Part 3: Round of 16

I was paired against GM Gawain Jones in the first round of the knock out. The time control was 15min for the game and 3sec added per move. I was resting after my 7th round draw and found out who I was playing about 40min before the first game. That was the same time I found out that I qualified.

Not much time to prepare, and I just tried to stay fresh. I haven’t played serious active games in several years, so I had no idea as to what to expect from myself.

Unfortunately, the games were not recorded and I will not be able to post them here. Saves me some time. I will give you a summary instead. I was to play white in the first game. Gawain played the benko gambit. Gawain is very familiar with the opening as black and played quite a rare sideline. I was spending a lot of time in the opening while my opponent was just blitzing away. But I was able to get a pretty good position.

In the middle game Gawain completely outplayed me and took over the initiative. He kept creating problems and at first I had to give up the extra pawn, and then he overtook the initiative, and then I lost a lot of material. Losing the first game with white was brutal.

This meant that I had to win the second game with black, and I chose the ever risky modern defense. I believe that that’s what 1.e4 d6 is called, even though it transposes into the pirc. I was trying to push the position into unclear waters the whole game but Gawain stayed solid throughout and never got into any trouble. We played until we had bare kings.

I lost the mini-match, which was quite disappointing. I was quite happy to see Gawain draw against Mamedyarov twice in the quarter finals, showing that maybe I didn’t play that badly, and that rapid chess really suits him.

The chess didn’t end here… There was a blitz tournament (part 4) to come the next day.

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