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  • James Neal

Sheridan Open 2022

NM James Neal (2227) claims 2nd place (4/5) and adds 5 rating points (2232).

Last weekend I attended a chess tournament in Sheridan Wyoming. I was greatly impressed with the venue along with the vast amenities provided. I was given a water bottle and realized all sets and clocks were provided. I met and spoke with a few of my new friends and competitors and found out a lot more of the potential of chess in Wyoming. I have a good feeling I may revisit this area in the near future.


Prior to the start of this event I began my work on preparing for the challengers. There were 4 players higher rated then myself and only a couple masters held a lower rating than my 2232. I thought I could outplay both Brian and Joel in a 90 minute game so I did not spend any time researching them. Sullivan would be an issue for me since he plays relatively fast and has a good grasp of his odd preparation. I had great positions against him in past G25 events but was not playing quick enough to convert the positions. Those two losses were stinging reminders of adjustments I needed to make to improve my results. This event would be the debut of my new oatmeal diet. It has thus far given me a greater level of clarity than I had in all my 30-some years on this planet. I did not expect to flatten everyone but this event would be a good gauge of the diet's efficiency. My training had been lax leading up to this event so I suspect I will be fixing just one big piece of the puzzle.


The other higher rated players were: Shtivelband (2281) , Sarkar (2404), and Fishbein (2547).


I found out during the event that Shtivelband was an excessively fast player over the board. I noticed this the final round when he was paired up against Fishbein. He accumulated an hour advantage but was down a pawn. I thought Alex would be in trouble but everyone in the skittles room told me about Shtivelband's reckless disregard for his clock. Needless to say, he lost the game quickly after I left. I put in some time preparing for both of these players but the adjustment for Shtivelband will be patience with a complex position.


The game I lost came round 3 against Justin Sarkar (2404). The main irritation was the decision to change my opening strategy. My initial goal was to play the London System but the moment we both completed the Second move, I started having second thoughts. I convinced myself to play the Catalan instead of the London. My thought process was to get position that would be hard to lose. The flaw with the plan was that I did not know the Catalan anywhere near as well as I did the London. As the saying goes, "Fail to prepare then prepare to Fail." I ended up resigning the game at 31 moves.

I won all my remaining games which locked me into a three way tie for Second (Sullivan, Alex, and myself). I met a lot new people and enjoyed the event. I also felt a lot better about calculating. My new goal will be remastering my King pawn repertoire while making plenty of time to condition my calculations.

My next event will be a Saturday tournament in Colorado Springs.

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