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Adventures of a Samford: Perfect in Toronto Print E-mail
By GM Josh Friedel   
April 22, 2009
GM Josh Friedel, Photo courtesy Monroi.com
That’s right.  You have to endure another “Samford Report.”   Don’t worry though, I decided to spare you and only write a little bit.  I recently played in a couple events, the Foxwoods and Toronto Opens.  At Foxwoods I scored a solid 6.5/9, but I’m going to focus on Toronto for this report.  I actually had no intention of playing in it, and in fact didn’t even know about it until less than a month ago.  A friend of mine wanted to play in it, and it seemed like it had a prize fund sufficient to attract some strong players.  Couple that with the fact that I was offered a free room, and the fact I was on my way back to California from the east coast anyway, I decided to play.  I’d only played in Canada once, and while I didn’t play fantastically, the organizers were very hospitable and I had a great time.  Toronto turned out to be quite similar. 

I not only got a free room, but a huge suite.  On  the first night the main organizer, Brian Fiedler, sent up a bottle of wine.  I mean wow, where else do GMs get this kind of treatment?  Granted I haven’t been a GM very long, but it was easily the best experience I’ve had thus far.  As it turned out, this translated into an excellent result.  I scored 5/5, which amusingly was enough to only tie for first with GM Sambuev.  I’d suspect they got more people than anticipated, and therefore didn’t have enough rounds.  Despite this, I had mixed feelings about my play.  I suppose this is always true, and it certainly wasn’t a disappointing result by any means, but it could have another way.  I barely won my first game, beat GM Eugene Perelshteyn on time in round four (though granted, I was probably winning or close at that point), and almost let my last round opponent escape.  Still, I managed to pull out all my games, which is never easy.  I was never in serious danger of losing, which is a nice feeling to have as well.  My last round game, while certainly not perfect, was probably my favorite of the tournament. 


I got a pleasant edge from the opening as Black, and a significant time advantage. I sacked a couple pawns for the two bishops.  While I think the sac was correct, I misplayed it a bit, and the position became fairly unclear.  I was able to pressure my way to a win though, partly because my opponent was low on time.

So, next is the most important event on my calendar, the US Championship.  This year, due to the increased prize fund, all the big boys are playing.  While I don’t expect the same percentage I got in Toronto, I’m hoping to at least make a reasonable showing, maybe even bring out the form I managed at last year’s event.  Of course I can’t reveal all my prep, but I’m definitely going to analyze my recent games in detail to see where I’m lacking.  I’ll brush up on openings as well, do the usual tactics drills, and basically all the normal stuff as well.  While traveling, I find it is difficult to stay on an exercise routine as well, so I’ll be trying to get back on one now that I’m back in California.  This will include tennis and swimming for sure if this heat wave keeps up.  I’ll try to be ready both mentally and physically for the event, hoping to avoid the first round curse which was plaguing me earlier, but which I managed to avoid in both Foxwoods and Canada.  If all of this fails, I’ll just show up in Saint Louis in one piece and hope all goes well. 

Check out a video from Toronto by Zekjka of Monroi below.

Find more photos and games from Toronto on Monroi.com. The tournament's main sponsor was PriceWaterhouseCooper and was organized by Brian Fiedler. For a longer piece from Josh, check out his recent report on Capelle Le Grande.

April - Chess Life Online 2009

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