Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Vikings Weekender 2011 - Day 2

"...I have always been of the opinion that, of the two evils - under-estimation and over-estimation of one's own strength - the former is much the more harmful." - Mikhail Tal
by Junta

On 3½/4 after the first day, it was clear that I would have to score at least 2½/3 on the second day to have hopes of winning the tournament. After the pairings were released in the evening and I looked up my opponent's games in the database, I revised a particular line in the Sicilian Kan as I was quite certain it would occur on the board.

More important, though, was to get a sufficient amount of sleep - it's impossible to play these 60 10 time control games at an optimum condition with insufficient rest overnight. Doubly so for me on this night, as the fast food lunch after Round 2 had given me some non-chess annoyance afterwards - since returning from overseas, having fast food which I'd had no problems with before have given me stomach pains so I might be avoiding them for a while.

On another note, I was planning to take some photos of the playing venue but once the tournament had started, such extraneous tasks all faded out of my mind. Perhaps Shaun Press will be uploading some later, when I'll link to it here.

Round 5

Feeling much better in the morning, the opening as Black went perfectly, and my opponent (who last year killed my chances of 1st by leaving me on 2½/4 after Day 1), pursuing action, decided on an unsound Nd5 sacrifice. I was moving all the right pieces in keeping my advantage until a couple of dubious moves crept in, and suddenly White won back my estranged knight on a2. He was close to equalising, but went astray from the pressures of Black's passed c-pawn and heavy pieces.
(show chess board)(hide chess board)

On Board 1, Andrew was playing George as White, in an interesting line of the Queen's Indian which I believe went 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.Qc2 Bb7 6.Bg2 c5 7.d5 exd5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.0–0 Nc6 10.Rd1 Nc7!? (10...Be7 is usual)

A provocative novelty from Black.
Andrew subsequently went all out for the attack on Black's slightly suspect king, but George calmly repulsed the onslaught after taking the exchange and converted convincingly. With two rounds to go, the leaderboard read:
4½ - Xie, Ikeda
4 - V.Smirnov, Brown, Melrose, E.Guo, Ng

Round 6

The crucial game. I believe George is the player who has given me the most losses in tournament play, and apart from one win thanks to an opening blunder in 2008, through 2005-start of 2011 I had lost 7 games to him - over the last summer especially, losing to him in each of the three big tournaments (Surfer's Paradise - penultimate round, Australian Open - final round, Oceania Zonal - final round!). Many players have one or two opponents they score poorly against, and it takes time to overcome what is undoubtedly a psychological obstacle against these players.

In this game, I had a slight advantage as Black after the opening (Torre Attack), but lost the thread in the early middlegame, and White's queen, light-squared bishop and two knights became poised to attack my king on the queenside . Although the knockout blow was missed, White's immovable bishop on c6 and potential exploitation of the a, b and e-files had each of my king, queen, rook and bishop confined to passivity. However, the vertical path for the rook to my royal couple was chosen wrongly, letting me escape into an equal ending - it is difficult to play 'normally' after a large advantage is given up.
(show chess board)(hide chess board)

Vlad grinded down Melrose's hedgehog, while Andrew was lucky to survive with a draw against Emma Guo as Black, after a similar opening (trap) catastrophe to his loss against Moulthun at the Zonal in January occurred in the Grand Prix Attack (involving e4, Nc3, Nf3, Bb5-c4, Nf3xNd4, Qf3, Nc3-b5, Qa3 etc.).
With one round to go, the scores were:

5½ - Ikeda
5 - V.Smirnov
4½ - Xie, Brown, Mandla, A.Smirnov, E.Guo

Round 7

Needing at least a draw against Vlad to clinch the tournament, I decided to play the Exchange Slav with 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.cxd5 etc, and offered a draw in the fairly equal middlegame, which was accepted after some thought.

19.Kc1-b1 ½-½
On Boards 2 and 3, George and Andrew beat Blair and Anton respectively, and the final scores of the leaders were:
6 - Ikeda
5½ - Xie, V.Smirnov, Brown
5 - Melrose, Ng, Ali, Grcic, Lo

The final crosstable can be seen here.

The overriding feeling when drawing Round 7 was of relief, that my nerves had held out over the 7 rounds. The overseas experience from June-September has definitely helped in my confidence, as I was playing strong opponents every game in those five tournaments, but there is still an awful lot to be done in my game.

The Vikings Weekender is the tournament I've had the most success in over the years, winning in 2004 (my first adult weekender win, in Year 7 - I still remember how happy that made me), 2005 (shared), 2008 and 2009 - although I fall into time trouble quickly with this time control, I usually handle it well as I'm able to play on intuition, on feeling - my intuition isn't too bad, but the biggest deficiency in my chess is that I find it difficult to trust my intuition and play quickly - hence I think too much, when I should also be tuning into my 'feel' of the position.

Many thanks to the organisers, Glenn Ingham, Jim Flood and Matt Radisich, as well as the Tuggeranong Vikings League Club, and DOP Shaun Press. The number of entrants have been unusually consistent over the last few years at 58 in 2008, 57 in 2009, 55 in 2010 and 56 this year - it's a great tournament to play in, so I hope there'll be more people joining to play this event in Canberra next year.

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