Exhausted and happy after Zadar Open | Road to GM, Games 50 and 51

The final two rounds of the Zadar Open. After the first seven rounds I was at 4/7, and the last two games were finally gave me a chance to win some rating points and games against higher rated opponents.

In round 8 I faced an opponent rated 2023. He plays several defenses to e4, and most often chooses the Alekhine Defense. I prepared the main line for white, trying to avoid the systems I played previously. I usually play the position with the knight on f3, which a Croatian GM Zelcic and I were discussing and he made a great point that with the knight of f3, white is free to develop his bishop to g4 and have a normal position.

He pointed out that the knight should either be kept on g1 or developed to e2 in order to prevent black from developing his c8 bishop comfortably. So I prepared for that. I studied the lines and piece placements for about 13 hours in between rounds and I was happy with what I knew coming into the game.

My opponent did play the Alekhine and surprised me with a bad move. Bad idea really. He developed the bishop to g4 when my knight was on e2 and I could have simply played f3 to chase it away, but I didn’t. I developed and he even voluntarily gave his bishop up. I was better and built my advantage. I ended up winning a pawn and he got in time trouble, even blundering a knight before he resigned. Finally a good game!

In the last round I faced a 300 points higher rated opponent with black. He plays e4, d4 or Nf3, so I didn’t have enough time to prepare for every opening which could have arisen. I mostly looked at my Caro-Kann middlegames since I found no games of his in the Caro-kann and had no better way to prepare.

I got the bishop pair with a common pattern in the Exchange variation and had a nice opening advantage. I got a passed pawn and all my pieces were optimal. I failed to convert, though. The game ended in a draw and I realized I have to work on my conversion and on finding winning plans in equal and slightly better positions.

That’s it for the Zadar Open. I didn’t reach my goal of 1900 ELO in 2018. I’m at 1888 now, or will be once the list is updated. I tried and came close. Still, I think it was a very instructive tournament! It’s exhausting to play, prepare and analyze for 17 hours a day. But there is nothing more fun in the world!

#chess #RoadtoGM #ZadarOpen


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