Last night I took my second stab at the St. John's Masters at the Marshall CC. When I played in September there were only 15 players including the house player. There was less then a 100 point difference between me and the next to last guy on the wallchart. Not that it mattered since he dropped out after the second round, so I didn't get to play him. I was shark bait for the experts who were losing to the IMs and GMs. This time there were 24 players including the house player. However this time there was a 300 point gap between me and #23. If I could simply win a game, I'd be a good candidate for the upset prize. Easier said, then done.
In the first round I played Boris Privman. I'm 0-11 against him. I actually had a good game against him. It would be my best effort of the night.
In this position Privman had just moved his king from f6 to e7. I had less then 30 seconds at this point, so I was blindly making moves. I played 47. Kf3. Several people including Privman thought I had good drawing chances with 47. Rc5. However Fritz came up with an even better idea. 47. e5 Rxe5 48. Rc5 Rxc5 49. Rxc5 Kf6 50. Rf5+ Kg651. Be4 Kh6 52. Rf8 Bxc6 53. Rf6+ Kg7 54. Rxc6 Rxc6 55. Bxc6. It took Fritz a few seconds to come up with this stuff. Even if I had found e5, I doubt I would have figured out the rest of it in the remaining seconds I had.
The remaining moves that I recalled were 47... Ra6 48. Bf1 Raxc6 49.Rxc6 Rxc6 50. Rxc6 Bxc6. It looks like I should be able to hold by staying on the b1 diagonal with my bishop, but his king can come in, and my passed e pawn isn't going too far. Eventually he was able to take advantage of my weak pawn structure, picked off the e and a pawns, and started marching his a pawn down the board.
So one would think after a near miss against the highest rated player I'd play all evening that I would be inspired in the next round. In theory that's what should have happened, but who said anything about me following theory? Reality check! Instead I got the bye and played the house player, Dolly Teasley. Everyone always gets a chuckle out of the Dolly vs Polly pairing. However there was nothing amusing about blundering a piece on the 9th move. Geez! I should have just taken the bye and saved myself the aggravation of losing so stupidly.
Once again Wright's Rule of Pairing comes to pass. "If there are only two women in a tournament they will get paired." Round three I play Iryna Zenyuk. This game was good knight-bad knight. Guess who had the bad knight? Though if you ask Iryna she probably say she had a bad night, having lost to a lower rated player in round two. I was holding my own out of the opening. This time I managed not to blunder a piece. I simply played too passively and gave her too much space to work with. At one point late in the game I look up and notice Grandmaster Yudasin watching the game. Too bad I couldn't read his mind, and get his analysis of the position. Though at that point perhaps even a grandmaster would not have been able to hold black's position.
Lately I've been getting into pretty aimless positions as black against d4. I do okay if I can play my Nimzo-Indian, but if they play stuff like the Colle or Stonewall I tend to muddle about. Both of my female opponents played d4 against me. Maybe I need to bring the Dutch Defense out of retirement. I actually used to play that in college.
In the last round I played Leif Pressman. The last time I played in this tournament I played him in the first round. This tournament was much stronger so he played Nick De Firmian instead of getting feast on shark bait. Even for a player rated 2192 there aren't easy games in a tournament this strong. After losing the first round he gets "paired down" to a 2113. That game is a draw. Round 3 with a half a point he gets "paired down" to a 2153. He was winning, and overlooked mate. Even high experts miss stuff. Finally he gets his true "down pairing".
I don't know if he thought this would be an easy match up for him, or whether he was just trying to annoy me. He went 27 moves without the clock going below the original 25 minutes. Time delay is a wonderful thing unless your opponent is making all his moves on delay. I didn't adjust the speed of my play to counter his blitz mode. I've had too many time scrambles with him where I came out on the short end of the position and/or the clock. Needless to say, I ended out with a significant time deficit. I messed up when I gave up my queen for two rooks, because I forgot he already had a piece. The best I was going to get out of the position was a rook for a knight and bishop.
So it was another 0-fer night. My lifetime record in this tournament now stands at 0-8. Outside the butt ugly loss against Dolly it wasn't such a bad night. The games were interesting, and against Privman I actually played well. On Chessloser's Blog he talked about not wanting to play in an open tournament where he'd get his butt kicked one round, and then kick some 900's butt in the next round. There was some spirited discussion about the merits of his thinking. As evidenced by my williness to pay for the privilage to qualify for the St. John's Masters, I don't mind the butt kicking. I'd rather lose to those guys then beat some clown who doesn't have a clue. Though sometimes I wonder do my high rated opponents think the same about me? I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that question.