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Message
    Having a Chess Goal
Author
Bob Armstrong
Date
 2009-04-14 06:45
on Jan. 1, 2007, one of my resolutions for 2007 was to
go over 1800 and stay there - I was at the time 1793. So how did I do ? Well divided success.
Here is my track record:

Going Over 1800 Falling Back into 1700's

March 8 - 1815 March 18 - 1783
April 2 - 1822 June 23 - 1776
July 15 - 1813 July 30 - 1799
August 3 - 1808 August 19 - 1778
August 30 - 1816 September 3 - 1771
November 4 - 1818
December 31 ? 1821

So, on Jan. 1, 2008, I was faced with the question of what to do. Here I was, over 1800 again, but only at 1821. But I decided to put on a brave face.

My resolution for 2008? ? going over 1900 ! I decided I could not only stay in the 1800?s, but make it back into the 1900's, which I hadn't done since April 23, 2001 , my one and only time I got over 1900. Optimism is such a great characteristic ! So how did I do in 2008?
Well, unfortunately, it looks a lot like 2007 ? trying just to stay in the 1800?s ! Though, I did only slide back in the first half of the year. I managed to stay in the 1800?s for the second half. But the closest I came to 1900 was 1873 on Jan. 20.
Here is my track record:

Going Over 1800 Falling Back into 1700?s

Jan. 1 ? 1821 ( start of year ) Feb. 17 ? 1796
March 18 ? 1834 May 15 ? 1752
July 27 ? 1839
Dec. 31 ? 1857 ( year end )

So the big question for 2009 was ? do I dare try to keep my goal of going over 1900, when for two straight years now, the struggle has been just to stay in the 1800?s? On Jan. 1, 2009, I resoundingly declared : YES !! I would get over 1900 in 2009 !

But what do I find? I have slowly been sinking from the start-of-year rating of 1857, and today find myself at 1803, hovering once again on the edge of the 1700's. Will I be able to hold on?

The next tournament I play in will tell the tale. It is the PwC Toronto Open ( Ontario, Canada ). It is this coming weekend, and is the largest weekend tournament in Toronto in many, many years. The guaranteed first prize in the Open Section is $ 3,000. Four USA GM's ( including Hikaru Nakamura ) have entered, and one Canadian GM ( Bator Sambuev - still registered with the Russian Federation ). There are 65 players registered for the top section, the largest of the three sections. There is a $ 1,000 first prize in both the < 2000 section and the < 1600 section.

So what did yours truly do? With a rating of 1803, I decided to play up a section - not in the < 2000 where I belong, but in the Open Section, with the pro's. I couldn't resist the allure of playing 5 consecutive games against stronger opponents ! So where do I stand in the rankings? # 64/65 !!

The question that obviously arises is whether I am on a suicide mission with respect to my stated 2009 resolution of going over 1900 ( and implicitly staying out of the 1700's ! ). Well, the way I see it, I may lose all first 4 games, but if I can win my last round game, chances are strong that my points from that one win may wipe out my losses from the first four games. My opponents will so out-rate me, that losing to them will cost me minimal points. But if I win one, I win big points ! So it is a calculated gamble, based on optimism ( and foolishness? ).

Will I end up as a result of this adventure, down in the 1700's again? Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained !

What do you think my chances are of staying in the 1800's after this tournament?

Bob
  
Responses
   Weekend Warrior's Progress Grinds to a Halt
Author
Bob Armstrong
Date
 2009-04-19 21:57
After drawing 2 masters ( first time ever I've beaten or drawn a master ! ), and losing to an IM, but where I carried the play and had him defending for the first 3/4 of the game, I had hopes of getting at least another 1/2 point today, Sunday, out of rounds 4 & 5 ( it was a weekend 5-round swiss ).

But it was not to be. In Rd. 4 I played an expert, and we both agreed I had the superior opening and the makings of a good attack. But I saw a sacrifice, and thought it looked good, so did it. But I failed to see one resource he had which solidified his K-side. I got 2 pawns for the B, and kept up the K-side pressure, but he found a way of forcing the exchange of pieces, and I ended up with 2 connected passed pawns on the fifth rank vs N ( we also each had a B ). I had a way of making progress, but my opponent saw it and countered it with a nice move I hadn't anticipated. This changed the analysis quite a bit. Unfortunately, I moved too quickly, and failed to grasp all the change in dynamics, and my move cost me a pawn. I was then pretty well lost. I have to do some analysis to see if the best move allows me to draw, or whether I still lose anyway. But overall, I'm pleased I tried the sac - it did look promising, and I did get a lot of play out of it, and 2 pawns.

So it was on to the final round 5. Again I played an expert ( I am rated 1803 ). I again got the better opening and had some attacking threats. But then I played a move that allowed for a possible sac. I analyzed the possibility and thought it unsound - but I missed a critical move he had. So he sacked, and then I saw I couldn't accept the sac, and I was down a P. Thereafter, he had the initiative, and an attack, and I pretty much got crushed. Really my only game I'm not too happy with out of the 5 of them.

As a result of the 2 draws against masters, my rating point winnings are in excess of the points I give up due to my 3 lossed, and I win about a dozen rating points !!

The experience tells me I can play a decent game against master and experts ( though I may lose ), and that I can feel justified playing up a section in the future, again.

Hope you enjoyed my saga.

Bob
   Weekend Warrior Continues to Make Progress
Author
Bob Armstrong
Date
 2009-04-19 00:02
After getting my first draw ever against a master on Friday night at the PwC Toronto Open ( Canada ), I didn't know what to expect for Rd. 2 on Saturday morning. Lo and behold, I'm paired with an IM who took a bye in Rd. 1 !! Only the second time in my life playing an IM ( the first was in the late 60's or early 70's, when I played the brother of USA GM Robert Byrne, IM Donald Byrne - I actually lasted even to first time control, but was slated to lose a pawn, and I had to resign ). I played Montreal's IM Michael Schleifer. I played well, got the initiative, had an attack, and forced him to defend for the first 3/4 of the game. But then I couldn't find a win, and my position deteriorated, and his counterplay ended mating me. But I am quite pleased with my effort. I'll post the game next week.

In Rd. 3 Saturday aft., I got to play another master, the father of Canadian GM Mark Bluvshtein. Ilia got a pawn early on ( I played a bad opening ), but I complicated and managed to get the pawn back. Then I was forced to sack the exchange in the late middle game. But my B & N, with a few pawns, were well coordinated and I had a passed P on the 2nd rank. I managed to lock his R out of the play on my side of the board, and eventually I went up a pawn, still down the exchange. I then managed to queen, and he had to sack his R to take it off. This left me up an N, but my K was too far away from the 2 remaining pawns on the Q-side, and I was going to lose my pawn and win his with my N - no mating material left, so a well-deserved draw !

I have to say I'm on a bit of a high over all this ( I'm rated 1803 ). I can only hope it all continues tomorrow !!

I'll let you know.

Bob
   Weekend Warrior Makes Progress
Author
Bob Armstrong
Date
 2009-04-17 23:50
Rd. 1 of the PwC Toronto Open was played Friday night, April 17. I had decided to play up a section - in the Open Section, instead of my normal < 2000 ( my rating is 1803 ). And I was right about my pairing range - I got to play a master just above 2200. It just so happened to be the President of our national chess federation, the Chess Federation of Canada. David Lavin is rated 2219, but was a bit rusty since he hadn't played in an Open tournament for many years.

I managed to get a good opening, and then went up a pawn, with pressure on his K. But then there must have been some weaker moves, since he suddenly had a quiet move that shifted the initiative to him. I was going to have to give back the pawn, or else be consigned to passive defence forever. But David didn't take the pawn, and tried for more. This left me with an exchange sac which led to a perpetual check - DRAW !!

I have never defeated or drawn a master before, though I've had winning games, and lost them in time pressure. So maybe it is the start of a new era !!

I'll let you know how I do tomorrow. I'll post the game when I get time later.

Bob
   Weekend Tournament Challenge
Author
Bob Armstrong
Date
 2009-04-17 06:10
Well, today is the big day - Rd. 1 tonight of the PwC Toronto Open - at 7:00 PM. Time control for the first round is Game/90 min. + 1 Hr. SD. It is a 5-round swiss.

Registrations closed on Tuesday at midnight, and there will be no on-site entries tonight. Registration jumped at the end from about 140 players to 203 !! This will be the largest weekend swiss tournament in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in a very, very long time - have to go back into the last millennium to find these kinds of numbers.

The Open Section numbers 89 players. Rather than play in the < 2000 section, where I belong ( I'm rated 1803 ), I decided to play up a section - in the Open Section ( the third section is < 1600 )- in the Open section, I am # 85/89. So, as I wanted, I will get most of my games playing up!

The Open Section is very strong at the top - who am I playing with? Take a look at the titled players:

GM Hikaru Nakamura 2757 USA ( !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! )
GM Alexander Shabalov 2630 USA
GM Eugene Perelshteyn 2601 USA
GM Bator Sambuev 2584 ON
IM Artiom Samsonkin 2548 ON
GM Joshua Friedel 2537 USA
IM Leonid Gerzhoy 2528 ON
IM Nikolay Noritsyn 2503 ON
FM Shiyam Thavandiran 2462 ON
IM Brian Hartman 2434 ON
IM David Cummings 2430 ON 4
IM Ron Livshits 2427 ON
FM Eduardo Teodoro 2413 ON
FM Christian Stevens 2408 ON
FM Robert Hamilton 2384 ON
FM Bindi Cheng 2376 ON
IM Michael Schleifer 2356 QC
FM Michael Barron 2344 ON
FM Goran Milicevic 2340 ON 2
IM Lawrence Day 2322 ON
WIM Iryna Zenyuk 2305 USA
FM Vinod Puri 2297 ON
IM Raymond Kaufman 2274 USA
WIM Natalia Khoudgarian 2252 ON 2
WFM Yuanling Yuan 2240 ON
FM Hans Jung 2170 ON

Advance pairings are supposed to be posted on websites later today, but from what I can calculate roughly ( no accelerated pairings are being used ), I will likely play a master in Rd. 1, rated right around 2200. I have never beaten a master, nor drawn one, though I've had winning games against a couple, and then faded in the time scrambles. I have beaten and drawn experts. We'll see how I do tonight. I'm looking forward to the " challenge "!!

I'll let you know how it goes.

Bob