Hallucinations At The US Open

U.S. Open took place from August 1st to 9th in Phoenix,AZ. Despite the terrible heat of the desert, the resort hosting the tournament is probably one of the nicest ones I’ve ever stayed in and the company was exquisite, making the tournament a very pleasant experience. With 8 pools, several spas, and a multitude of sports amenities, it’s quite difficult to get bored there.

 

Biltmore pool

main pool with the majestic temple in the back

 

The tournament maintained its usual 3-schedule format, in which players can choose between a 9 day relaxed schedule, a six day moderately intense schedule, to a ultra-hyper 4 day massacre in which the 4 dayers, as these warriors are called, will play 4 rounds in the first day and 3 in the second. This is an extremely daunting task, and a lot of people start having hallucinations during the last rounds of the night. Unfortunately for me I was one of those guys. For next year I’ve learned my lesson, I’ll chose a more professional approach and get at least on the 6 day wagon if not in the long 9 day schedule, which also seems to be easier than all the others from a strength point of view.

As one of the favorites of the tournament, I knew beforehand that in order to win this event I had to score an extremely high number of points (in 2013 there was a 4 way tie for first at 8/9 points!) so my hope was not to drop more than half a point in the first 6 rounds (schedules merge after that). Unfortunately things took a very unexpected turn early on, and worst chess nightmares started becoming reality…

first round US Upen

US Open 2015 Rd.1

 

The first three rounds were fairly easy business, with a small incident in round 2 where I failed to assess a materially unbalanced position and got worse.Luckily my opponent was in severe time trouble and ultimately succumbed under pressure.

US Open Rd.2
 

This incident was already hinting towards a possible disaster, but I try to keep such thoughts under control until something bad actually happens. Unfortunately I was not able to finish day 1 in one piece and in round four the difficulties started…

US Open Rd.4
 

This was not an easy pill to swallow and getting over it that night was no easy task. I woke up motivated to get back into the game with a solid performance in day two. The situation on the board was under control after the first 30 minutes of the game. I easily achieved a technically winning position (pawn up with no compensation) but unfortunately I again managed to find the only blunder in the position and allow my opponent to force a perpetual. I was already feeling the plague of blunders creeping into my game, and it was definitely not something I enjoyed!

US Open Rd.5
 

Despite these unfortunate games, I knew that scoring 100% from my remaining battles will allow me to touch the prize pool and perhaps even tie for the top spots. I decided to continue the tournament and not withdraw. Next three rounds were more or less easy business as I managed to outplay my opponents in clear fashion. Another thing I managed to keep under control was my time trouble addiction, which seems to be a difficult virus I’m dealing with. The pairings were also in my favor, as I doubled colors in 6th and 7th round and ended up having white in the last game against Chris Toolin, an NM from Dallas. I know Chris quite well from my time spent in Texas, as well as from our few previous encounters. He is definitely one of those guys that has a healthy competitive nature and like to pose as many problems during the game. I knew it will not be easy business to dispose of him. The game went perfectly fine, and with two moves before we signed the scoresheets for draw, I had a huge +4 advantage. Unfortunately I again hallucinated and blew the tournament in one move…

US Open Rd.9
 

Such is the nature of chess: cruel and unforgiving. From all the games I lost points in, I had a winning advantage and should have not allowed these blunders to take place. There is clear rustiness in my tactical training and I will have to make sure these things don’t become a habit. The only way of doing that is seriously engaging in a special tactics daily routine, therefore I plan to make tactics one of my main focus in preparation for future events.

temple climb

climbing the pool temple after the last round’s deception