Friday, October 10, 2008

Slow Torture

Typically when the Chess Center of New York or the Marshall Chess Club has a two day slow time control tournament I opt to play the one day schedule on Sunday with two rounds at G/30 and two rounds at the 30/90 SD/1 time controls. I do this for several reasons. One, it saves time and money only making one trip into NYC. Two, and I hate to admit this, but I get so antsy at the slower time control that I need a few games of cracktion. However this particular weekend I could not play early Sunday morning, so I had to do the two day schedule if I wanted to play.

Playing the one day schedule has had its' own perils of late. There was the the Marshall July Grand Prix where I started off 0-3 and then waited around for over three hours to see if I'd play the scariest 1300 or get a bye. Anyone who's been a regular reader knows how that turned out. I barely escaped with a draw in that game. Then there was the New York September Open. I never got around to writing anything about that tournament. The short of it. I went 1-1 in the fast schedule. In round three at the slow time control I played one of my worst games of chess as of late and was done in less then an hour. Maybe I'll put up as a Wacky Wednesday item sometime. It was that type of game. The only saving grace was I had requested a last round bye so after my humiliating loss I left the club and walked from W 10th St. up to Grand Central on 42nd St. I had an hour to kill since the trains run hourly on Sundays and I had missed the 1:30.

So how bad could it be playing the two day schedule and playing all slow games? I had been invited for brunch on Saturday so I took a 1/2 point bye for round one. That was probably the best part of the tournament. I arrived in plenty of time for round two and got paired against a kid rated 1890 who had also taken a first round bye. This game reminded me why I don't really like long time controls. The game was boring, and my opponent was taking forever on what seemed to me pretty straight forward moves. After 20 moves and an hour and half we had reached the following position:

I had just played 20...Rxf4. I was expecting him to play 21. Qxf4 and things were going to get really ugly really quickly. He's threatening 22. Qxc7. A possible continuation would be 21. Qxf4 Rc8 22. d5 Nb8 23. Qf7 Qxf7 24. Rxf7 Rg8 25. e5 Ba4 26. e6. Black's position is very cramped, and the passed pawn is looking rather strong.

After almost 10 minutes of thinking he played 21. Rxf4. That move is not as powerful because it allows me time to challenge white for the f file and keep his rook off of f7. So instead of being put out of my misery fairly quickly the game went on for another two hours. 21... Rf8 22. Qf2 Rxf4 23. Qxf4 Be8 24. d5Nd8 25. Qf2 b6 26. Kh1 Bg6 27. Qd4 Nb7 28. e5 Bxd3 29. Qxd3 Nc5 30. Qf3 h6 31.Bc3 Kg8 32. e6 a5 33. Bd4 Nb7 34. Qf4 Nd6 35. Be5 b5 36. Kg1 Ne8 37. Qc1 b4 38.axb4 axb4 39. Qc4 Kf8 40. Bd4 Kg8 41. Bc5 Qg5 42. Bxb4 Qe3+ 43. Kh1 Qe5 44. Bc3Qd6 45. Qb5 Nf6 46. Bxf6 gxf6 47. Qe8+ Qf8 48. Qd7 Qc5 (I'm trying for Qc1+ followed by Qf4+) 49. Qf7+ Kh8 50. Qxf6+ Black Resigns. With Qxf6+ he's covering the crucial f4 square. That stops all my cheapo checks and there's no stopping the e pawn without giving up my queen. We were the last game done, and it gave me plenty of time to make the 10:30 train home. Sunday was another day.

Is this a bad sign when driving to the train station Chopin's Sonata for Piano #2 is playing and the last part you hear before leaving the car is the Funeral March movement?

Given my warped sense of humor I actually got a chuckle out of hearing it. Was I going to my own chess funeral? Considering how recent attempts at slow time controls have gone, it was kind of fitting as send off music to day two of the tournament. By the time I got to the club and sat down for the 3rd round I had forgotten about Chopin. I was paired against a 7th grader rated 1520. He played very solidly but on the conservative side. I felt at one point in the game he could have put his rook on the h file and his q on f3 and made things very difficult for me. Instead he allowed me to trade down considerably and we ended out in a rook and pawn ending. We each had 6 pawns. It didn't look like either of us could do much with the position so I made one of my rare draw offers which he accepted.

Even though we had played for 2 1/2 hours it still left a lot of time until the next round. I spent time just talking to parents that I knew and then went and watched one of my former students execute a nicely played ending against his higher rated opponent. He gave a series of checks that forced the opponent's king to a square where a queen trade would be forced. Then he promotes his pawn. His opponent didn't want to trade queens so instead he sac-ed it thinking it was going to be a stalemate. At first glance I thought it was stalemate, but he had one square for his king after white takes the free queen. After the game I went out for a bite to eat with him and his dad. The good thing about leaving the club for an early dinner is that it gave me no time to obsess over who I'd play in the last round. I had no idea whether I'd get paired up or down.

I'm glad I didn't think about pairings because it would have ruined the rest of what was turning out to be a pleasant afternoon. When I got back the pairings were up already and I found my name almost at the bottom pairing sheet. I had just made the break so I was paired all the way down against the "scariest 1300". Once again I would have Black against him. I'm not sure if I would have been happier playing the kid rated 1000 who was on the board next to me. He got crushed by his 1748 rated opponent in about an hour. If I had managed to win that quickly against him I could have gotten my cracktion fix by playing in the 7:30 game/30 quads.

I don't know what it is about playing Black against Ken that causes me to get so rattled. On move six I made a notation error on my Mon Roi. I had put 6. Nce2 instead of 6. Nge2. A little mistake like this causes the position on the unit to be different then what's on the board. After he plays 7. g3 I'm looking at the unit and notice in that position his pawn on e4 is no longer protected by the knight on c3. I pick up my knight on f6 to prepare to play 7...Nxe4. Fortunately before I had a chance to grab the pawn, I noticed the discrepancy between the Mon Roi position and the actual board position. I put the knight back on f6, fixed my notation and then tried to figure out where I wanted to move the knight. I moved it to h5 since the other choice was putting back on g8. The knight move was not fatal, but it did lose a tempo.

I think being forced to move a piece that I normally would not have move at that point took a toll on my psyche. My psyche which was already on edge having to play Black against this guy. It also didn't help that I was sitting at the "nervous energy" table. The two middle school aged kids sitting on my left had the very annoying habit of tapping the buttons on their Chronos 3 or 4 times on each move. So every move I'd hear a piece slapped on the board followed by "tap, tap, tap, tap". That why I like the touch sensor Chronos when I'm playing compulsive clock tappers. They can tap the button as many times as they want and I won't hear anything. My opponent tends to mumble to himself while playing, and the guy to his right is in constant motion with facial expressions and head movements. A lot of times I can tune out the external things going on around me. This particular round I couldn't. Even my most mellow classical music wasn't soothing me. It showed in my play.



Anonymous said...

When i ever have to play a Polly Wright i will make the game so boring that you fall asleep and i win because you overstepping the time. :-)

In your last game against that scariest guy i find that in the endgame you played your rook to much to passive squares. I even think that with keeping the rook more active that it might be aswell a draw instead of a loss.

Polly said...

Tiger: Again I didn't make the mental transition from the super defense mode to "I survived. Time to fight back" mode. It's a mental thing taht I need to overcome.