With a score of 4/5 in the adult section of the Washington Open, I felt comfortable going into the last round. My opponent was ELO 1643 and I felt I had a chance of winning my first chess tournament. This would be easier said than done though. While I got an early advantage, I made some serious miscalculations in the middlegame that nearly sent the game to a dead even draw.
Winning my first chess tournament
This game taught me a lot about my chess. It showed me how quickly an advantage can be lost and how precise I need to be when trading pieces and pressing forward with an attack.
Stick to your plan. While it is important to be flexible with your plans, don’t get distracted. My strange Ba3 idea, trying to capture a useless knight is one example of that. Don’t worry about pieces that play no role in the game. Calculate, but be objective. Pieces that do not help your opponent’s progress should be left alone. Instead, focus your energy into building your attack against your opponent. In this game, the kingside is where I should have massed my pieces — I did this later but spent too much time tending to my opponent’s queenside antics that had nothing to do with the outcome of the game.
Carefully calculate piece trades. After I played 8. Nc4, Black made a mistake by replying with Bd6 – a move that allows me to take his bishop and retain the bishop pair. This is something I should have done instantly. Without his d6 bishop, Black cannot stop future ideas like f4. I got lucky, in that my opponent blundered by giving away his light-squared bishop. This was another bad move that again gave me the bishop pair. Always consider how piece trades can help your long term prospects in a position. Had I done this, the capture on d6 would have been made, giving me a nice advantage.
When in doubt — BUILD! Right around move 14 is when I started to get a powerful grip on the position. But, as my pawns advanced, I couldn’t figure out how to push my attack through. In times like this, it’s important to build on the position. I should have played moves like Qg3 and then Rae1 and slowly build pressure on an attack is almost certainly decisive.
This victory gave me 5 out of 6 which was a clear point ahead of the next player allowing me the bragging rights that comes with winning my first chess tournament!