Good old Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
I think Murphy must have been a chess player, or at least known some unlucky ones. He and his fellow law makers seemed to be hard at work this Labor Day weekend. So here are some the laws of chess that you won't find in the rule book.
Carrier's Law of Playing Room Temperature: No matter what you wear it will not be right.
I always have problems with this one. If I have on a short sleeve shirt, shorts and no socks it will be freezing in the playing room. If I have on long sleeve shirt, pants, and regular shoes it will be hot. Generally I find that for summer tournaments I should wear winter clothing, and for winter tournaments wear summer clothing. The first day I was freezing during all my rounds. I wanted to buy a sweatshirt from the concession, but they were out of my size. The next day I came prepared. I had a sweatshirt, and wore socks with my sandals. (I know it looks dorky!) Spent most of the day without the sweatshirt on. On a bright note, I managed not to leave it en prise. I have a tendency to lose things that I'm not using.
Godiva's Law: The more you need chocolate, the less likely you'll have any available.
Some people do drugs, or drink a lot. My recreational drug of choice is Dove dark chocolate. I love the stuff. I get a bag of the miniatures, and usually take a few pieces to tournaments with me. Generally I allow myself one per round. It's my little treat to myself, and a nice pick me up if I'm having a crappy game.
I played the two day schedule so my first three games were G/50. For the three games I played at that time control, I had a grand total of 7 seconds left at the end. When I'm having those kinds of "clock management" issues, I need my chocolate real bad. Unfortunately, I had left it at my sister's house where I had stayed during the tournament. Maybe I'm going to have to create a chess equipment check list for tournaments. I do check lists for triathlons, so why not chess?
Wright's Law of Byes: A bye never comes at a time that the player might actually want it.
Anyone who read my account of my last round at the US Open knows my opinion of un-played games in the form of forfeit wins, or byes. However there are times where they come in handy. The last round of a local tournament is not a bad spot to get the bye. If you're staying with family or a friend during a multi-day tournament and get the bye for the last round of the day that's not too bad either. You can go back to the house, have dinner, catch a movie, play cards, etc.
There have been many times when I've stayed at my sister's house during this tournament and she's told me that if I finished my last round early to come join them for a cookout that evening. Do you think I've ever gotten a bye for that particular round? NO! In fact is most likely that the game will last the entire 6 hours. Naturally because my sister and the kids were at a party in New Jersey, this would be the year I'd get a bye for the 4th round. Fortunately at a tournament this size there is always a few people floating around that are available to be the house player. I ended out playing the father of a kid that I played last Thursday at the Marshall. My result against dad matched my result against the kid. Ostrovskiy Family 2 - Wright 0.
In the first two rounds I got paired against players that I played in last year's tournament. My first round opponent I played last year in the third round. Last year I drew against him. I'd like to say that I got the same result this year, but unfortunately I did not. My second round opponent I also played last year in the second round, and unfortunately I did match last year's result against him. It was a case of the wrong Wright winning.
The last round featured a battle of the 1700 floors. We were the "win challenged" group. "Win-challenged", a nice way to say loser. The only reason his line on the wall chart didn't look exactly like mine was because he opted to take his bye point and go home Saturday evening. So what's a fitting result for the win-challenged? Wanna draw??? This was not a grand master draw, or perhaps in our case, a grand patzer draw.
I played 34. Qf3, and offered a draw. I didn't really see any good chances to force the major pieces off the board and push the passed pawn. I knew if I tried to push the pawn with the major pieces still on the board, it was going to be toast. Fritz gave white plus over minus, and the suggested lines didn't force the issue. We had been playing for three hours already, and trying to squeeze a win of out the position for another couple hours wasn't what I really wanted to be doing at that point. Having steak cooked on the grill, and fresh corn on the cob with my sister and niece sounded like a better plan. Perhaps if first place was on the line I would have played on, but one starts out 0-5 the difference between 1/2 - 5 1/2 and 1 - 5 is nominal. Score one for my tummy.
When Life Imitates Blog
A few weeks ago I did a Letterman Top 10 list of signs you're having a bad tournament. Some of the items on the list were plausible, and some of them were utterly ridiculous. I haven't ended out in a broom closet yet, but at one team tournament the bottom boards were being played at a hotel across the street. I also haven't seen the pairing program crash trying to pair somebody with a really bad score, though in the last round of a 10 round insanity an 8.5 played a 2.5 because the 8.5 had beaten everyone in the other score groups. Yes, I have lost to the bye. That's what happens when I've gotten repaired against the bye player from another section. I've lost to kids who are up past their normal bedtime, though not quickly or having the kid tell me it's mate in four.
Losing a game of chess to a dog is not going to happen. I don't care how smart the dog is, or how stupid the human is, the dog will not win. Though if they're playing "give away chess" the dog might win by eating all his pieces. However after my Bloody Sunday of 0-4 it should not have surprised me that I could lose to a dog. However this was not a game of chess, but more like a tug of war. When I got back to my sister's house I took her dog out for a walk. What else could possibly go wrong? Well when a 100 pound lab wants to go chase something you can either try to keep up, or let go. If you can't do either then of those things then you're going down. So like the rest of my day, I went down. Score one for the dog.
The name of my blog is Castling Queen Side. My line on the wall chart after three rounds looked like a queenside castle 0-0-0. After 5 rounds it look like both white and black had castled on opposite sides of the board on the same move. 0-0-0 0-0. The last round draw prevented the second queenside castle.
I came very close to completing black's queenside castle. After losing the fifth round in less then an hour and half I seriously considered dropping out. I could have been on the road by 11:45 after a completing a 9:00 am round. I could have hit the road even earlier if I had resigned after I lost the second pawn, and my king position was utterly trashed. However I couldn't stand the thought of finishing in less then an hour. Besides where was I going to go? When you choose to play in a tournament over a major holiday weekend you forfeit all the major holiday weekend festivities like cookouts, pool parties, day at the beach, etc. My choices were go home to an empty house, go back to my sister's and watch her and her daughter go crazy the day before they were leaving to take her to boarding school for the first time, or I could suck it up and wait the four hours to try to redeem myself in the last round.
I suppose when you're 0-5 there isn't really any redemption in the last round even you do manage to win. Whoopie! The winning percentage goes from .000 to .166. My last round draw raised it to .083. Major league managers have gotten fired with better winning percentages then that. I really don't like dropping out when I'm having a bad tournament. In 35 years I've done it three times. Once when I decided going to Disneyland would be more fun then playing the last round of the US Open. Another time I was going back and forth between the NY State Championship in Long Island and my house every day. It almost certain I was getting a bye in the fifth round so I decided I really didn't want to travel out there for just one game. There was no guarantee they could find me an opponent for the morning round. At another NY State Championship I left after the fifth round and gave a fellow dropout a ride back to White Plains to catch the train to NYC. That was my good deed dropout, saving the guy a bus ride back to the city.
Hmmmm, there seems to be a recurring pattern here. NY State Championship = lousy results. Maybe I need to play somewhere else over Labor Day weekend. Does Hawaii hold their state championship over Labor Day weekend? Oh that's right I'm VP of the state association and we hold our annual meeting over the weekend. I guess it would be bad form to be at another state's championship.