#9 - Road to 2400: - Checkmates and Cannoli

AnalysisOver the boardTournamentLichessStrategy
The Italian National Team Chess Championship was held between March 15 and 17, where, similarly to last year, I strengthened the team of Palermo - now in a higher division - in the Sicilian A2 Championship. I was at the top board, so I could expect to play in a strong field.

I arrived one morning before the competition, so I had plenty of time for a little sightseeing. I visited the city's landmarks, the iconic fish market, and of course, I tasted everything I could.
Despite the many similarities, I felt significant differences between Catania and Palermo, and I must say, I really liked it. The experience was enhanced by the fact that my accommodation was right in the city center, and the company was super and youthful The quality and variety of food were fantastic here, just like in Palermo!
As in the previous year, the draw was a bit unlucky, and I had to play with the black pieces three times out of five. Then it turned out that one team withdrew from the competition on-site, and guess who, the team that I would have played with white So I ended up playing three out of four games with the black pieces.
I think my play was quite promising; I didn't feel troubled in any of the games. Of course, the recipe was the same again: against stronger opponents, I didn't dare to continue playing a favorable position and settled for a draw. According to the engine, I played with 99% accuracy, which I've never had before! In the second round, following the tried and tested recipe's second stage, as a prospect, I could not beat my opponent with the black pieces. The third round somewhat compensated; I won effortlessly and spectacularly with white.
The team didn't have a specific goal; frankly, I didn't pay attention to questions of strength ordering that didn't concern me. Suddenly, I noticed that we had won all our matches, and the final round was coming up, where a 2-2 draw would be enough for the championship title. My last opponent, a young IM, seemed like a tough nut to crack, but we were clearly superior on the other boards. I took the "task" very seriously and prepared as much during lunch break as I had for the previous three games combined. But certainly I flipped through a variation, saying "no one will play this anyway," and of course, it came out... so after the opening, my teammates scrutinized my daunting position quite ominously. But I've struggled with the black pieces my whole life, embracing the pain and for some perverse reason, I enjoy it. So my pulse doesn't rise for such trivialities as not being able to move, until the position is losing. I managed to maneuver until an entirely equal position was reached, but at this point, something happened that I'm still under the influence of. The machine evaluation was 0.00, and I made a move that immediately turned it into +6.50, and I had to resign the game. Whether this is called "chess blindness" I don't know... but it bothered me all evening because the fate of the championship depended on this half point, so we could only step onto the second place of the podium.
However, the series of surreal events didn't end here; during the award ceremony, it turned out that I was the best first board player of the tournament with a 50% performance. Seeing my honest amazement, they explained that a round-robin had formed where the number of games played with the black pieces and the head-to-head result were decisive, but I didn't quite understand this, I just acknowledged the facts
The economy is booming, progress is unquestionable, and I ended the competition with a stable +1 score and a lot of experience. Soon I'll continue in Denmark

The analysis of the games can be found at the following links:

1st round

2nd round

3rd round

4th round

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