I had wanted to title this post the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, but in light of the tragic events in Illinois yesterday I thought better of it. My heart and prayers go out to the students and families. Such a senseless thing to happen.
What do chess loving women do on Valentine's Day? I guess not many of them chose to be playing chess. I was the only woman in "Four Heartfelt and Many Splendid Games Tonight!" That was Steve's holiday name for his weekly "Four Rated games Tonight!" In 2004 when the tournament fell on April 1st he titled the event "Four Foolish Games Tonight!" I think that title applied more to how my Valentine's night went. My heart was in every game I played, but there was nothing splendid about any of them.
The tournament started out with 14 players, and I was #14. That was going to make it hard to avoid the dreaded "please wait" in future rounds unless somehow I could win round one, or that the number of players stayed even through out the entire tournament. What were the odds of either of those things happening? I have no control over how many players enter for the second round, so all I could try to control was my first round result. Unfortunately Mr. Polyakin did not cooperate in my quest to win the first round and avoid the bye issue all together. This was game #21 between us, and like 18 out of the first 20 encounters I found myself looking at a butt ugly position with no redeeming features whatsoever. I was down the exchange, and after his 30th move I had the following choices:
a. Move my queen and lose a bishop.
b. Take the rook and give up my queen.
c. Capture the rook after it takes my bishop, and get back rank mated.
d. Stare at the position until my time runs out.
I opted for e. This gave me time to plot my bye stratagy. One needs to commit to requested byes by round two. I asked Steve whether we got an odd or even number of late entries. He told me we were up to 17. I told him if that did not change I would take a 1/2 point bye for round 4. That's what I call the pre-emptive bye. Take a 1/2 pointer later to avoid the 1 pointer earlier. I didn't want to sit around for an hour. Despite some bad luck I've had requesting a 4th round bye, I decided I would resort to that tactic for this tournament. I would get to make the 11:14 train, hubby would wait up for me, and we'd open up the Rose wine that we received Thursday from the wine club we joined when we were in California.
At least this time when I wiggled out the second round bye, I didn't get paired down. However I did get paired against another one of the usual suspects, Moshe Uminer. This would be our 14th encounter. The first time I had played him he was unrated, and I lost. He was one of those strong unrateds, not a chess newbie. We always have interesting games with somebody having clock issues. This game was no different.
In round three I get paired against the player who got the bye because of my pre-emptive strike. Steve had found a house player for Andre to play. I think Andre suffered from a case of Polly's House Player Syndrome. He hung a piece on the 13th move against him. It figures that the night I opt not to take my chances on getting a decent house player, the house player is rated around 2000. Usually when I need the house player he's rated 1100-1300.
This is the first time I've played Andre. (Are rare occurance on Thursday! Playing somebody for the very first time.) He has just started playing again, but I've known him from directing together at the NYC scholastics. Andre is also Steve's substitute TD when Steve's out of town or when he's putting in 800 kids' names into his computer.
I had a funny moment in the game. In the previous round Andre had hung his knight by pushing the b pawn that was guarding it. On the 14th move I my game I also pushed my b pawn leaving my knight on c6 unguarded by the b pawn. It was guarded by the queen, but several times I almost moved the queen which would have left my knight to the same fate as Andre's. But why hang a knight when I can let my opponent offer his in exchange for my king?
There went my 12 rating points from the last two weeks! But now I can look forward to 6 games of slow chess in Parsippany. If you're at the USATE look for me. I'm board two on "Rook Around the Clock Tonight".