Before I begin, I want to take this opportunity to wish the Chess^Summit community Happy New Year!
The Eastern Open was an open tournament held December 27 – 30, in between the Christmas and New Year’s weekends, at the Doubletree in Bethesda, MD. While it was held across a string of typical work days, Winter Break gave kids an opportunity to play in a tournament held at such a point in the week where they typically wouldn’t be able to; I was one of them. Entering the tournament with a published rating of 2180, I had the chance of choosing whether to play in the U2200 or the Open section yet again. Knowing that the tournament was 7 rounds and that it was easier to gain rating in a higher section, I enrolled in Open.
Finding myself in the middle of the pack prior to round 1, I was sure to either play one of the top seeds or one of the lowest seeds. As some higher rated players were registering on-site, a pairing against a top seed seemed more and more inevitable. That judgment proved correct, as I was eventually paired against the very strong IM Tegshuren Enkhbat. You can play through the game in the following hyperlink to the game viewer, and my comments will appear there as well.
I was definitely satisfied with my round 1 performance after the first night. I just had to go in tomorrow and try to repeat or even one-up this performance the next day. Unfortunately, the game did not go well, and I was slowly outplayed by Akshita Gorti, a strong 2300 player known to many in this area. Finding myself in a 0.5/2 hole, I knew I had to win the next round to keep up with the competition. I was pitted against tournament organizer Tom Beckman. Once again, you can view the game and its associated notes in the following hyperlink.
Disregarding the few points in the game where I could have improved upon my text moves, I still came out of that game feeling quite happy with my play.
Going into the third day with 1.5/3, I had some options as to the way I could play my next few games. I was paired against veteran Allan Savage. That game was drawn fairly quickly after only 14 moves. The position was approximately equal, and while I could have played on in an attempt to win, I took the draw offer with the reasoning that it was a draw with the black pieces against a higher rated player; I would have ample time to rest and prepare for the next round. Lastly, on my trek to 2200, every point counts, so there was no hurt in playing it safe. For round 5, I was paired against Christopher Shen in what was going to be the most interesting game I would play the entire tournament.
Wow. It was a fun and nail-biting game to play. Although I didn’t end up finding the winning move in that one position, these are still the games I live to play. With 2.5/5 points going into the sixth round on the fourth and final day of the tournament, I did not have luck on my side. I was paired against the ever-improving Michael Bennett and was thoroughly ground down in a 5.5-hour game. Right from the start, I had no idea what to do in terms of plan or position. Out of the opening, I was taken into a position where all I could do was sit and defend an oncoming attack that finally broke through mere moves before time control. To make matters worse, I had little to no time to eat and prepare for my last round game. All I need was a game as white against a lower-rated player to right the ship once again. In the end, neither of those hopes came to light, as I was paired against the higher-rated Trung Nguyen with black. In that game, too, I was being ground down before he had to leave with his parents for an event, so I was saved by a draw offer. Sometime in the future, I’ll have to return that half point, but that’s for later.
At the end, after seven grueling games lasting four days with little sleep, I was rewarded with a single rating point. At least I still peaked my rating and got one point closer to achieving Master, though. Although I missed a nice win in my fifth round game, it was probably offset by the lucky draw I escaped with in the last round. All in all, I played fairly well in my first tournament since the Northern Virginia Open almost two months prior. 2017 is the year I hope to achieve Master. January and February offer a few more tournaments to play in, including the Chesapeake Open, the US Amateur Team East, and a few others. I was hoping to attain the title of Master before the end of 2016, but at least I significantly progressed towards the goal towards the end of the year.
Thanks for taking the time to read my articles over the past months. 2016 was an exciting year for me in being able to partake in the Chess^Summit program, and I hope to provide further value in my articles in 2017 as well. As always, good luck in your future games and see you next time!