Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Winning Ugly!

I had a wonderful weekend at my nephew's wedding out in Long Island. Unlike Elizabeth Vicary, I did not try to combine any chess with my wedding weekend. Contrary to popular belief I did not wear any of my chess clothes to any of the functions. Here I am in one of those rare moments wearing something on the formal side.

Weddings have become a major production these days. Gone are the days where one goes to the ceremony, followed by a simple reception and perhaps an after party at some body's house afterwards. Now there are all sorts of functions tied in with the big day, and one is usually pretty wiped out by the end of the weekend. All I can say is I'm glad I didn't have to pay for all of this. The hotel, hubby's tux, my dresses, shower present, and wedding present was enough. Thank goodness for end of summer sales! I could have played in the World Open instead.

After the weekend I figured I was going to be totally wiped out, and have no grey matter left to play chess. I'm glad I didn't judge how I was going to do at chess based on how my Tae Kwon Do class before hand went. I was a total zombie during class, and was having trouble focusing on what was going on during the warm up. During the part of class where we work on our forms, Master Kim had me do nothing but practice my back stance and knife hand block. Talk about boring! It would be like practicing two moves of an opening over and over again. However it really is more beneficial then that. Muscle memory is an important aspect of the training.

It looked like it was going to be a tough night. Along with the usual suspects Silvio and Ben we had the killer kids, King Kong, Michael and Joshua. Joshua is the kid who has been a royal thorn in my side having beaten me 6 times in a row since April.

In the first round I play Ben. This is a kid with time management issues. He can't seem to get through the first 10 moves without burning over half his time. I've talked to him and his Dad about learning a system against specific openings and getting through those 10 moves without wiping out a significant chunk of time.

Like many kids, he's been trained to write his move first and then make it on the board. The idea being that writing it down first gives the player a chance to reevaluate the move before making it on the board. Also the act of writing first gets the impulsive player to slow down. I think in general that writing first can be a useful tool, but for a kid like Ben I think it hurts him too much. In our games I've watched him write. He doesn't write quickly, so typically it takes him around 5 seconds to write a move down. Multiply that by 12, and there's a minute gone just for writing his own move. Then you add in the time it takes to write the opponent's move and more time is lost.

We had one of our typical games where I have a huge time edge, and then burn the time trying to figure out how to exploit the time advantage. We reached this position with me having about 20 seconds and he has 1 second.

I was looking at 60. Bf8. It's a very interesting move if for no other reason that in 6 seconds he has to determine that he can't take the bishop and find the correct response. If he plays 60...Kxf8 then 61. Kd7 g6 62.e7+ Kg7 63. e8=Q and mate to follow. His best chance is 60...Ne4 61. Bxg7 Nxg3 62. Bxf6 Nxf5. However in 20 seconds I couldn't work it all out, and so with about 6 seconds left I played the wussy king move, 60. Kc6. We both hung pawns and agreed to a draw with me having 3 seconds, and him still having 1 second.

I won round two against Michael. He too was having time issues and flagged in a position where the material was even, but he had more attacking chances. Winning this game put me in the position of playing the winner of Joshua versus King Kong. I guess maybe it was more like Joshua and the wall of Jericho, because Kevin came tumbling down after he overlooked a mate in two that he had.

The big question for me was, could I stop my losing streak against Joshua? I had started out with 8 wins, 5 draws and 1 loss against him before going on this 6 game losing streak that brought him to within 1 game of evening our score against each other. Fortunately I did not let losing the toss for color (again!) dampen my spirits. Winning the game would put an end to the proverbial monkey on my back, and give me first place in the tournament. Was I up to the task?

My recent games with Joshua are not only fought over the board, but also in the mind. He has added the psychological aspect to his repertoire. Sometimes it works in his favor sometimes it doesn't. I was determined not to let my six game losing streak against him get under my skin. I was also trying to ignore the fact that I was black against him, and that lately he's blown me away with attacks on my castled position. Mentally I was prepared for his pawn storm, but he left the door open for me he let me take the center, and he had not castled.

We reached this position after 20 moves. I'm threatening to pin the knight with Rfe8.

I'm feeling really good about my position. I almost felt as though he thought he could get away with leaving his king in the center against me. I was ready to show him that he couldn't take me so lightly and was prepared to punish him for not castling. Sometimes I have this bad habit of thinking about what post mortem "words of wisdom" I'm going to share with the opponent afterwards, while the game is still going on. I'm thinking to myself "He can't play Ke2 because I have the fork on g3 after Bxe4. I need to tell him he should have castled on move 15."

He plays 21. Ke2. I immediately play 21...Bxe4. He plays 22. Bxe4. Without even looking at how the capture has changed the position I instantly play 22...Ng3. Not only do I play the move right away, I slap the piece down with a little more emphasis then normal. I admit it, I was being a hot dog. I was acting like one of the kids. Needless to say I was mortified when he took my knight with his queen. It wasn't quite as bad as when "Mr. White" announced mate with a queen that was hanging. However it was another example of an adult acting like a child playing against a child.

It was tempting to resign on the spot and curse myself for being so unfocused and overconfident, but I was too embarrassed at that point since a number of people had witnessed my faux pas. Even though my body language gave away my feelings about what had just happened, I decided I would try to keep my cool. I wasn't ready for my losing streak to go to seven. I figured with his king still sitting in the center I might get some counter play. Here is the actual game.


I was rather stunned when he put his rook on on d7. I hesitated before taking it. I did not slam the queen down when I made the capture. I had been given a chance to get back into the game. I didn't want to blow it by acting like a knucklehead again. He was down an exchange for a pawn. That's not an automatic win, especially when playing a kid who has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. Hopefully both of us learned something about staying focused and not getting overconfident when the opponent hands you a gift. It was an ugly win, but I'll take the gift along with the $35 first prize and 31 rating points.


KnightFork said...

Polly, glad you had a good time at your nephew's wedding. That will be a day to remember! Super congrats to beating "Joshua" and getting that monkey off your back, and you even won 1st place and $35 to boot! Now with that money you can get a new chess book!

Anonymous said...

30. Rd7 was wrong but he probably couldn't help it but attack, attack, attack instead of playing the defensive move Re5.

"Hubby's tux, dresses ..."
How come the man only gets ONE thing and the woman plural? :-)

iw said...


If you beat Chessaholic, we play for all the marbles in Lepers II



Getting to 2000

Polly said...

tiger: I find that it's easy to go for the jugular when your opponent blundered just a few moves earlier. He's 9 years old so I think he can be forgiven for being a little impetious and moving too fast. I'm a heck of a lot older then him and I was guilty of the same thing when I made my dumb knight move.

Hubby didn't need a new suit for Friday night. I did need a new dress. LOL :-Þ~

Eric Shoemaker said...

Hi Polly, caught your comments at Chris's sight. Love the Baseball Bat idea, hate the jail time that likely comes with it though.

Polly said...

Eric: LOL Yes that would be a big issue. I don't want get involved with prison chess.

Anonymous said...

Any update on the Lepper II game?

Polly said...

Chessaholic and I are having scheduling issues. We hope to get it done next week.