It's been awhile since I've had to think about King Kong as an opponent. The last few times I've played in the WCA Friday Action he has not been there. Not that it's mattered, my combined score in those past two events is 0 wins 5 losses and 1 draw. It's ceased bothering me since the rating range from top to bottom is less then 100 points. I'm usually number two or three in the top quad. So instead of having Harry as number one in the section it was back to Kevin holding that spot. One of these days I'm going get bounced out of that top quad when all the kids rated over 1700 show up on the same night.
In the first round I played Kapil again. Once again I was black and had to deal with his Maroczy Bind. I didn't like the position I got earlier in the month, so I tried a different line. As the cleaned up expression goes, different day, same old stuff. Instead of getting a crushing attack, he won two pawns and then just ground it out. In the meantime King Kong was up a pawn against Josh, but as he put it "I got too fancy." and walked into a nasty pin. The next time I looked Josh had promoted and mated with a queen and rook.
King Kong may have been suffering from what I refer to as "Saratoga Syndrome". That's what I call what happened to me after I won the tournament in Saratoga Springs. I was afraid of playing and losing rating points. When I played, I was tentative and sure enough I tossed all those hard won points in my next two events. He went 4-0 at the Marshall over the weekend and gained a bunch of points putting him over 1900 for the first time. I know he was concerned about his rating because before the first round had started he was discussing how many points he'd lose if he went 2-1 in the quad. He figured he'd still be around 1900.
I wasn't sure what to expect in our game after he blew the game against Josh. Would he have a melt down or take out all his frustrations with me? At least I had white. In all my games with him when I've been white I've had good positions before imploding. I debated between c4 or d4. I finally opted for d4. He surprised me when he castled queen side, but didn't follow that up with a king side pawn storm. He usually plays more aggressively then he did, and instead of creating a weakness in my castled position he made a pawn push that allowed me to win a pawn.
I've learned with him to not get overly excited about being up a pawn. I've lost too many games against these kids when I'm winning because I've lost focus or just haven't been able to finish it. My game against Kapil earlier the month was a stark reminder of that. I was up two pawns, but let my advantage slip away, and got crushed. I wanted to try to avoid that situation in this game so I went for the queen trade after winning the pawn. Even with the queens off the board I was almost expecting the worst. He had doubled his rooks on the f file with 30...Rdf8, and I was concerned about how I would defend the f2 square. After much analysis and debate I said the hell with trying to hold f2, I was going after his 7th with Re1 followed by Ree7. Given my history with him I knew sitting back and defending would be asking for trouble. I was going to go for my own attack. I figured if nothing else I'd force a pair of rooks off the board if he played Rf7.
He went for his attack on f2 with Nd3. I wasn't afraid of losing the pawn on f2 since I was going to pick up the b7 pawn with check. After his 33rd move he offered me a draw. I was a little surprised by it since he rarely offers draws. He's also not one of those kids who offers a draw when they're about to lose. I wasn't ready for a draw. After I played 35. Nxc6+ he was apologetic about the draw offer. He said that he had not seen the mate coming when he made the offer.
I'd like to say there was a happy ending to this tournament. One would hope that by getting King Kong off my back I'd be totally inspired for my last round game. Nope! For the third tournament in a row I played Josh in the last round, and for the third time I'd lose the toss for color and end out with black. When Josh was in 2nd grade, he played wild attacking chess and moved way too fast. The first time we played he tried to out blitz me in my time trouble and blundered. As he matured he slowed down, but then went into very boring games where he'd trade down to very drawish endings. Often he'd do that even when he had a lead in development. As a 4th grader he's gone back to more aggressive play.
After my big win I was content to play safe chess and try for a draw. I figured an even score in this quad would gain me a few rating points. Trying not to lose is a bad mindset, especially when playing a kid who is looking to gain as many points as possible and get back over 1700 again. I was a little too anxious to trade down. Unfortunately getting the queens off the board did nothing for my position. I ended out not being to castle and gave him all the play. I dropped a pawn, and then a piece. Another potentially good tournament bites the dust. C'est la vie.