Monday, February 11, 2008

Woo Hoo! I Got Plus Score at Friday Action!!! **

** King Kong and Mike weren't there.

Okay so I didn't have my usual issues of having to get past my inability to get King Kong off my back. I also didn't have face playing Mike again after the January's candidate for my Wacky Wednesday post. I was number two in this month's quad. Even so it didn't mean I'd cruise through the tournament. I still had to face three strong kids who each have at least one win against me.

My first round opponent, Josh always plays me tough though I actually have a good record against him. 7 wins, 5 draws and only 1 loss. The last few times we've played we've drawn, and each time I was relieved to get the draw. Sometimes he'd win a pawn early and then I'd fight my way back to the point that a draw was pleasing result.

When I first started playing Josh he was in second grade. He was down right scary to play. He would attack wildly and get way ahead on the clock. I remember the first time I played him he had me totally beat over the board and on the clock. However like many kids I've faced, he fell into the trap of trying to out blitz me when I had 10 seconds on the clock. Then he started hanging pieces.

He's matured greatly in two years and has become a much more positional player. He gets solid positions and as long as he manages his time well he does fine. However there are times he still plays way too fast when it's not necessary. We reached this position after 29. Qd2.

I was not particularly happy with this position. I had blown a pawn on the 24th move after letting him pick up a crucial tempo with 23...Ne6. Even though the extra pawn is doubled I saw lots of problems for me after 29...Rxd6, 30. exd6 Qd7. Sooner or later b5 is coming, he'll be able able to trade off the c7 pawn and I may have difficulties holding onto my d6 pawn. He's ahead on the clock, but at this point I about 10 minutes and he has about 18 minutes. I'm not overly concerned about the time difference.

Here's where playing too fast catches up with him. After I played 29. Qd2 he replied 29...Kf8. It's a natural looking move, but is a mistake because I have 30. f5. The funny thing was when I played it I didn't see that the rook on d8 is hanging after he moves the knight away. I had mainly played it so that after the eventual Rxd6, exd6 I can work my bishop over to f4 to help defend d6. I was very surprised when he played 30...Rxd6 since after 31. exd6 I'm attacking both his queen and knight. Duh!

The game continued 31..Qd7 32. fxe6 Qd7 33. d7 Qe4+ 34. Kg1 Qb1+ 35. Bc1. He's out of checks unless he wants to sac his queen for one more. He resigns.

Round two was a messy game that I won. This set up the showdown between number one and two in the quad for round three. I was 2-0, and Harry was 1.5 - .5. I simply need a draw to win the quad, but I know Harry is not going to settle for a draw. Harry has beaten me with white the last two times we've played. Once again I lost the toss, and ended out with black.

I made the same mistake in the opening in both of those previous losses against him. I wasn't going to play that same move again if we went into that same line again. He surprised me as he went into the same line against my Accelerated Dragon that King Kong and Mike went into during the last two Friday Action tournaments. After I played 7...Qa5 he said "This looks familiar." I resisted the urge to say "This is the same line that I screwed up against Kevin and Mike in consecutive tournaments, but now I know what I'm doing." At least I thought I knew what I was doing until move 12 when I played the very natural and safe looking move of O-O.

Sigh. A chance to win a little money and pick up a decent number of rating points bites the dust. It's about a 15 minute drive from the tournament site back to my house. As I'm driving down I-95 I'm thinking to myself, "Geez, what a f-ing moron you are. You won a pawn, and then you play a stupid ass move and lose a piece. Can't you manage to not screw up when you have a chance to win money and gain rating points? You are such a loser!" I continued to berate myself for a few more minutes then it hit me. "Hello! You should have lost the first game. The only reason you didn't was because he played a move too fast. You were toast, but you got a break. So rounds one and three were a wash. You won a game that you probably should have lost. You lost a game that maybe you can win or draw. Quit your bitching."

By the time I got home, I had calmed down. It wasn't really such a bad night. I beat the two lower rated players, and I lost to the higher rated player. That's not a terrible result. I actually picked up 9 rating points. Sometimes I have to internally vent to work out my feelings. Then I can stand back and look at things more rationally. What would have happened if I lost the first game? Would that have put me in such a funk that I would have been off my game for the remaining rounds and gotten blown out with three losses? Who knows? Fortunately I did not have to answer that question. It actually felt damn good to get a plus score against the kids. That hasn't been happening lately.


tanc(happyhippo) said...

Hi Polly,

Great to hear of your progress and of how you cope well with the setback.

All in all, you did alright and deserve a pat on the back! :)

gorckat said...

Chess players psychology is fascinating. We (generally speaking) never want to admit to getting a break, but will berate ourselves like a masochist when we give one.

transformation said...

nice post Polly. yes, this dude is strong. nice going. dk

Polly said...

Hippo: As the Tae Kwon Do masters have us say after we do something hard. "I did a good job, sir!"

Gorck: I think I would have been a good psychologist, but too much reading and studying to get a Phd. LOL I am a competitor, and love looking at the psychological aspect of competition. Observing all aspects of one's competition is very important. This post old post from my triathlon blog shows how I use this in other competition.

dk: These kids are strong players. My first round opponent is 9 years old. Sometimes it's easy to forget that when totally absorbed in a tough battle over the board.