Prospect won their first match of the year against Palatine, 42-26. Prospect swept the top four boards and Palatine swept the bottom four. As I have in the past, I will try to analyze games from the matches that illustrate tactical and strategic points that I have seen arise regularly in high school games.
Medrano v. Gunawan 8th Board.
Games on the lowest boards are frequently decided by unprovoked blunders. One of the players overlooks the fact that his queen is under attack or fails to see that he is vulnerable to a back rank mate. Just as frequently, however, the blunder does not simply materialize out of this air. Often one of the players has achieved an advantage in space or development that that leaves his opponent without any good choices. When a player says "I lost because I missed a tactic on the 20th move," the truth is often that they lost because they failed to develop their pieces and fight for the center on the 5th to 15th moves.
Palatine junior Cyntia Madrano's win over Prospect freshman Adrian Gunawan is a good illustration of this principle. Cyntia took control of the center and developed her pieces actively. Playing in his first match, Adrian played somewhat passively and found himself in a cramped position with his pieces undeveloped. When Cyntia's attack came, Adrian overlooked some tactics, but none of his choices were very attractive.
Piotrowski v. Jian, 7th Board.
Nick Piotrowski's game against Harry Jian was decided by unprovoked blunders. Neither player had an advantage in either space or development, however, they overlooked tactics that should have been within their skill set. In such cases, the player to make the last mistake will be the loser and in this game it was Nick.
My best guess is that the blunders were mostly the result of the players playing to quickly. A player should not make his move on the board until he has taken the time to figure out his opponent's strongest response to the move he intends to play. If he is unsure of his opponent's best move, he should probably think some more. Sometimes of course, his opponent will come up with a tactic that he hadn't anticipated, but if he has taken the time to think about the position, that tactic is much more likely to become part of his own skill set in the future.
I hope that no one will take offense when I point out mistakes. Mistakes are part of the game and everyone makes them. I can assure every player in the conference that I can give examples of blunders in my own games that are just as bad as anything I have seen in the Mid-Suburban Conference. The primary difference is that I don't make them quite as frequently.