Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I Learned My Lesson, RE:Jet Lag

Last summer I had returned from Susan Polgar's Budapest Chess and Culture tour on a Sunday and attempted to play chess on Monday. It was not a pretty picture as I went 0-3. The last round game came to an abrupt and ugly conclusion. It was the battle of the zeros between Silvio and I. We had reached this position after 30 moves.

Silvio played 31. e5? Black to move and lose. 31...Re8?? (31...Qxe5+ gives black a second pawn with check and a very strong position.) 32. Bd5+ Kh8 33. Qxg3 1-0. Unlike the two earlier games in that tournament I had no clock issues. I had almost 10 minutes left when I played Re8. Silvio's comment after the game was priceless. He said "We're the Two Dwarfs. Sleepy and Dopey." I couldn't have said it better.

Having learned from last year's fiasco I resisted the urge to go to Marshall over the weekend and instead waited three days before attempting any serious chess after a long trip involving many time zones. I thought after a few weeks with no tournaments at the club that we'd get a decent turnout. No such luck. We ended out with a single quad of the regulars Silvio, Ben and myself, and a rare appearance on a Monday night of King Kong.

I wasn't playing horrible chess, but my play was sluggish and in the first round I got into absurd time pressure against Silvio. At the point that we stopped keeping track of the moves he had around four and half minutes and I had four seconds. At one point he could have repeated the position which I was perfectly willing to accept, but he chose not to. I guess he figured the time advantage would be enough. Given my history with him with little time left on the clock, he should have known better.

Even though the forcing the queen trade allows him to double my extra pawns I thought it was my best shot at winning. We reached this position.

pw-sr ending 071408.pgn

Click plus sign to view position.

I messed up big time with the pawn push on f5. Kevin was quick to point out at the end that a4 holds for black. I should play a4 first, then I have the tempo I need to force him away from the queening square. Fortunately me for me my opponent missed a4 also. With 3 seconds left on my clock I got the mate.

That game had taken a lot out of me both mentally and physically. My stomach was twisted in knots my breathing was similar to what happens when I'm having a panic attack. The physical sensations were similar to those I experienced the night of my "adult's worst nightmare" tournament. I'm not sure why I was having such physical reactions. I've had plenty of games that have finished with wild time scrambles before. It wasn't like I was going to go 0-3 in this tournament against a bunch of kids. I'd already won a game, and next up was a kid who I have 5 wins and a draw against. If Kevin is my King Kong, I may be Ben's Godzilla. Somehow I keep finding ways to win against him in positions he should at least have drawn if not won.

Last night's game was no different then our previous encounters. It usually starts with him falling way behind on the clock, and then me catching up later on. This was probably his best game against me, and I thought that this was going to be the time that he finally got this monkey off his back. It didn't help that at one point I had forgotten to press my clock. We had been rattling off a series of moves, and suddenly he goes into a deep think. I'm staring at the board trying to figure out what he's thinking about, then I glance at the clock and notice my time is running. Did he make a move, and I didn't notice? Nope. I simply had forgotten to press the clock. He was trying to catch a breather on my time.

At the point that we stopped keeping score the position looked like this.

It seemed as though I was in a lot of trouble, being down a pawn and his having connected passed pawns on the queen side. Also he had around two minutes versus my 50 seconds. Somehow in the midst of the ensuing time scramble we reached this position, allowing me to win his bishop.

I did give the knight back several moves later to eliminate one of his pawns and then converted my king side majority for the win with 18 seconds to spare.

So after two crazy time pressure packed wins it came down to Polly VS King Kong XIV for all the marbles. The walloping $35 prize fund.

Special thanks and credit goes to Liquid Egg Product for his fine artwork above. I had the idea, and he had the necessary skills to put it together for me. Thanks Donnie!

One one post I made about previous encounters with King Kong one person made the following comment: "Polly, unless there's a pattern to the chess in your games against King Kong, don't worry about "How to beat him?" Just play chess. Also, against youths, I've personally found that the more boring the game the more likely they are to lose interest and transition into bad (often positionally lost) situations.So, just play boring chess! Signed,Just another 1700 player".

After two hair raising close calls I was ready for some quiet and boring chess. But the above poster's stratagy doesn't work with kids who have increased their rating over 200 points in a year's period. To make that type of steady improvement they don't do it on tactics alone. They also have learned to play solid positional chess. There are no spectacular fireworks in this game. It's just solid play with a more active knight versus a jet lagged bishop.


Click plus sign to view game.

Chalk up another one for King Kong.


transformation said...

you were already truly known. but now the photo of you standing next to not only Polgar, but the wizard of endgame composition himself: Benko! and at chessBase no less! how can WE not know that IT is NOT you?? :) dk

Polly said...

DK: That was a really well organized trip with a small group. We got to see some wonderful sites around Budapest and got excellent training with Susan and Pal. If she ever organizes a similar trip it's well worth the time and money.

es_trick said...

In terms of jet lag, I always found that traveling west across the Pacific Ocean was easier than a return trip traveling back to the US.

It never took more than a day or two to readjust my biological clock when going to Korea, but usually took several days, and many nights of tossing and turning after arriving Stateside.

RT Solo said...

I loved looking at your jet lag games...definitely a "note to self" moment for me about fatigued play. I'll try to learn from your experience instead of having to try it myself. Re8, LOL...it would be funnier if it wasn't a move I'm likely to make even while at the top of my game! ;-)

Polly said...

es: They say that for every hour of time difference it takes a day to recover. Though I'm finding this trip a little easier to recover from then coming back from NZ a few years ago in February. Battling jet lag in winter sucks. At least I have the sun to help me out this time around.

rt: Re8 looked very logical at the time. My thought process was "Oh let me block the passed pawn." Though it would have been a lot better to simply take the passed pawn with Qxe5. Sometimes the obvious isn't so obvious, especially late at night.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing. That KK pic was actually one of the least favorite of the ones I sent.

But this is a strength of the human race: we have different tastes and ways of seeing things :D

Polly said...

LEP: I think I liked this one because KK is on top of the WTC. The others will get used in future posts.

Anonymous said...

Polly, Your game against King Kong wasn't so bad. In fact in the end if you played 33.Rb2, and the game followed that variation, you have very good chances to draw!

Polly said...

Anon: I felt it was one of my better games against him. Unfortunately my friend the clock reared it's ugly head so my ability to find moves like Rb2 becomes impaired. We could call that PWTPI. "Playing while time pressure impaired." I'm in trouble the day my USCF membership is suspended for too many PWTPI violations.