I finally reentered the world of competative chess a couple of weekends ago. I played in the 2005 Cajun Chess Georgia Peach Open in Marietta, GA on February 5th & 6th. It was a five round Swiss event, but I ended up only playing three rounds proper. More on that below. I would have preferred getting my feet wet with a few of the Atlanta Chess Club's monthly "Game in 45 minutes" four-round mini-tournaments, but the timing was not right. The Open section of the tournament was stronger than I expected, with FM Emory Tate, Jr.; "IM-Elect" FM Stephen Muhammad (I have to assume "IM-elect" means that he has only to make one more IM norm to get the title of International Master from FIDE), IMs Ron Burnett and Carlomagno Oblitas, and a last-minute surprise, GM Alexsander Wojtkiewicz...although in hindsight that shouldn't be a suprise, "Wojo", as he is casually referred to in chess circles, has been known to play in *A LOT* of these mid-sized weekend Swiss tournaments, and he makes a fair amount of money doing so, as he usually is the strongest player there and usually wins.
The two highest-rated players in the tournament, Wojo and Burnett, agreed to a *very* quick draw...I think the game did not even go five minutes! To be honest, I think that Wojo was rather tired, he appeared to come in on a "red-eye" flight or something and needed the rest so that he could later crush the weaker opposition. Well, in hindsight, perhaps he should have played on! As it turned out, he was tied for first with Burnett going into the final round when he lost to Stephen Muhammad! Burnett won his round and clear first in the tournament, and Wojo had to settle for third place behind Burnett and then Muhammad.
I found a results table for the tournament online HERE.
I have not transcribed any of my games yet in PGN, much less annotated anything...but here is a brief rundown of my tournament performance:
2005 Cajun Chess Georgia Peach Open
Saturday, February 5th 2005
Carey A. Hudson vs. William C. Kargel
I drew Black for my first game back in the saddle (yay). I told my opponent before the game started that this was my very first "over the board" tournament game in 13 years...perhaps that actually made him a bit hesitant and changed his strategy, because he actually started out playing quite conservatively. I chose to meet his 1.d4 with my "first string" defense in that situation, the King's Indian Defense. As I just mentioned, White played very conservatively, and was rather slow in development, even allowing me to set up a double fianchetto of my Bishops! I appeared to have a solid setup against White going into the middle game...very "Petrosian-esque", if I may say so. I was in fact very confident in how I was doing up to that point. White then made his pawn break on the Queenside as I expected...but in hindsight I should have either just dealt with that threat directly, or at least if I was going to start my own attack, play a better move than I did (a pawn break of my own on the Kingside that in hindsight suddenly really weakened my defenses, my pawn structure in particular). Later, in desperation, I made a speculative Rook sacrifice that really backfired, but I think that Black was already lost anyway. I soon resigned. 1-0
I drew a full-point bye. Yippee.
William C. Kargel vs. Mark Solt
Mr. Solt was from Jacksonville, FL, seeking escape from the Superbowl Madness! He played a variation of a Robatsch/Modern defense, answering my 1. e4 with g6. There are a lot of similarities in the strategic themes of the Modern and Pirc Defenses, but the main difference between the Modern and the Pirc is the delaying of development of the Kingside Knight. Being an experienced Pirc player in correspondence chess on both sides of the board, I basically played a common setup for White against the Pirc, very similar to the "150" or "Caveman Attack" against the Pirc, with 5. Be3. I soon had managed to place an enormous amount of pressure on Black's Kingside with both of my Rooks in early deployment, and I was giving Black fits as he really had no place to go or to counter-attack. But, as usual, I made a tactical mistake that made my Kingside attack fizzle out, and then allowed Black to counter-attack and place a Knight behind my Queenside pawns...Black then proceed to pick them off one by one until he had a massive pawn phalanx in center...we both at this point only had a Knight left as pieces...I fought on, and actually managed to snipe two of the pawns before he inevitably promoted the e-pawn to a Queen and I then resigned. Black could have finished me sooner, but he was making inaccurate moves in the endgame and allowed me a bit of counterplay (i.e. my lone Knight sniping a couple of pawns from his endgame majority). My opponent seemed rather annoyed that I played on for over 50 moves and not resigned way back when we entered the endgame. Oh well...I don't give up so easily! 0-1
Sunday, February 6th 2005
Matthew D. Beard vs. William C. Kargel
This player was ultimately a no-show. I later found out that the other members of his family had all asked for fourth-round byes, so I have to assume that this player just forgot to do the same. I would have much rather played and tried to have actually earned the full point! As it was, I think it led to disasterous consequences for my final round. I was pacing all over the place like a hungry jaguar or something, just about salivating with anticipation to pounce on my next opponent over the board!
Kevin D. Meng vs. William C. Kargel
My last opponent was a quiet Chinese boy of about thirteen or so. He acted rather timid over the board, and in fact played into a Giuoco Piano/Italian Opening, rather the Giuoco Pianissimo ("quiet game") variant with 5.d3, which I was not happy about at all. I twiched and played 5...d5. Not the smartest move! To make a long story short, my position imploded and the quiet kid then quietly and methodically ground me down. My only real disappointing loss! 1-0
I chalk up my poor results in the tournament to two things: 1) lack of "over the board" tournament experience, especially since I am still not used to the 3-D environment of OTB chess as I am to the 2-D environment of Correspondence chess. 2) bad tactical assessments. No surprises here...I need to work on tactics, tactics, tactics!
I really didn't expect to light up the boards, and overall I was pleased with how I played...much better than I did 13 years ago, that's for sure! Back to practice, practice, practice!