Over Queen’s birthday weekend ( May 30th – June 1st ) I played in the Waitakere Licensing Trust Open. The tournament is held in Lincoln Road in West Auckland which is a dreary area of light industrial buildings, big-box retailers, fast-food and everything else that West Auckland prides itself on. I bought some breakfast at a small bakery along the road and when I mentioned that the shop next door had been broken into I was told that it was the 8th time that month. However this post is about the chess rather than urban design.
The event itself consisted of an A,B,C and Junior tournament with approx 32, 22, 25 and 33 players in each. I successfully applied to get into the “B” on my recent performance tournament even though it was for 1400-1700 rated players and I’m currently on 1274 so I was the lowest rated player in my grade.
Game 1 – White vs Dean Zhao ( 1555 ) – Sicilian c3
I had a fairly good opening, missed a couple of moves but by move 12 I had an advantage and black was very much pushed back and tied up. However I couldn’t find the best continuation and my opponent managed to swap off my attacking pieces and then get a little ahead in the endgame. He then used an advantage of a couple of pawns to beat me. So I was very much outplayed.
Game 2 – Black vs Andrew Michael ( 1502 ) – Slav
A pretty even game for the first 20 moves or so. White was pushing a bit but no major fireworks. After that I slowly edged the position in my favour and threatened to win some material around move 28 and got a rook for a bishop and 2 pawns. However in a series of bad moves I missed a discovered check (lost my Knight) , the reply that would have won back the material and a few moves later ( after I was two rooks against a rook and two minor pieces) a chance to get a rook and a bishop for a rook. Finally I blundered into a fork and lost a rook and resigned. I was really disappointed with my play here, my errors were under time trouble (that was my fault) but I was still ahead and lost the game.
So after the first day I was on zero points and not very happy.
Game 3 – Black vs Ron Collingwood ( 1533 ) – Slav
Another Slav although this transposed in so wasn’t very tidy. I was also worried about repeating some bits I didn’t like in the last game. White got a nice attack down the C file with both his rooks which had me in a bit of trouble, after he transferred his attack to down the F file I was lucky and was able to win an exchange by threatening mate. With two rooks vs a rook and a bishop and 6 pawns each I then got my rook behind his pawns, swapped off a rook and then slowly (50 moves) and carefully took his pawns until I had a king and 5 pawns against a king and he eventually resigned. My first win cheered me up.
Game 4 – White vs John Francis ( 1560 ) – c3 Sicilian / Advance French
As has happens sometimes my c3 Sicilian transposed into a Advanced-French. My 8 Bg5 and 9. Nh4 were not a good combo though and black punished me with a kingside pawn advance. However I pushed back and he retreated which was not the best line. After 25 moves we had just a rook and two minor pieces each plus a solid wedge of pawns in the centre and queenside. A miscalculation on my part allowed him to get a bishop behind me which won a pawn but after swaps we were left with a drawn position and agreed to a draw.
I was a lot happier that night since I was on 1.5 points and only needed a little over 1 to play to my rating.
Game 5 – Black vs Brett Rider (1649) – Centre game / Danish Gambit
An unusual opening here ( 1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Bb4 Nc6 4. c3 dxc3 5. Nxc3 Bb4 6. Nd2 Nf6 ) which my opponent sacrificed a pawn for not a lot of compensation. However I feel into a trap and white gained a pawn an an attack a few moves later. I managed to defend fairly well and things even up before white miscalculated an attack and game up a rook for three pawns. However he still had a strong attack didn’t try a perpetual check and continued to attack. I missed a counter attack and eventually made a mistake in a cramped position which resulted in me losing my queen and a pawn for a rook. I was unable to defend after that and lost.
Game 6 – White vs Helen Courtney ( 1393 ) – Scotch
My opponent had trouble with the opening and used a lot of her time and made a couple of incorrect moves, so I was a bit ahead after about 10 moves and the queens and one knight were gone. After black start a pawn push against my queenside-castled king a saw a trick which backfired when she found the best reply. I then spent over 20 minutes working out what to do but found the best move and my opponent didn’t press her attack so I was a little lucky. A few messy moves later during which we both miscalculated some tactical tricks I emerged a bishop ahead and soon afterwards an additional rook ahead when a trick paid off. A few moves later I won on time.
Overall I am fairly happy with my performance although disappointed a couple of the games, especially Game 2. I played to a 1465 rating which is almost 200 above what I am on but probably close to my “real” ability. Definite room for improvement for improvement in my endgames ( openings were not too bad) and time control and moving under time pressure. Probably a few more actual online games will help and well as keeping up the study. I’m still missing simply tactics so plenty of room there.