In round two I'm Black against a 10 year old kid with a 1400 rating. Like I didn't play enough kids on Friday night at the WCA quads. (No I didn't lose to King Kong. He was playing baseball that evening.) The game starts out 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3. There was no way in hell I was accepting the Smith Morra Gambit, especially against some probably under rated kid. I opted for 3...Nf6 figuring on it transposing to a c3 Sicilian. As much as I don't like the c3 Sicilian it sure beats dealing with the Smith Morra. After his 17th move of Nxb5 which completed the queen trade we reach the following position.
He starts thinking about his move, and then offers me another draw before making a move. I immediately shake my head, and he goes back to thinking. I think he was totally rattled at this point, and it was just a matter of time before the wheels were going to fall off the c3 Sicilian Express.
23.Be3 Nd5! This forces him to remove the knight from the d6 outpost if he doesnt want to lose the pawn after Bxd6. 24. Nxc8? Rbxc8 He would have been better off retreating the Knight to e4 then solving all my problems by taking my undeveloped Bishop. The momentum clearly shifted. The game continues, 25. Bc5 Bxc5 26. bxc5 Nce7 27. Rc1 Rc7 28. Bd3 Rdc8 29.Rb1 Nc3 30. Rb3 Ned5 31. Bc4 b5 32. Bd3 Rxc5 33. Rc1 Ne2+ 34. Bxe2 Rxc1+ 35.Bf1 Rd1 36. g3 Rcc1 37. Nd2 Rxd2 38. Kg2 Rc3 39. Rb1 Ne3+ 40. Kg1 Nxf1 41. Kxf1Rxa3 42. Ke1 Raa2 43. Rc1 Re2+ 44. Kf1 Rxf2+ 45. Ke1 Rxh2 46. Rc8+ Kh7 47. Kf1Rh1# 0-1
Afterwards I had a long talk with the kid, and gave him the same advice I've given Dario and Ethan. I told him if he wanted to get better that he needed to keep attacking and not be content to take an early draw against a much higher rated opponent. I explained that by offering a draw in a clearly better position that one is telling the opponent that he lacks confidence in himself. He shouldn't be intimidated by the opponent's higher rating. I said "Did you see that kid who kept coming over to look at our game? That's Kevin. (King Kong) At the age of nine with an 1100 rating he beat me. He was not afraid of me or my rating. I've lost to him about nine times now and he's higher rated then me."
Kevin's mom overheard my conversation with the kid and told me that she thought Kevin's dad had done the right thing by telling him when he was younger that he was not allowed to offer or accept a draw . He wanted Kevin to play every game out to the end. As rigid as that may seem, I think his dad had the right idea. His parents are highly accomplished professional bridge players so they know what it takes to be competitive. Learning early on to play to win made him stronger. The emphasis was on fighting to the end regardless of the outcome, and not to worry about rating points.
After losing a tough king and 6 pawns vs king and 6 pawns ending in round three I got paired down against another kid. This time I'm playing black against an 11 year old girl who's been playing since she was in kindergarten. She is the complete opposite to what I was at her age. There is no way I would have been caught dead carrying a pink tote bag or having pink butterfly stickers with my name on them to identify something belonging to me. I would have been carrying a olive green army knapsack and labeling my stuff with my dad's label maker. I was a major tomboy. My opponent Julie on the other hand is 100% girl.
Julie attends an all girls school in Manhattan that has a big chess program. The school has hosted three all girls tournaments that have drawn over 70 girls each time. Who says girls don't like to play chess? I'm sure a number of the girls at those tournaments aren't quite ready to brave the rugged competition of an open tournament at the Marshall with lots of adults and (ewwww gross!) boys. Julie is not one of those girls. She's an active tournament player who plays in any type of event, open or scholastic.
With her cute and feminine outfits and her pink tote bag with crowns on it she's quite the contrast to the guys in their drab tee-shirts or ill fitting suits. Feminine charm aside, beware of the girl with butterfly stickers on the buttons of her Chronos. She doesn't play quiet and prissy chess. Any thoughts of my having a quiet positional game this round were quickly squashed when the game started 1. e4 c5, 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. f4! Here we go again. Another kid who likes to play aggressive stuff against the Sicilian Defense.
Julie has all the makings of being a great poker player. Nothing she does at the board gives away what she thinks about the position. There are no fancy wrist flicks, slamming pieces, constant adjusting pieces, or slapping the clock that is so typical of a many kids her age. Unlike me she isn't constantly changing positions in her seat or getting up from the table. She may have left the table once to use the bathroom. She certainly wasn't intimidated by the 400 point rating difference, and she wasn't going to offer me a draw if her attack fizzled.
She would occasionally look my direction if I suddenly changed position in my seat. I try not to be annoying or distracting when I start kneeling on my chair or standing up to look at the position. I'm not sure looking at the board at these different angles really helps me see more of the position, but there are times I can't sit still even on my own move. My body language may or may not have anything to do with what is occuring on the board. The body movement may simply be a release of the twitchiness of my thoughts. "cxb, axb, Nc2, Kg7, ...I wonder which train I'm going to make...what happens if she plays Qh4?...can I play h6 and g5?...How is Kevin doing in his game?" (Stand up and look at the position from behind my chair) "g5 is too dangerous. Her queen doesn't do much on h4. Can I take the b pawn for free?" (Sit down, lean on my elbows and look at the clock and go back to my analysis.
Here is the game.
She played solid and aggressive chess. I probably played a little too passively and let her have more then I should have. The difference was when her attack petered out she just traded queens and went for an ending, up a pawn. No draws for her.