Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How To Feel Bad After A Win

A few weeks ago I showed my round three loss from the Westchester Chess Club Championship. In the post I made the following comment: "How much worse could it get? After this game I don't want to know!" It could have gotten a lot worse except that in rounds four and five my opponents picked the most inopportune moments to go into a deep think. You've heard the expression "sometimes it's better to be lucky then good." That's how I feel going into tonight's round six. At the same time I kind of feel bad for my opponents. Neither of them deserved to lose based on their play over the board.

Below is the final position of my round 4 game against a young kid. He's rated around 1400. He plays nice solid chess, but has time management issues. I've seen him time and time again spend 3 to 4 minutes on opening moves. I keep telling his dad that he needs to work on his various openings, and be able to rattle off those early moves quickly. Even in action games (game/30) I've seen him spend 5 minutes on the 4th move.

In the above position it's White's move. I had offered him a draw several moves earlier. At the time he had 15 seconds and I had 5 seconds. (I'm one to talk about time management. Though I tend to burn my time later in games.) He declined the draw which didn't surprise me since he was slightly better. In this position I had just played Ke6. I had 3 seconds left. He had around 8 to 10 seconds. At this point he goes into a deep think. After 46. a5 bxa5 47. bxa5 Kf6 48. Bb7 he'll have excellent chances since my knight will be tied down to the a6 pawn. However he never gets any of these moves in because he runs out of time. When I called the time he was genuinely surprised that he lost on time. He seemed to totally forget that his time edge was not all that big. I dodged a bullet there with that win. I did feel bad for him since he had outplayed me most of the game and could have simply accepted the draw a few moves earlier.

Winning that game hardly put me into contention for anything, but at least it still gave me a chance to get a plus score if I could win rounds five and six. That is easier said then done. My fifth round opponent is one of the old timers whose been a member of the club for over 20 years. Fred is probably in his mid 70s and is rated 1228, but he plays much better then that rating would indicate. He doesn't play in many tournaments any more, but he always plays tough. We've played a few times over the years, and I've never lost to him. We last played in the 2006 club championship. It took me 48 moves to put him away in that event. I don't remember the specifics of our games from the late 80s, but I recall it was never an easy win. This game was no different. Actually it was different, because I was totally lost. In a rook and pawn ending I was down three pawns and way behind on the clock. I'm not sure why I was even playing on. I guess it was a combination his indecisive play in the end game, and my really not wanting to lose and go into the last round with a pathetic 1.5 - 3.5 score. As the old expression goes "One never wins a chess game by resigning." I was going to let the clock decide.

I did get one of the pawns back and after 59... Ra3+, 61. Kf4 we reach this position. I had 5 seconds left. At move 56 he had almost 2 minutes to my 8 seconds. He burned over a minute and half from there to to move 60. He never got to play move 61 because he spent his remaining 30 seconds on it. In this position he can play 61...g5+. I can't take because after 62. Rxg5 Ra4+ 63. Kf5 Ra5+ 64. Kf4 Rxg5. Good bye rook!

I truly felt bad when I called the time. I felt even worse when afterwards he said he had never beaten me, he thought he was finally going to win, and that this was his best game ever against me. I know he wasn't saying those things to make me feel bad. He was just sorry that he let the opportunity get away. I did feel bad though. I almost felt guilty that I had not resigned when I was down the three pawns. Is this a normal feeling? I felt bad the week before for the kid, but I know sooner or later the kid will probably get me. The good ones always do. Winning this game made me feel worse. Maybe that's why I can't seem to break through. I'm too kind hearted and lack the merciless killer instinct.

I've got to put those thoughts behind me tonight as play another one of the old timers. However tonight's opponent has beaten me before, so I won't feel gulity if I pull another rabbit out of my hat.


likesforests said...

Hi Polly, very interesting. What time controls were you playing at that so many players were timing out in equal or winning positions? I just ordered a DGT delay clock, to hopefully avoid that nightmare of having a won game but not enough time to convert it. I thought I would be immune from the 'Oops, out of time!' phenomenon with only a few games of practice but now I am not so sure after even your very experienced acquaintance goofed!

Polly said...

The time control was G/75 with a 5 second delay. It's easy to get absorbed in the nuances of a position like that. However with sudden death time controls one just has to go on pure instinct and just move. The position is not an easy win as long as I have have the rook, but I think it's a matter of just pushing the pawns and forcing white to sac the rook.

If he pushes g5+ I'm not sure whether I would have seen that I can't take the pawn. When I was analyzing the position with Fritz I initially asked myself why I couldn't take the pawn. Then as I looked closer I realized he had the rook check driving my king either away from the rook or in front of the rook setting up the skewer. Seeing that took longer then 10 seconds. (5 second delay and 5 seconds remaining) It's possible I would have flagged or blundered the rook.

Even though Fred has played for years, he's very old school. Many of those years were playing long time controls. Also he uses an analog clock unless his opponent has a digital. It doesn't matter how many years someone plays, if they don't play a lot of faster chess and aren't used to the delay they'll have trouble with positions like that.

I was more surprised by Ben losing on time because I've watched him in far more complicated positions out blitz the opponent and mate with 1 second remaining. I think he just lost track of the time since he had been ahead for a good portion of the game.

Anonymous said...

Aw. Very touching!

But there are plenty of times where, the shoe's been on the other foot, yes? Take the gift; you've given them enough.

Polly said...

LEP: You're right about that. The remainder of the week was a bad case of "Instant Karma Gonna Get Ya".