Bangkok!  Yes, that's where I recently finished a tournament.  In April, the weather was hot-pleasant.  Not humid.  Of course, you've to watch out for the water festival of Songkran from 13th to 15th.   The people are wonderful, at least the ones I met 🙂  Calm, happy and helpful!

This Thai tourney was a classic example of a roller-coaster tournament for me.  It started off with me barely scraping past a FIDE unrated player.  Phew!  

Well what do you know!  Next round I was paired with a GM.  Yes!  I prepared hard for the match, confident I'll play a good game.  I was doing well up until the point I had a tactical oversight.  I was upset with my performance.  Keeping the game equal for most of the time and then losing because of a small oversight is something that should not happen at my level.  It shows one has to remain completely alert till the very end - whether the game takes three, four or five hours.

After a fairly comfortable win in Round 3, lightning struck once again and I was paired with another GM.  This was just swell I thought.  Another chance!  The game was a complicated affair after I played a pawn sacrifice line which gave me compensation since I had better development and more space.  The game teetered on, until finally I began to feel that I've got something.  He was pretty much bogged down and I felt I could slow-squeeze him.   Unfortunately, I overlooked a possible good opponent move, which he played that undermined my pawn on e4.  Then the pressure of time began for both of us, and after some rapid moves we ended up agreeing to a Draw.  I was ecstatic.  My account had opened with GM's.  This was my first score against one, even a Draw was great, and it'll surely remain a  memorable moment.  

The next two rounds were heartbreaking.  In round 5, I was better against an IM but had another simple oversight.  It's even worse when you move the piece and immediately realize that it's a blunder.  Aargh!  Round 6 was the worst and it's still haunting me.  After outplaying a 2300, I had my chance but couldn't calculate a  Rook Sacrifice, which would have been a fantastic move.  I saw deep but not deep enough, which was the key.  As fate would have it I blundered and ended up losing.  I felt as if iron bars had just dropped on me.  My heart turned to stone and the sun disappeared from the sky.  What a sinking feeling.  Two unfortunate losses left me hurt.  Really hurt!  To cheer me up my wonderful mother and brother took me to Burger King which made me feel somewhat better.  Nothing like a big greasy burger to lift your spirits, eh!  Well, the "Burger-Boost" worked.  Try it next time.  

I got back on track in Round 7 with a victory against a Chinese girl who was rated 1990.  Next round was a hard-fought win over 4 hours.  Two wins and I was elated.  The feeling when you get after you win is something so unreal and hard to explain.  You've to feel it to know it

The last round I was paired with a FM from Austria who was rated 2289.  I was determined to win, as it would make up for at least some of my missed opportunities.  I emerged from the opening with a clear plus, but there were so many possibilities and pretty ironically I didn't chose the right one.  I fell into a slightly worse position.  I then opened up the game which helped me to develop my pieces more fluently.  I cemented my knight on d5 which acted as a slab of iron - powerful and unmovable.  I just kept the pressure with normal moves and eventually he was forced to trade down into a piece-down endgame. I won the final game without too many problems.  Three consecutive wins to finish the tournament!

I felt I played well against all higher-rated players.  I know the mistakes I made were avoidable.  I'll remember.  Making mistakes is part of growing stronger.  But you become stronger only if you learn from these mistakes.  Work on them.  Such is life!  But focus on the positives too, and there were many for me in this tourney.  I do have my first Draw with a GM to enjoy! 

The tournament was professionally organized.  Everything looked perfect.  Everything was perfect - the tables, seating, environment.  But I felt a bit of personal touch and warmth would have made the tourney even better.  It was too business-like for me.  I met Hou Yifan once again, which was great.  I had a picture taken with her in Delhi in 2011 when she visited for a tourney.  This time I got her autograph on that picture.  Wow!  I already feel stronger 🙂

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