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Chicago Class Championships - Playing to my Potential

July 21st, 2009

I’ve always been a hasty mover. And like most hasty movers, I lose or draw a lot of games because of mistakes and blunders. I just can’t seem to bring myself to sit for 5-10-30 minutes over a single move. No amount of training or reading will help if you don’t put in the time to exploit your new skills and knowledge. It’s also hard to get better if you never play to your potential. Your games are full of trivial errors rather than real shortcomings.

Fed up with this hasting moving, I decided to take action. After reading this Dan Heisman article on time management, I bought a stopwatch (mechanical, no beep) and started it after every one of my opponent’s moves. If my hands started to itch after 20 or 30 seconds, I would look down at the stopwatch, I would look down and tell myself, “You still have 150 seconds to go.” After a while I started to really use the time instead of just sitting there.

I brought this new resolve to the Chicago Class Championships on Oakbrook, IL this last weekend. I still moved too fast, especially in once I was winning, but in the last game I took longer once I was up, and longest when I was winning. This tournament took so much out of me that I was mentally fried on Monday. That’s called leaving it all out there.

Here’s the blow by blow of the tournament. I’ll post the games tomorrow.

Chicago Class Championships, 5 round swiss, class B section. 40/2, G/1. I wanted to leave it all out there on the chess board, and for the most part I did (for the first time in my chess career!):

Round 1: Nimzo-Indian black against a 1775 player. Kept an iron control of e4 throughout. Neutralized his dark squared bishop. When he move his Q up to b4 for exchange queens, I struck on the K-side and had the chance for a winning QBPPPP vs QPPP ending. As victory approached, I got excited, moved too fast and hung my queen. Still, I was satisfied with how I played and was able to solve the emotional fast moving issue later in the tournament.

Round 2: Low rated 1550 opponent fell victim to a Colle-Zuke withe Qf3-h3 maneuver. Nice checkmate in the middle of the board after sham rook-sac on e6.

Round 3: 1770 rated opponent. Bc4 Pirc. He made an early mistake and allowed me to double his f pawns. I got control of the center, then fixed his pawn structure in exchange for a single pawn. Down to a rook ending where I let a win slip to a draw, then he let it slip to a win again. Need to work on my R+P endings.

Round 4: 1750 rated opponent. Irregular Q-pawn opening with an early Bf5 (need to work on my repertoire here). Really ground in this one. Spent 30 minutes total on 3 moves. Got him to move Kf8 instead of castle, but then I didn’t like the sort of two bishop attack he could develop with my q-side somewhat undeveloped. Took B on g6, which opened up the h-file, then sac’d the b-pawn to get counterplay against his king and develop my q-side. Because I took so much time, I dropped a piece in time trouble, then made him demonstrate a win with a RNPPP vs RPPP. Took a lot out of me.

Round 5: 1730 rated opponent. Sac’d B at f7 early in a Pirc. Had to defend against an aggresive attack. I really took my time and slowly squeezed the life out of his initiative. Liquidated, shot down his dark squared bishop by blockading his pawns, then liquidated the R’s and Q. Nervewracking, but easy, if you’ve looked at Morphy games.

So, 3.0 out of 5, though I could have won all of my games (and then would have played tougher opponents). I’ll get better at the blunder stuff as I learn to manage my time and emotions.


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