy with the outcome of the opening but felt a bit lost in the resulting middle game and misplayed it. Some dubious knight manoeuvres resulted in a worse position for me as we transitioned into the ending.
Luckily for me, my opponent missed my trick with 37.Nc4 which got me back into the game. But by that point I was quite low on time and since the position remained complex, I was soon down to 1 minute. Then I blundered my knight because I simply missed that it could be attacked while giving a check. This was another painful loss.
I was playing black in the fourth round against a 9-year old kid. I wasn't very happy with the outcome of the opening and I soon didn't know what to play. Since I was a bit frustrated by the first 3 rounds, I wanted to keep the game going and wait for an opportunity. But my artificial play soon backfired.
I was under pressure and missed the strong 27.f6 after which I felt that white was much better. But after I managed to trade queens, we reached and equal ending where I tried to push for a win.
To my surprise, my opponent didn't exchange pawns on b4 at move 50 and then I realised that I need to fight for the draw. I was probably lost at some point, but I managed to give up my knight for the h-pawn and my opponent was left with a bishop and the wrong coloured rook's pawn and the game ended in a stalemate.
By this point in the tournament I started to feel frustrated. I thought that I played very well in the first 3 rounds but I only scored 0.5/3 and round 4 was simply a bad game from me which I should have lost. Adding to that, all 4 games were over 60 moves which started to get tiring. Having a second black in a row in round 5 didn't help my mood. But as soon as we got an open Sicilian on the board, I was a little happier since I knew the game would be very interesting.
I was quite happy with the outcome of the opening and also wasn't opposed to the queen exchange since I got 17...d5 in and felt that my position was fine. After some reshuffling on the queenside (where I put my bishop, knight and rook back onto their starting squares!) my opponent went for some piece exchanges which were helping me.
After 30...Rab8 I thought that I might have a strong attack but I couldn't find a way to break through which was frustrating me. Around move 40 I started to try and force a draw. In the final position, I saw that I could win a pawn with 49...Bd8 but I wasn't in the right mindset to play for a win and decided that I would rather rest a bit. Therefore I accepted my opponent's draw offer.
Unfortunately, my opponent for round 6 didn't show up, so we are heading into the seventh and final round of the tournament.
I prepared a bit for the final game and I had expected my opponent to play a Slav, but they went for a QGA and I was very soon out of book. The game soon got very concrete and after 13.Qb3 I felt that I might have a clear advantage.
I managed to win a pawn and after we exchanged queens, I thought that I had to be nearly winning due to my queenside passed pawns. However, I underestimated how important it was to activate my rook on h1 and bishop on g3. I also didn't appreciate how much counter play my opponent got with their two bishops.
Things quickly got out of control and my advantage slipped and a couple of moves later I was simply lost. I had a chance on move 40 to play 40.h5 and my opponent and I concluded in the post-mortem that it was drawn, but we both thought during the game that it didn't work (we couldn't figure out why).
I look back on this tournament with mixed feelings. I felt that my play was quite strong apart from round 4, but from a result perspective, this was my worst tournament by far. Obviously, the result of a single tournament doesn't matter in the long run, but having good positions and not converting (or even losing) them isn't great.
Therefore there is obviously a lot to learn for me from the games I played and the mistakes I made. One big takeaway is that I need to even out my play over longer games. I often feel like I play well for a couple of hours and then start making mistakes. Also I need to improve my play in time trouble since there is no avoiding time trouble when playing 60+ move games without a second time control.