Monday, August 12, 2013

Washington International: Round 1

I took the last week off of work to play the Washington International tournament, a great opportunity to play many of the strongest opponents I have ever faced. There were too many good and bad moments for me to fully analyze so far, so I'm breaking the recap into pieces.

When I arrived for the first round, I found out that I was seeded 49th out of a 60 player field, a sign that this would be an uphill battle. The impression was further confirmed by my first round pairing against Grandmaster Gildrado Garcia, the 11 time champion of his native country, Columbia! Entering this game my lifetime score against Grandmasters in rated games was 0-5, with none of the games being particularly close.

In order to take advantage of his additional experience and rating, my opponent played an unusual, method of development in the opening, sacrificing king safety for an opportunity to grab the bishop pair. After 11 moves we reached the position below where I had three options for how to recapture on g3. I was intrigued by his weakened kingside and chose the overly aggressive (not for the last time this week) fxg3. This severely damaged my pawn structure and king safety, but made it easier for my rook to attack f7. The Grandmaster defended well, and almost by force we reached an endgame where I had a queen against two rooks and a pawn. This was a severe material disadvantage, but the open position of black's king gave me some counterplay and I'm not sure if my position was ever lost with best play. Once the queenside pawns were traded, my opponent allowed a repetition of moves because his king would never find shelter.

Summary: Overly aggressive play got me into trouble, but solid defense held the draw against a strong player.

Lesson I should have learned: Don't enter unclear complications where there are normal moves to improve a good position.

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