Friday, December 21, 2007

Hell Week At The Marshall

Technically hell week started a week ago Thursday when I paid the extra $5 to qualify for this week's St. John's Masters. I don't even want to think about last Thursday's third round when I flagged against an unrated when I was up a pawn. This was super cracktion week for me. Tuesday was the St. John's Masters which once again I subjected myself to paying for the privilege of getting pounded on by higher rated players. Then on Thursday I returned to the scene of the crime for "4 Rated Games Tonight!" Which lately keeps turning into "3 Rated Games and a Bye Tonight!" What a week. Not my lucky week that's for sure. Maybe I should play 13 in the lottery.

In the first round of the St. John's Masters I played Boris Privman for the 13th time. For the 13th time I lost to him. He joins Jay Bonin as the second member of the 13-0 club against me. It was one of my better games against him. There are centainly other players who have more wins against me, but I've managed to nick them for a win or two. Leif Pressman has beaten me 30 times, but I've won 2 and drawn 3. Yeh, I know my winning percentage against Pressman still sucks. But .100 seems a whole lot better then .000. Hell, even .050 against King Kong looks better on paper. Though if truth be told, and I don't really need to be tell my regular readers this; .000 against a FIDE master is less annoying then .050 against a 5th grader with a rating a little higher then mine.

This is my game against Privman:

On move 20 he played Qb6+. It seems I lose a pawn after 21. Kh2 Qxb4, except I came up with the nice cobination of 22.Nd5 Qa3 23.Nxe7+ Kf8. I was content to simply win the pawn back so I traded queens with 24. Qxa3 Rxa3. What Privman pointed out afterwards that instead of trading queens I should play 24. Qc2! after Kxe7 25. Ra1 Qxa1 26. Nxa1 Rxa1 27. Qb2 Ra7. It's not an easy win since he has a rook, knight and pawn for the queen, but he felt I was better.

Unfortunately I played quieter, and though it was equal for a while the position started to unravel for me around move 50. He had two passed pawns on the b and f files. It's hard to be in two places at once. If only I could clone my king. One can see that at the end his king has penetrated, and one of those passers is coming in.

Having played a decent game against Privman I thought maybe this would be the night I might finally score a point in this tournament. Round two was against Vladimir Polyakin. He's part of my Thursday night usual suspects group. He's another one that I have a sucky record against, but I do have 2 wins to go along with the 15 losses. This particular night I'd end out with loss #16, not win #3.

Rounds three and four were against players I don't play too often, and I actually have won against them in the past. Both games went down to endings, but I had lost too many pawns earlier. In round three I missed an exchange sacrifice that when I have to give back the exchange I'm down 2 pawns and heading to a rook and pawn ending.

Round four I again lost pawns earlier. I guess it pawn dropping night. It's hard to hold an ending of opposite colored bishops when your opponent has just played 50... Kc4 and your position looks like this:

The Black king has penetrated and d4 will totally cut my bishop off. All over except the shouting. Another St. John's Masters with another 0-4 score. I felt like I played better, but I missed small things that cost me pawns early. I can't be giving away pawns, especially against players who outrate me by 300 to 500 points.

So Thursday night I return to the scene of the crime. How I played in round one against Larry Tamarkin was a crime. Second time this week someone has pushed their record to 13-0 against me. Unlike loss #13 against Privman thsi one had no redeeming features to it, and I played like crap. The only reason I didn't resign was I wanted to see which way I'd get mated. The final position gives White the choice of mating with a rook or queen. I'm not even going to post the position. It's too much like work. He opted to mate with the rook, and it wasn't enough to simply deliver the mate, he had to say "mate". Some things are best unsaid. I tend not to say mate, just in case it isn't. I'd rather let the opponent draw his own conclusion.

After Tuesday's 0-4 being fresh in my mind, one would think I'd just not even think about trying to qualify for January's masters tournament. However the opportunity presented itself to slide in so I paid my $5, and hoped that for a change I would actually score a point on Thursday by doing something besides getting a bye. Round two was not going to be the round. I couldn't believe it, I actually got paired against someone I've never played before. That rarely happens in this tournament. Unfortunately different player did not lead to different second round result. I overlooked a fork and tossed a bishop on move 25. Different day, same old crap. The rest of my evening merits its own post. This one has gone on long enough.

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