2023 Minnesota Open Tournament

Key Takeaways

Participating in the 131st Minnesota Open chess tournament was a unique experience for me. This is the third year in a row I’ve played this tournament. It was a challenging event with 6 rounds, though I opted for a bye, playing a total of 5 games. Initially, I was on a roll, feeling confident and relaxed during the first 3 games. I was able to spot some great tactical opportunities and took advantage of my opponents’ slip-ups.

However, the last 2 games were a different story. They took place on the final day of the tournament, and by then, I was struggling to keep my focus and concentration. I felt mentally drained and realized I was no longer playing to win.

Reflecting on this, I believe my struggles stemmed from not having a solid thought process in place for my moves, which led to using more mental energy to make decisions during the games. For more about that, check out Cultivating a Thought Process in Chess - Part 1.

Previous years:

Round 1 - Friday Night

I felt pretty good about this game. My opponent made a couple mistakes which I was able to spot. Then some nice tactics sealed the win. There may have been a faster way to get checkmate, but I wanted to play it safe and make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Round 2 - Saturday Morning

This game was a bit harder. I was inches away from a fork that would lose me my queen, but I managed to stay one step ahead. In the endgame it was pretty even and for a bit I was playing for a draw. My opponent really did not want a draw, which worked out for me. Instead he forced a move that ended up losing and I was able to stay calm and capitalize on it.

Round 3 - Saturday Afternoon

This game worked out, but I made a mistake in the middle (move 13) when I played too fast. I was able to build up an advantage in the endgame, and then my opponent blundered a rook on move 24. By that point it was over.

Round 4 - Sunday Morning

I had a hard time focusing during this game. I think I was a bit fatigued. It was pretty even up until move 21, when I tried to be clever but basically just blundered away the game. I spent time considering what turned out to be the best move there (Qxe4) but didn’t play it. I think my ability to calculate was strained by this point. After that I mentally gave up.

Round 5 - Sunday Afternoon

This game I was not fighting for a win. I played to trade off all the pieces and get a draw. My opponent did not seem to mind.


I finished with 3 wins, 1 loss, and 1 draw for 3.5 out of 5. Technically I took a bye and didn’t play Saturday night, so my actual score was 4/6.

My rating went from 858 to 881 gaining 23 points. Playing in the U1100 section is tough because I played against 3 people who were rated lower than me (all wins), 1 higher rated (loss), and 1 unrated (draw). The higher rated player went on to win the section. Maybe I should play up a section to get players with higher ratings? That might also get me some more difficult games which I could learn more from.

And to continue my trend of reporting on gender, of the 217 players there were 92% male and 8% non-male.