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  • Writer's pictureJames Neal

Midwest Exodus

Driving from the Midwest to the Desert.

I completed my tour in the Midwest and it was time for me to get back to Wyoming. After the Port of Burlington event, I was prepared to continue the momentum in Schaumburg with our high powered lineup. We were the 3rd seeded players in the U2200 section but I was overly concerned with the annoying team of 2 grandmasters and an IM for their 3rd board. Their 4th board was rated ~800… I feel stacking a team like they did defeats the purpose of the event. If other people play by the expected rules of lining up a balanced team they will be at the mercy of the team that overpowers for the sake of winning on 3 boards. They knew going into the event they did not expect much from their 4th board. After the tournament, the fourth board did not seem to be having much fun either. He had a look on his face like someone that wasn't part of the team but a bystander watching the other 3 win the event on a technicality. Many of the other USAT hosts put in a 1000 point rating ranch limit to enable fair play. This might be something to look forward to next year. If you think about it, you could very easily assemble the top 3 players on earth and get under the U2200 limit with a weak enough 4th board...

They were upset the first round but they bounced back and were in great form against us in the final round... They won the final round with a score of 3 – 1. Here was my game against Praveen Balakrishnan I played cautious in the opening and he punished my slight inaccuracy to get an excellent middle game.

I was overall happy with my performance since I won the 4 other games and had a performance rating a little over 2500!

I will be taking a deeper look at my openings from here on out. Hopefully, I will clear up those opening oversights to be in great form for my dream tournament in California later this year.

I am currently in Las Vegas after making a circle through Wyoming to California and then to Nevada. I am planning to go into full training mode because there are some key tournaments I will need to be in shape for in March and April!

Next stop Reno!


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