Saturday, September 22, 2007


Thank God it's Saturday! I can't lose any more USCF rated games this week. The week of 9/16 - 9/22 was the chess week from hell. And I thought US Open week in August was bad! That was a piece of cake compared to this week, even though I played more games that week in August. So let's take a look at the two weeks.

From 7/29 - 8/4 I played 21 games of rated chess. (I left out round 9 of the US Open since that technically was played the following week.) That week I scored 6 wins, 3 draws, and 12 losses. The ratings of players I played that week ranged from 714 to 2670. The average rating of my opponents was 1615. If I throw out the 3 extreme ratings of 714, 734 and 2670 the average goes up to 1656. (It's amazing the stuff you can do with downloaded rating history and an Excel spreadsheet.)

From 9/16 - 9/22 I played 13 games of rated chess. I scored 1 win, 0 draws, and 12 losses. The ratings of my opponents ranged from 1442 to 2287. The average rating of my opponents was 1847. There were no extreme rating differences so even throwing out the top and the bottom gives me 1843 opponent average. Big deal! This past week was clearly a tougher week of chess. The average rating and my "lovely" win loss record tells the whole story.

What can one say about a week that starts out with my getting stomped on by a bunch of kids? But that wasn't even the worst of it. Whoever said "Mondays suck!" may have been a fly on the wall at the Bob Peretz Chess Club this past Monday. Not only did I lose 2 games, but I had to give myself the bye in the 2nd round. I played the number 1 and 2 players on my most frequently played list. Both games were comedies of errors. My opponents and I were hanging pieces left and right. We seem to bring out the worst in each other. Maybe that explains why our team did so poorly at the USATE in February. Sheesh! And the three of us teach chess to kids??

By the time Thursday arrived I was on a 9 game losing streak that got extended to 10 with a butt ugly 18 move loss to FM Asa Hoffman. I finally won a game where I was on the verge of offering a draw, but that was before my opponent so nicely hung a knight in my time pressure. That win led to my match up with Eric Hecht. We've played 8 times with my record being 2 wins, 3 draws, and 3 losses. We tend to get paired in either the 3rd or 4th round of "Four Rated Games Tonight!" with neither of us having many points. We both have "clock management" issues, so our games usually end with one of us flagging, or taking a draw because neither of us have enough time to convert a small advantage.

I had no reason to believe that this game would any different then our previous encounters. Boy was I wrong. But then again I wasn't expecting the Morra Gambit from him. The last time I had black against him was a year ago and he played Nc3 on the second move. I hate the Morra Gambit. I lost an ugly game in the 2006 US Open against it because I walked into a stupid ass trap by playing Bg4. That's one of those phantom pins, or as David Mac Enulty calls them in his book Chess Tactics for Kids, a pin that's not a pin. Since that game I've managed to avoid falling into Morra Gambit traps, until Thursday.



I think that was my shortest rated game ever. 10 moves in 11 minutes. I think 1/2 of the 8 minutes I used was spent debating on whether I should resign on move 10, or let him mate me on move 11. Ugly, ugly, ugly!! Maybe I'll write a book called "Medusa Chess" and fill it up with all my ugliest losses that will cause the reader to turn to stone. Maybe I need to take up the Von Goom Gambit.
Tomorrow is another day, and the start of a new week. Hopefully it will be a better week for me. I don't think it can get any worse.


Joe said...

Do you play on ICC? If so, you should definitely watch IM Alex Lenderman's series of videos on the Smith-Morra Gambit. They're excellent- they show all the traps for black to fall into, and finally, in the last installment, show black players (like me) how to smash the gambit.

Polly said...

I guess that will be a good reason to renew my ICC membership.

Thanks for the tip!

Today Asa Hoffman had an old Ken Smith Monograph from 1972 on the Smith-Morra Gambit. (He buys and resells used books.) Terribly out of date, and all in English Descriptive.

Icepick said...


Well, it can't be worse than playing over my own games....


Right, that was no worse than playing over my own games. Recently I lost to two different 1100's, one by dropping a rook on move 7, and the other by getting mated on move 9. I'd say it happens to the best of us, but since I'm only a 1750 USCF I'm no where near the best....

Polly said...

Icepick, you're making me feel a whole lot better about my games. Ugh dropping pieces early is painful. At least when I drop them later I can blame it on the clock.

Glenn Wilson said...

Thanks for posting this. Where do you vary your play if someone tries this same line again?

Polly said...


Fortunately no one has played the line agaisnt me since. I haven't really had much time to study it, and avoid all the nonsense. Probably if it comes again. I may just ignore the pawn and transpose into a c3 Sicilian.