Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rhode Trip: Winning the Battle. Losing the War.

Having lost round three I was even more aggravated by the Under 1900 prize structure. No one under 1900 had more then 1 point, so I was certainly still in contention. Hard to believe that with .5 I would be playing a money game if they reversed themselves on the prize fund. If there were an even number I would play the new kid. I’m not so arrogant to say that it would have been a piece of cake. As soon as I act like that I’m bound to have something bad happen like hanging my queen or losing on time. I try not to take anything or anyone for granted. However I probably would have contributed to his chess education like his previous three opponents.

I did find an ally in my beef with the prize structure. During one of my third round opponent’s deep thinks I was wandering around near the wall charts. Howard Goldowsky was standing there looking at the sign with the prizes. Howard was one of the under 1900s who had also entered the Open Section. I asked him what he thought of this prize structure. He didn't like it either. He probably had a bigger beef then me since he already had gotten paired way down and had one point. He had come to play up against higher rated players. Like me, he was disappointed that the sections got combined.

When the round was over the two of us made our case to the tournament director and organizer. Now it wasn't just about me. I was able to speak for both us, and even for the third under 1900 “Open” player who was not around at the time. I’m afraid when I first spoke to them I didn't exactly choose my words well. I’m afraid I may have come across as condescending or arrogant. What I first said came out totally wrong. I won’t repeat that part. It was not meant as a slight to anyone, I just was just trying to make my point regarding what I wanted out of the weekend. The gist of my comments were something to the effect of “I came to play strong competition knowing that I’d possibly lose most of my games, and possibly get a bye. I wasn't there for the money. I understand why they merged the sections. I don’t have a problem with it. Now I’m may going get paired way down, and you’re telling me I can’t win money even if I win that game. Howard has already been paired way down, he can’t win money either with this set up. It’s just not fair.”

The organizer and tournament director said they would consider our complaint and let us know what they would do. At that point there was nothing else that we could say or do.

Howard and I got talking to Jeffrey Hall and then the three of us decided to have lunch. I spoken to Jeffrey earlier when he had asked my about the settings on my Chronos. He had noticed that when the 40th move was reached that the clock automatically added the time for the second time control. He was curious about the setting since he just sets two controls with no move counter. I like the automatic reset at the end of the control. That way it’s clear if someone flags before 40 moves. Also it’s clear how much time is left in the sudden death control. It does have its flaws. If someone forgets to press the clock or presses it accidentally then the move counter is off and the clock will go to the next time control either too early or too late. Also I haven't figured out how to have the delay count down 5,4,3,2,1 visibly. Instead a cursor blinks for the 5 seconds. That normally doesn't bother me, but with 15 second delay I got myself confused during round 4.

Doing lunch in between rounds with Jeffrey and Howard.

It turns out Jeffrey was the third under 1900 who had signed up for the Open. He had taken a bye in round one so he was very surprised when he had to play Grandmaster Erenburg in round two. Some 1900 had clipped Erenburg for a draw in round one. It was an ugly get crushed in less then 20 moves type game. In round three he played a 1966 player, so he was getting the strong opponents he was looking to play. Little did we know as we sat across from each other sharing a pleasant meal, that in a little while we'd be sitting across from each again with a chess board in between.

It was interesting meeting and spending time with Howard Goldowsky. Though he doesn't have his own blog, his presence in the chess blogosphere is felt. He frequently comments on various chess blogs. His comments are almost aways very lengthy and are very well written. My mental picture of him was an older geek type. I got the geek part right. He does some sort engineering involving satellites, but he's younger then I imagined. He said the only reason he doesn't have his own blog is that he'd never get any work done. He reads blogs when he needs a break and makes comments. Then suddenly he realizes he's killed an hour just writing comments.

After lunch it was back to the business at hand. Let's play some chess. They posted a new prize list with no restrictions on which players under 1900 could win them. Now we B players with our sad scores of .5 to 1 point were all in the running for money. My third round opponent had the tough task facing a 2100. That's what he gets for beating me in round three. (Wicked Evil Grin) It was sort of ironic that he was one of the players who had entered the Under 1900 probably with the hope of scoring points and money, yet got paired up against three players rated well over 1900. I had been his only opponent rated lower then him.

Howard got paired against another 1700, and Jeffrey and I were paired against each other. Before I finish reporting on the goings on at the bottom of the wall chart let me give you the news concerning the top. There was a three way tie for first with GM Keith Arkell, GM Timur Geerav and IM Justin Sarkar all scoring 3.5 points. Geerav and Sarkar took a draw in round 4 while Arkell had to beat Master Luis Belliard. Geerav and Sarkar had the best tie breaks so they played a blitz game to determine the winner of the $50 bonus. Geerav won the blitz game.

There were some disagreements on the tie break system and whether it was clearly stated anywhere. That was one argument I was going to stay out of. I figured I'd done enough bitching and moaning for the weekend. I'd let someone else take up that fight if they wanted to.

Grandmaster Keith Arkell 3.5 - 0.5

IM Justin Sarkar and GM Timur Geerav
Blitz playoff for 1st place bonus won by Geerav.

Meanwhile in the back of the room on the bottom boards.......

As stated in a previous post, I technically would have been in line for the bye despite having a half point more then the unrated due to rule 28L5. But the bye would have given me at least 3rd place by default, and possibly clear second. I guess if I had gotten the bye at that point it wouldn't have been so terrible. Last round bye, and guaranteed money. What more could I want? I could have said "Thanks! Mail me my check I'm going back to the beach in Connecticut." However really what I wanted was to win the last round and earn money the old fashioned way

Sometimes things don't work as planned. It was kind of ironic that I got paired against the guy who was asking me about my clock settings. Now he had the opportunity to see the settings in action. Unfortunately he didn't get to see the automatic add on for the second control because I had a brain fart on move 28. It's colossal brain fart when one forgets how her own clock works.

I'm seeing seconds tick away and I'm thinking those seconds are part of the delay. Noooo, those seconds were real time, so I was a little shocked when the clocked beeped and starting flashing. Brain fart or no brain fart it wasn't going to make a difference. 15 seconds to make 12 moves in the position was going to be challenging. Even if I survived the clock I'm going to start hemorrhaging pawns. Look at the final position and you be the judge. Perhaps the clock was resigning on my behalf.


So after everything was said and done the picture of the bottom portion of the wall chart summarizes what happened with the under 1900 group.

My fellow Open Section under 1900s got in the money. All the players originally entered in the under 1900 made a little something. And as for me, well....

I got another story for my blog. Next time Howard and Jeffrey can buy me lunch. Ruth Cris Steak House at the 2009 USATE in Parsippany?

Now I can check off Rhode Island as my 21st state I've played in. I've completed my knight's tour of the New England states. It's only taken me 36 years. Though I'm afraid I need to return there, because I haven't won a game in Rhode Island yet. I have at least one win in the other 20 states.


Anonymous said...

I don't see why you want to play up.
Can't you see that you need to be able to beat lower rated players before trying harder opponents?

If not for your floor, your actual rating would probably be around 1500. So you are actually playing up by playing 1600 players.

Chess Monkey

Anonymous said...

In this game your pieces almost never stood on squares where they were active. Also neither did you challenge black for the centre.

I think these were the two problems you had in this game together with not having a plan like you mentioned in your analyse.

Polly said...

Chess Monkey: If you weren't right about my rating I'd be totally pissed off with your brutal honesty. The programmer who does the USCF rating system has told me what my rating would be without a floor. Just around 1550. Rather sad for a player who had peeked at 1945 back in the late 80s.

I'm not playing at a 1700 level right now. I have moments of good play where I feel like my game is coming back, and then other times where I feel like it's hopeless. I know I need to spend more time on tactics and finding lines to play against the openings that annoy me.

I don't always play up. It depends on the make up of the tournament. There are some tournaments such as the 4 Rated Games Tonight event at the Marshall where I'm naturally paired up because it's one section with a strong field.

After The US Open where I had extreme (way up, way down) pairings for a number of rounds, and then a string of lower rated players, I was in the mood to play higher rated opponents.

I can't pin point why all those 1300 and 1400 players were beating me in Dallas. I usually score much better, but perhaps all the travel, and staying up late took a toll on me. Many of those losses were interesting games. Some of them were more interesting then my wins.

Despite the fact that in reality my rating would be below 1600 I don't consider playing a 1600 as playing up. I got some useful input from my opponents after each game. I'm going to learn more from the analysis I do with a 2100 rated opponent then a 1600 opponent. another B player is just as likely to miss the same stuff I was missing.

Chess Tiger: I think I was playing too much for the queenside instead of the center. Sometimes I feel like I'm being aggressive with my pawn pushes, but in reality I'm creating targets for the opponent, and then I have to play defensively to cover my weaknesses.

Welcome to my zoo! I have a monkey and a tiger. Is there an elephant in the room? :-)

Rolling Pawns said...

Your play just looks a little bit passive in that game, that's all.
Maybe you should spend sometime playing online, some risky stuff with 8-10 minutes time control, just to get some edge and feel the time better. It will also refresh your tactics vision.

Polly said...

Rolling: I'm not wild about online play. My blitz rating sucks so it's hard to get good games. I may just have to reset my rating and start over again. Many people seem to think playing online is good for their game. I may have to give it another whirl and play with an increment. Thanks for stopping in.

KnightFork said...

Hello Polly! Thanks for posting on my new blog! I've been spending all my time today checking out other people's blogs and no time on my endgame study that I had set up! It sounds like you had a good time at the tournament, despite the pairings problem. I read some of your blog and I like it a lot! I am gonna add you to my blog listing. Take care for now!

Anonymous said...

Just got back from I'm looking forward to reading the post ASAP -- maybe at lunch time!


Anonymous said...

Lunch has come early! Polly, I would love to buy you and Jeff lunch at he 2009 USATE, because that would mean I've finally had the chance to make it to that tournament. In (let's see) 21 years of playing tournament chess, I've never played in a USATE. Now that's a streak that's got to be stopped.

Winning the $200 U1900 prize fell into my lap in the most serendipitous of ways. Like you implied, I had no intention of winning a prize, as I had entered the Open section to play four games against experts and masters. I wound up getting two games against higher rated players (2215 and 2100 -- which I lost -- maybe I'll annotate one for your blog or the BCC blog), and my other two games I managed to win. Luck would have it that an even score won the U1900 section. $200 is the most I've ever won at a chess tournament; and I feel like I didn't play my best chess to deserve it -- in general, I would much rather beat experts and masters and play inspiring chess than win money.

Polly, your series of posts describing the tournament are entertaining and fun to read (although the punctuation Nazi in me found a few spots that needed repair). It will be interesting and fun to follow Dean as he progresses. His winning the book and $75 should motivate him to continue. The time he got with stronger players is invaluable.

This brings me to Chess Monkey's comment. About two months ago I began taking lessons with Dan Heisman. One of Heisman's "four homeworks" is to play strong opponents in serious, slow games. Unless you play strong players, your mistakes will never get punished. Unless you review the games against these strong players, your mistakes will never get noticed. Playing "up" is always best, unless the cost is prohibitive to ones financial situation. It's pointless to play "up" at the World Open, when one can face strong opponents for a fraction of the cost elsewhere. (I've been blasted for a similar opinion at Liz Vicary's blog.) In fact, the $75 entry fee to the Blackstone Open was high enough for me to think twice about entering the Open section. But Heisman nudged me to play in that section, arguing that the entry fee was the same price as an hour of his service, and that I'd probably learn more from playing four experts (or masters) and going over the games, than I would from an hour sitting with him. So, there's an upper limit on what I'll pay to play "up," but anything below $75 is now a no-brainer. The goal is improvement.

I wish I had time for my own blog, but, alas, being a geek at work and feeding and raising a family takes priority (this is another topic for which I was misunderstood over at Vicary's blog). Anyway, when I get free moments I take copious notes and write my chess improvement thoughts down in my private notebook, and hope to write a memoir some day...

Howard Goldowsky

Polly said...

Howard: Welcome back to the grind! The USATE is a totally awesome tournament. If you go back into my archives for February you can read my my account of the tournament. You can some really interesting match ups in that event, and the social aspect is great.

I worked for Bill Goichberg back in 1977 and 1978. He also gave me some lessons. Since I got free entry into his tournaments we would have me play up. I played in the Open Section at the World Open, but being only 1400 at the time I would have been better off playing in the Under 2200 section. When you're that much lower rated you tend to get weaker opponents lateer when you score sucks. Whereas in an under 2200 section you tend to still get higher opponents at the end.

People seem to be under the mistaken impression that playing in the highest section is going to get them the strongest opponents. When you're at the bottom of the wall chart you may only get a 2100 who just makes the break. After that the ratings drop quickly.

What appealed to me about the Blackstone tournament was that there would be no one under 1600 so I wouldn't get all the C & D players who think it's good to play up that high.

I'm glad you enjoyed the read. Sorry about the punctuation. I always have problems with too many commas or commas in the wrong place. ;:,

denopac said...

Re: the move counter... I never use it. It's too easy for it to get screwed up. Once I was playing and the guy next to me kept on hitting my clock (and he was an IM!). If the counter had been in effect that would have been a nightmare.

Polly said...

denopac: I had problems with it in one of my US Open rounds when my opponent thought he had forgotten to press his clock so he pressed it, but it actually was his move. He had been away from the table when I moved. Fortunately it didn't make a difference in that game. But it would have in my round 4 game last weekend.

I just spent about a 1/2 hour screwing around with the manual and playing with some of the settings. Now I gotta dig out my other clock and make the same changes.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Heisman. One of the best ways to improve is to play sronger opponents. But if you constatly lose to players rated much lower than you, you are obviously not ready to play higher rated players.

Once you can easily beat players rated below and around your rating its time to play higher rated players.

I think Polly does not care too much about getting better. She just likes playing and there is nothing wrong with that. If she really wanted to get better she would play far less and study far more.

Chess Monkey -

P.S. I got my USCF rating close to 2400 before I quit cold turkey.

Polly said...

Chess Monkey: I don't consistantly lose to players lower rated then me. Actually my winning percentage since 1991 against players rated 100 points or lower then me is .612. The winning percentage goes all to hell against players rated +/- 100 points within me. It drops to .343. The problem seems to lie with how I do against my peers. (Those within 100 points of me either way.)

I'm too embarrassed to say what my winning % is against opponents who out rate me by more then 100 points. Needless to say I don't qualify much for upset prizes.

I guess I play up in some tournaments to avoid playing total patzers, and kids who are grossly under rated. Even though I lose more against higher rated players, I find the games are often more interesting. These days I play more for the sake of playing and not worrying so much about results. Maybe once I hit 4000 total games later this year I'll be ready to slow down, and take some time to study again.

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog, I actually played against you in September 1973 at the University of Massachusetts Fall Open, I remembered that your last name was Peterson, I don't recall too much about the game, back then I used to play 1. b3 as white, there were not too many women chessplayers in 1973 so it was kind of a novelty to play you.

Dave Martin

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog, I actually played against you in September 1973 at the University of Massachusetts Fall Open, I do not remember too much about the game but I was white and I played 1. b3,
I think your last name was Peterson there were not too many women chessplayers back in 1973 it is great to see that you are still playing after all these years.

Dave Martin

Anonymous said...

Do you know Asa Hoffmann?