Saturday, November 3, 2007

King Kong On My Back: Adult Knightmares Redux

The final paragraph of my post of September 16th said: So am I masochistic enough to play again when the next tournament there comes up? You betcha. I'm not letting a clean sweep get me down. Payback time is coming. Actually I played there in October, and managed an even score. I didn't play any of the same three kids that smacked me around in September, so I didn't really feel like I got payback. Winning a game where I was down a piece was satisfying, but it was off set by getting totally crushed by a kid who's in one of my lunch time classes. Ouch! (Sometime I will post on the topic of losing to former and current students, but not right now.)

Now it's November and I had an opportunity for payback time. Two out of the three kids from September were in my quad on Friday night. Instead of being #2 in the quad I'm #3. The two kids from September's quad are now higher rated then me, though not by much. Once again this is a very balanced section. The ratings range from 1721 down to 1666. First round I play black against Harry, and he beats me. Exact same opening, and I had the exact same problems. (Note to self: scrap 8...d5 against the attempted Yugoslav transposition. It's sucks!)

Next round it's time to play King Kong. I've made references to certain players who seem to be the proverbial monkey on my back. Those are the players that just completely have my number. There are 4 players that I've played more then 10 times that I am 0-fer against them. They are Jay Bonin 0-13, Larry Tamarkin 0-12, Boris Privman 0-11 and Ilya Lugonov 0-11. As annoying as that may seem I can take consolation in the fact that they are all at least 300 points higher rated then me.. There are a number of other players that I've played 5 or more times that I'm 0-fer against, but playing them doesn't fill me with fear.

So what's with me and King Kong Kevin? The first time I played him was February of 2006. He was rated 1253, and beat me in 45 moves. It was annoying but it wasn't the first time some 9 year old kid with a lower rating had beaten me, and it certainly wouldn't be the last time. He beat me again in April, November and December. I figured he'd be my next Ben G. Ben beat me 5 times in a row as a lower rated little kid. Then I beat him 5 times in a row. Then Ben started beating me again, but he's 1900 so who am I complain?

So after losing to Kevin again in January of 2007 for the 5th straight time, I figured next time I'd win. I didn't lose, but I didn't win either. I missed winning a pawn, but ended out in an ending where the material was even. I thought he was slightly better, but he offered me a draw. Since a draw gave me 1st place in the quad, who was I to turn it down. Trying to beat him would have to wait. It didn't happen in September......

I think it's become a totally mental thing now. I'm allowing myself to get psyched out by him. Even before the game he was bugging me, and asking if I was going to play the English against him. I decided I wouldn't play the English. Instead I played d4, and went for a Colle like position. We reached the following position after 12 moves.

I was considering the Bishop sac on h7. I couldn't work it all out, and I ended out chickening out. My thoughts at the time were, "I don't know if it's sound, but if it's not I don't want lose to him. I'll play Ng5, and even if my attack peters out, I won't be down material." I think against anyone else I would have said, "Go for it! Even if there isn't an outright win, you'll get play. It will be fun!" When I put the position into Fritz that move wasn't even considered, but when I put 13. Bxh7 this was what Fritz came up with.

Analysis by Fritz 5.32:
1. ± (0.75): 13...Kxh7 14.Ng5+ Kg6 15.Qd3+ Kf6 16.Qh3 Qd7 17.Ne4+ Ke7 18.Bg5+

2. +- (2.22): 13...Kh8 14.Ng5 g6 15.Qg4 Qd7 16.Bf4 Bxf4 17.Qxf4 Qe7 18.Rad1

Both lines look pretty good for me, but because of who I was playing I couldn't pull the trigger.

The rest of the game went like this;

13. Ng5 h6 14. Qh5 Qd7 15. Rd1 f5 16. Bxc6 ({Fritz 5.32:} 16. Nxe6 fxe4 17. Nxf8Kxf8 18. Be3 Ne7 19. Bxc5 Nf5 20. g4 g6 {[%eval 206,10]}) 16... Qxc6 17. Nf3 Rad8 18. Re1 e5 19. b3 Rd7 20. Bb2 g6 21. Qxg6+ Rg7 22. Qe6+ Kh7 23. Kf1 Rg6 24. Qc4? Ba6 0-1

I included analysis from Fritz for my 16th move. I felt this was the crucial part of the position where I started letting him back into the game. By move 18 I was getting defensive, and panicky. Again I attribute that to who I was playing. When he played 23...Rg6, I knew my queen was toast. My best try is simply 24. Qxg6, but I played Qc4, knowing full well that he had Ba6. It wasn't like I overlooked it in time pressure. I didn't feel like playing down a queen for a rook, so somehow I was hoping beyond hope that he wouldn't play 24...Ba6. When he did play the move I promptly resigned.

Kevin couldn't help but to point out at the end that I should have played 24. Qxg6. I admitted that I saw the move and didn't play it. He made the astute observation to the effect of "I don't understand why you chose to make the move that loses more material." I didn't want to admit that I was playing "hope chess" (I hope my opponent doesn't see.....), so I simply said "I don't know, I just did."

It's frustrating to allow somebody to get into your head like that. It's even more frustrating when it's a precocious 10 year old kid who knows that he's gotten into your head. After the round was done I heard him bragging to the other kids that "I killed Polly." He told my last round opponent to sac against me, and that he would win. Usually he's not so animated about his wins against me, but I think he knew that it was more then a game of chess he won.

I'm not sure how to prepare for my next game against him. I could play him again next week, or next month. Somehow I have to get past the head games and figure out how to beat him over the board. The other kids in the section don't have these problems with him. He lost to Harry, and drew a won ending against Josh. In September he drew with Harry and got crushed by Robert. Maybe I need to take lessons from Robert. :-) Maybe I have to start thinking like a 10 year old.

PS. Josh and I drew in the last round, so at least it wasn't a repeat of the 0-3 September blow out.


ookwelbekendalsemc said...

That position you showed, and the analysis... Those are typical King side Colle attacks. If we only had a build in Fritz inside our brains. Wouldn't chess life be a whole lot easier?

Or better yet, a Rybka.

Polly said...

Fritz and Rybka in the brain. Unfortunately if we could have it, so could everyone else. Gone would be wild time scrambles, amusing blunders, psychological warfare and all that other good stuff that makes chess so challenging. Without all that would in earth would we blog about?

Hmmm, "The other day I had Rybka 3000 inplanted in my brain. My doctor said I should be able to start playing again by the weekend...."

No thanks! I'll take my thumpings like a man, oops woman.

Icepick said...

Polly, unless there's a pattern to the chess in your games against King Kong, don't worry about "How to beat him?" Just play chess.

Also, against youths, I've personally found that the more boring the game the more likely they are to lose interest and transition into bad (often positionally lost) situations.

So, just play boring chess!

Just another 1700 player

Polly said...

Boring chess! LOL Though boring chess has its own pitfalls for me. When I'm bored with the position I find myself wasting time trying to make an interesting move. Only when I get into severe time trouble does it become interesting again as I scramble to outrace the clock.

Wahrheit said...

Do you happen to have access to Polugaevsky's Grandmaster Preparation? I seem to remember an inspiring section about how after a tough loss put him in jeopardy of not qualifying for the Candidates Matches, he had to play Portisch in the last round and he ran into Najdorf who said "You have the advantage--he needs a draw, but you need a win!"

Or, if that fails, you could imagine him whining about having to wear the Spiderman pajamas Aunt Elsie gave him...that would put him mentally in his proper place :)

Glenn Wilson said...

I'm not sure how to prepare for my next game against him.
Study your previous games. Use Fritz. Figure out where you can improve for the openings that were played. See all the errors Fritz points out in his play (he is human, right?).

Manage your time.

Stifle counterplay. (A riff on what icepick said).

Play the position.

Keep emotion out of it. (Easy to say...)

Kick his ass.

Icepick said...

Riffing on Wahrheit's suggestion, imagine King Kong in Ralphie's Deranged Easter Bunny costume from "A Christmas Story".

ookwelbekendalsemc said...

I like to think too that way Polly. In fact i feel computers are destroying chess in a way. It takes the creativity out of the game.

BlunderProne said...

My new hero once said :

Jacques Mieses: "I can be accused of playing bad chess, but I can never be accused of playing boring chess."

I have my little rabel rousers to deal with too. Glad to see you take in in stride as well.

Quix said...


I would have been tempted to play Bxh7+ too ok next time in your situation like that and can't calculate it all out listen to your intuition weather it's telling you to sac you have to trust your inner voice and go with it! Against Young Players play slowly and carefully Youth move very very fast and they really love their Queen they move it early and often so if your alert you can punish that and their tendency to ignore general principles and development!

Naisortep said...

When someone has a great score against me I concentrate on how overconfident they will be when we play again. All those losses are in the past, when the game starts it starts from an equal position (or at least +/=). I'd also recommend you play 'boring chess' or at least let him start the attack out of frustration and then you can counterattack with gusto.

Polly said...

Thanks for all the different suggestions. I'm going to pick apart my games with him, and see what I come up with. The first one I just blogged.