I just wrapped up another OTB tournament, the Minnesota Open. It comes just a few weeks after I played in the 2023 Winter Open. The Minnesota Open last year, 2022, was the first tournament I ever played in. There were more people so we were bumped up from the hotel basement to the bigger hotel banquet rooms!
I started the year with a goal of playing in 10 OTB games in 2 months. With the 5 from this tournament and the 5 a few weeks ago, I managed to do that. I want to keep playing more and more! I just need to find the time and the tournaments to play in.
In this round I really let my opponent get in my head. In the middle of the game they scolded me because I started to move before they had hit their clock. It was one of those moves where I already had a plan and did not need to think about my response (move 19). But the fact that I was being told how to play really bugged me. It kept nagging at me the rest of the game. It was so bad that at one point they forgot to hit their clock after a move so I just let their clock run instead of letting them know, which bought me about 10 minutes of free time. I ended up winning, but I was not happy about how much this bothered me.
The game went alright. I found some good ideas, but I also missed a hanging piece (move 37).
Now it was Saturday morning and I was ready for a full day of chess. The game was going pretty well when the Tournament Director came over, stopped our clock, and asked me to step outside. He had a photo of me looking at my phone during the game. Only it wasn’t me. It was so close that I had to do a double take. The guy in the picture had the same hat, sweatshirt, and glasses. I had my phone turned off so I know it wasn’t me, but I didn’t know what to do. How do I prove it wasn’t me. Luckily that guy had different pants and shoes so I was cleared.
I felt pretty good about the game, especially the endgame.
The third round (and the rest) had no drama, so that’s good. The game went pretty well, and we got to a pretty draw-ish position at the end. In most (all?) of my previous tournaments I had a curse in round 3. I would take a draw when I was in a winning position. I really did not want to take any draws, especially round 3, but in this case I think it was the right decision. It was almost 3 hours into the game and I was not thinking very clearly.
Going into Sunday I was 2.5 out of 3 and feeling pretty good. Maybe too good. I started thinking about winning my section or a prize for my rating. I think I was too focused on that and not on the game in front of me. I ended up losing material because I did not see some tactics soon enough. Then I just tried to attack to stay in it but my opponent played a good game and I could not break through the defense.
I don’t know what happened in this game. I was completely winning in the endgame, but then I lost. The moves I wrote down were not correct, so I can’t even look to figure out where I went wrong. Part of it was that I was exhausted from playing chess all weekend. I need to work on my stamina for these events. The kid I was playing was also playing super fast and as much as I tried to slow down, I think I got caught up in his speed and just did not think through everything.
After a strong start, I faded away and finished 2.5 / 5. My rating dropped to 886. But my published USCF rating will go up from 840 over the past 2 tournaments, so that’s good. I was hoping for a better finish than this. I think I need to keep working on my visualization skills, especially when it comes to my opponent’s plans. I also need to think about how I train to be able to stay alert and focused for the whole weekend.
Like all of my tournaments, I like to report on the gender ratio to try to call out what a problem it is that there are so few women playing in these tournaments. Out of the 210 players, there were 191 males (91%) and only 9% non-male.