An unexamined life is not worth living.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

British Columbia Chess Championship 2008

Last weekend Stephen Wright directed the main round robin tournament of the year in our province - "the BC Closed". Jonathan Berry had a great run and won the first place with 5.5/7. This year I was both invited, and actually able to accept. I already posted an extensive collection of fragments from the 2001 championship - the last one in which I had competed. I also played in 2000. My play in each championship was probably characteristic of my chess strength and weaknesses at the time:

2000: 2.5/9 (-4=5)

2001: 6.5/9 (+5=3-1)

2008: 3.5/7 (+3-3=1)

In 2000 it was the first time I played in a stronger round robin, so I was unable to see a way to find advantage in any game at all. Opponents were not making the blunders I had been used to from playing U2000 rated guys, so I was not sure what to do about it (having fairly passive openings did not help either). In 2001 I was in a good shape, there were a couple of less strong players (who helped by playing a risky opening as black against me), so I collected all the points I could at the time, and then maybe a bit more when Jonathan Berry tried to win a drawn position so that he could catch up with Milicevic.

This year I was not in a terribly good shape. I want give a more detailed self-analysis of each game, but here are some general notes on what went well, and what did not

-my opening preparation was sufficient for this tournament - in two games my opponents knew more theory about the opening; in one game - I did, but overall each position I got out of the opening was playable, and in 2 cases it was plain better, borderline winning. In a way though, the opening preparation came at a high price - the night and morning before each game I was trying to prepare major opening systems that I had never played before. By the time I was playing the second game of the day, I was regularly having strong headache, and that was not helping. A more important conclusion is that I am more happy now about where my repertoir is going, since the 3 wins I did score - mostly came out of complex middlegames in the lines that are pretty important to my current repertoir.

- My tactical vision was reasonable, although I did miss a simple tactical shot against Alfred, and ended up losing the game.

- There was several complex endgames, and that's pretty much where I lost all 3 of my games. The fundamental problem however was not the endgame understanding, but awful time management. Going into endgames and feeling pretty optimistic, I was spending lots of time trying to find better continuations, failing, and going for simple options which were turning out to be inferior.

The conclusion is not very surprising - I need to be able to play faster, and to do that - I need to make progress in all parts of my game so that the same moves take less effort.

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