I knew that a big tournament at the university was coming up on the long weekend and had a hard time to decide to play or not. After Thursday’s game I realized that I am not in the best shape and decided not to play, but on Friday the thought that I will be sitting at home while people will be playing finally got me. So I went to the site on Saturday and registered on the spot, there were about 180 people participating.

Day 1

Game 1 – my opponent has White, she plays Ruy Lopez, then instead of 7. Re1 plays c3. It encourages me to try Nxe4, I never played it with Black and I don’t think ever got it with White. I don’t like my position after 16 moves, I hate my knight on e6 that doesn’t let my bishop on c8 out.

Computer doesn’t quite like my 17… Ng5 preferring quiet Nc7. After move 21 I see Rxd4 combination and wait for her move, she plays b4. So I take on d4 and start to feel like I won the game. She thinks for some time and plays Nd3. I see an opportunity to use the pin, then want to play 24… Bc4, then hesitate because of the check on e8 and play Bf7. The truth is Bc4 doesn’t win a piece, but forces a winning exchange – 25. Rex8 26. Qxe8 Qf8 27. Qxf8 Kxf8 28. Nb2 Rxd1 29. Nxd1 Bxa2. This was a first moment where my shape showed. Then I miss Bc4 again on move 26.

Anyway game continues and after her 35. g4 I don’t find Re8! and give up an exchange. It changes the character of the game forcing me to fight for a draw. I miss a good chance on move 45 to play Rd2 with following Bf7 and Bc4. Then I miss 48…. Re4 and 49… Qxe3. Her material advantage starts to show, eventually I lose “b” pawn and resign.

Game 2 – I have White, play Ruy Lopez and I think for the first time ever I get in 2 consecutive games inverted opening. Soon I enjoy free development and my opponent is experiencing the same problems I did in the previous game.

20. Bb4 is a hard move for him, because both Nc5 or dxc5 are bad. He has to find 21… Bb5, but he doesn’t see it. I see it only on the next move, so instead of Bxc5 take on d6. Then his 23… Bc6 allows me to attack his queen and it becomes impossible for her to defend the knight after 26… Qc7 27. Qc3 wins. His Qb5 loses as well after c4 and he resigns.

Day 2

Game 3 – I play with a girl, she starts with d4, Semi-Slav. I am surprised by her exchange on b8. I am satisfied after 15 moves and like my position. Computer thinks that I could play 27… Bc5 with -1.24 in my favor.

My 31… Nxe4 is definitely a mistake, though it is only +0.48. Psychologically I give up the initiative, having to think about  saving my knight. My next move 32… Qh3 is losing as she can play 33. Qf3 Qd7 winning the knight (33… Ng5 doesn’t work because of 34. Qf6). But she decides to sacrifice the bishop. I do not accept the sacrifice, though accepting would give me an advantage after 33… Kxf7 34. Qc4+ Kg7.

Around move 40 I feel that I am holding up. Then I decide to counterattack and play 44… Ng4.  Her 45. Nf5 is unexpected, I see Ne6+ threat. I do not know what to do and have a very little time left. So I still play Nxf2 and then after Ne6+ have to decide where to move my king. I am afraid to play 46… Kh8 because of 47. Nxd4 Qxd4 48. Qxf2 Qxc4 49. Qf8+ thinking it is a mate and not seeing Qg8. But the pawn endgame is lost for Black anyway. I play 46… Kh6 and then lose on time in the lost position.

There was by the way a miraculous escape after 45… e3! instead of Nxf2.  46. Ne6+ is met with 46… Qxe6+!! 47. Bxe6 exf2+ and White has to give the queen back because otherwise it’s a fork or mate, but loses anyway. If 46. fxe3 then Nxe3 47. Qf2 Nxc4 48. Ne6+ Qxe6+ 49. Qxd4+ and Black wins. Of course I couldn’t see it having almost no time left. Similar to the first game which went for 5 hours this game continues for 4 hours.

Game 4 – my opponent is unrated young man, after the tournament he gets 1534 rating. I am a bit mad after the morning game and it shows. I decide to make a typical pawn sacrifice with 16. h4 to open an “h” vertical. It works and I double my rooks on it, ignoring his queenside  play.

He allows me to take on h7 probably thinking that his king can escape through f7. I think how to prevent it and find Ng5. After that he resigns.

Day 3

Game 5 – I play with a young guy, he is unrated, gets 1521 rating after the tournament. He plays Scotch Gambit, his 5. 0-0 confuses me and I play 5… d6, then think for a long time how to reply on his 6. Ng5. I see 6… Ne5, but miscalculate and think I will be worse. Actually I am completely OK after 6… Ne5 7. Bb3 h6 8. f4 or 7. Qxd4 Be7.

So I choose 6… Be6 and get into real trouble. I feel a tremendous pressure and think that the game is probably lost, but try to make the best moves. Then I realize his 16. Re5 is not that strong, I would play Rd1 and computer recommends c4. It also says that 16… Kd8 was a bad move and Ng6 was equalizing.  He didn’t play 17. Qg3 keeping the advantage.

When he plays Bxd5 I consider for some time taking his bishop and then suddenly see that he can’t take my queen because of the back rank mate, so I can take his rook. I do it and start to feel that I will win. The  game becomes more and more technical and eventually he resigns in a completely lost position.

Game 6 – My opponent is a boy, his rating is about the same as mine. He plays Scandinavian Defense. I feel a bit tired after a tough game in the morning. The first bad sign is when I play 16. Ne5 and think I blundered because he has Qb6. I sigh with relief after he plays c5 not seeing that 16. Nc4 defends both pawns. Then I get him to take on c5 and create a weakness on the kingside. Computer doesn’t think that I have an  advantage here, I do not agree with that. He makes a mistake in a few moves, playing 26… Bf8 instead of Qf8 and loses a pawn.

On move 31 I exchange the rooks. After his 32… d4 I seriously consider 33. Nf5, but don’t like 33… d3 34. Nxg7 Kxg7 just because that pawn looks dangerous and actually computer evaluates this line as almost equal. Computer offers 33. Qd3 and I like it. Anyway, I play cxd4, then Qe2 and Qc2 to defend c1. Suddenly I see that my knight disappears from the board, I am in a shock. In a few moves I resign.

To say I am upset would be a big understatement, I finish the tournament on a bad note.