Thursday, July 31, 2008
My rule of thumb regarding unrateds is beware of ones with Eastern European names. So when I was paired against someone whose first name is Laszlo I figured it could be a tough game. It ended out being easier then I thought.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
In the mean time I'll enjoy the cool Canadian air, and the views of Lake Masawippi from our porch. So that you don't have weather envy and can have your Polly's chess here are some interesting positions from this past week.
This position is from round two of last week's "Four Rated Games Tonight!" I was playing a 1900 and we reached the following position. I'm White and it's my move. I knew that I was going to have to give ground to Black, but I think I probably picked the worst continuation.
I played 45. Ke2. This makes it too easy for black to penetrate and and pick off my pawns. 45...Kd4 46. Kd2 Kxc4 47. Kc2 Kd4 48. Kd2 c4 No way for me to stop the c pawn.
We had looked at 45. Kc3 but even that doesn't work out so well if he lays 45...g5. I still lose. However if he plays 45...Ke3 I have some chances. It's an interesting position to play out from the black side. Black has to be careful. If he immediately goes after the king side pawns with Ke3 it's not so easy. Possible continuation is 46. Kb3 Kf3 47. Ka4 h5 48. Kb5Kg2 49. Kxc5 Kxh2 50. Kd5 Kxg3 51. c5 h4 52. c6 h3 53. c7 h2 54. c8=Q h1=Q+.
But he doesn't have to play that way. Instead he plays 45... g5 46. g4 Kf4 47. Kd3 Kxg4 48. Ke4 Kh3 49. Kd5 Kxh2 50. Kxc5g4 51. Kd6 g3 52. c5 g2 53. c6 g1=Q 54. c7 Qg4. I never get to queen in that line.
In round three of that tournament I crushed an unrated. I'll put that game in another post. I should have posted it today since it's Wednesday, and it's almost worthy of Wacky Wednesday status. However posting these games were easier on short notice. After wrecking havoc o the poor unrated I played another 1900 in round four. I'm white in this position and overlooked a very good shot.
I played 35. axb7? Rxb7 36. Ra6 Be7 37. Rge6 Bf6 38. a5 Rc2+ 39. Kh3 Rbb2 40. g4 Rb3 41. Be3 Bd4. We stopped keeping score here, but eventually the c pawn gets through.
Friday, July 25, 2008
As everyone knows in the past year I have taken up Tae Kwon Do. I just got my green belt this week! Woo hoo! Only took me a month instead of two to three months it has been taking to move up. Maybe it's starting to sink into my thick skull.
For people who have read Josh Waitzkin's The Art of Learning or do one of the martial arts recognize that it goes beyond simply doing a sport. Tae Kwon Do is rich in its' history and culture. A very important part of the culture is what is sometimes refered to as the 10 Commandments of Tae Kwon Do. There are variations on the wording. This is how they're stated at my dojang.
- Be loyal to your country.
- Be loving and show fidelity to your parents.
- Be loving between Husband and wife.
- Be cooperative between brothers and sisters.
- Be faithful to your friends.
- Be respectful to your elders.
- Establish trust between teacher and student.
- Use good judgment before killing any living thing.
- Never retreat in battle.
- Always finish what you start.
In my dojang these are called the 10 Rules of Mental Education and we recite them at the end of class. I didn't need to take Tae Kwon Do to learn these things. Growing up my parents expected us to behave accordingly. You can bet that I caught hell if I didn't follow numbers 2, 4, 5, and 7 in particular. They didn't necessarily state it in these words, but lessons were there.
As a kid with attention issues, number 10 was always a problem for me. I was one of these kids who constantly started new things and would jump to something else when I got bored or frustrated with the old thing. My summer camp counselors sent home reports at the end of the summer. A typical report from the arts and craft counselor would be, "Polly is very creative, but she never finishes a project before moving onto something else." I was a multi-tasker before there was such a thing as multi-tasking.
Studying Tae Kwon Do forces you to see something to the end if you want to progress to the next belt level. There's no such thing as "I'm bored with the yellow belt poomse (form), I think I'll learn the orange belt poomse now." You learn all the requirements for your belt color, and when the masters think you've learned it then you promote to the next belt level. Only then can you learn the new techniques for your next belt.
Sometimes I think chess needs this type of system of advancement. Some chess classes and school do try to impose such structure, but because the chess culture in this country doesn't have such a rich history of tradition and structure it doesn't always work. Too often a parent thinks they know what is best for their child's chess education. Instead of trusting the instinct and experience of a chess teacher who worked for many years with students of varying abilities and learning styles they figure they know what opening their kid should play or what tactics to work on.. There are times where the parent may even be higher rated then their child's coach, but lacking the experience in how to direct a young player in the right they may steer them in the wrong direction.
What I've noticed in Tae Kwon Do that parents seem to put more faith in their child's instructors and tend to butt out in terms of saying stuff like "Don't you think my son should be doing this, not that?" I met a father and son at our June black belt test weekend. The 13 year old son was testing for his first degree black belt. The father had very impressive credentials as a national level Tae Kwon Do coach, and yet he has chosen not to interfere with how his son is being trained at our school. He has some philosophical differences with our grandmaster in terms of some of the training and of the business model aspects of the school. However he feels that it's important for his son's development as a young martial artist to follow the course laid out for him as he has made his way through the color belt levels to reach his first degree black belt. Compared with overbearing little league parents, soccer moms from hell, and insane chess parents the Tae Kwon Do parent seems a lot more rational. I think it also helps when after a few months of watching their kids, they decide they will give it a try. How many chess parents will try to learn chess and go play in a tournament?
Note: Oops went off on a tangent there with those last 2 paragraphs. They probably deserve their own post, but having enough trouble finishing this post on finishing what you start.
I still have difficulty finishing certain types of tasks. This week's Wacky Wednesday post was a result of not finishing my filing before looking at the game and writing a post about it. In fact the folders are still sitting on the floor next to the filing cabinet. I will get back to it, eventually.
My attitude about finishing things changes drastically when it comes to competive activities. If I start a race, I'm going to finish it unless I'm yanked off the course because I'm too slow or something catastrophic happens. I'm not one to say, "My time sucks, I'm going to come in last, or I don't want people to see how lousy I did." In triathlon we have an expression "DFL is better then DNF which is better then DNS" The G rated translation is "Dead Freaking Last is better then Did Not Finish, which is better then Did Not Start."
I've always had the same attitude about chess tournaments. I don't like dropping out just because my score sucks or I've played like crap. I can count on one hand the number of times I've dropped out of a chess tournament. Most of the time it's had nothing to do with how I'm doing in the tournament. One tournament I actually had to drop out for the last round after going 3-0 to start. Back then there were no 1/2 byes, so not much I could do.
Dropping out because I have a lousy score doesn't cut it for me. Others do it frequently. Often I don't understand the person's logic, but its a personal choice that players make themselves. For myself I just feel that if I'm telling my students to pick themselves up after a horrible loss, and not let a bad tournament get them down then I'm being a bit hypocritical by dropping out because I'm 0-3.
End of my rambling introduction. - The tournament in question:
Sunday I played in The Marshall Chess Club July Grand Prix. I hit a milestone in the first round when I played my 3900th game of USCF rated chess. Quick synopsis of the events leading to my dilemma of the 10th Rule. Rounds one and two I got paired up against a 2060 and 1890. I played decently, but lost both games. In fact my second round game against Ben G. (the original King Kong kid) was one of my best games against him. Round three I get paired "down" against a 1526. Except that he wasn't really 1526 because of this and this. Even though I didn't know about those results at the time, somehow I knew he was way better then his rating indicated. A few errors on my part added up and I lost that game too.
Now I had three hours until the last round. I wasn't dwelling on pairings and possible byes, but just a quick look at the wall chart and pairings made it abudantly clear what the last round would bring. Either I'd get the bye since the other zero was taking a 1/2 point bye, or I'd get paired against the scariest 1300 I've played. Since he had two blacks in a row I'd have to play black against him. What's so scary about a guy that I out rate by 400 points and I have a winning record against? He's insane. He plays crazy stuff, gets really good positions, but often can't pull the trigger at the end.
Knowing that I had three hours to kill while waiting see if I would get a bye or play Ken made it very tempting to break the 10th rule and not finish what I had started. I'm sure some people are reading this and saying to themselves "What? Is she insane? Why in earth would she hang around for three hours to see if she's going to play a 1300 or get a bye? Doesn't she have anything better to do on a Sunday afternoon?" All good questions. The short answers are "Yes, because, and no."
Actually the answers aren't really that simple. Despite my lousy score I was actually enjoying myself. I spent a lot of time just hanging out talking to people, going over my third round game, playing blitz, and not having to rush home. My husband was in Chicago. What was I going to do? Rush home to an empty house and watch TV all night? Work on my filing? Study chess at home? Nah, hanging out at the air conditioned Marshall Chess Club on a hot Sunday was a nice alternative to all of the above.
What would happen if I got the bye? Would I have sat there for 3 hours just to get sent home early anyway? No. The day manager, Leif who was directing the tournament would be relieved by Nick at 6 PM. He offered to be the house player and play me in round four if another suitable house player could not be found. Either way I knew I had a game. As much as I hate byes I almost would rather get a bye and the opportunity to play a strong house player then to play crazy Ken. What's the worst that could happen? I would lose to Leif rated 2100 and go 0-4? Actually the worst, worst thing that would happen is I'd lose to Ken. It has happened before.
It should have happened again. He played some strange stuff and I think it threw me off my game. Also I don't think it helps having three hours to think about what possibly could go wrong. Here's the game.
When he offered the draw I think he still had some decent chances to shift play to the queen side and try coming in that way. I didn't hear him at first because I was listening to my ipod during the game. It's funny how many times I changed what I was listening to. The music was either getting me down because it was too somber, or too amped up because it was overly energetic. Not having music was even worse. The only reason I suspected he said something to me was because his facial expression said "Well? Do want the draw or not?" I gladly accepted. I was too drained and there was too much time left to wait and see if he'd implode.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
While cleaning out some files with assorted chess lessons and notes I came across this game played by two kids in the Primary section of a tournament I directed back in 2002. I had never looked at it before so in deciding whether I should keep the piece of paper or not I decided to play it out. I found it rather amusing and thought given its length it would be suitable Wacky Wednesday material. The names have been changed to protect the guilty, um....innocent? Neither of these kids are playing anymore. I haven't quite formulated a lesson plan around the game yet. Maybe after you look at it, you can give me some ideas. :-)
Monday, July 21, 2008
We reached this position after Silvio's move of 35...Ra1. At the time I was feeling rather glum about my prospects. I figured the a pawn was toast and Black's a and b pawns would be cruising down the board fairly easily. I didn't see much hope for my lonely d pawn. In reality my position wasn't as bad I thought, but I got it into my head that my only chance of winning was to try for some crazy rook and knight mate. This was the pattern I had in mind.
With that idea in my head I played 36.h4 h5? He knew what I was up to so he stopped my advance, but better would have been to simply play 36...Rxa5. So I went with plan B which was to march the king up there. 37.Kf4 Rf1+? A mistake since that drives my king to where I want him. 38.Kg5 Nd5 39.Ng6 Rf5 This is desperate try on black's part to put off the inevitable mate on h8. 40.Kxf5 Ne3+ 41.Kg5 1-0
After the game was done we started analysing. Now we get to my chess riddle that I made up. In the course of our Fritz-less analysis some how we arrived at the following position.
pw-sr analysis 071808.pgn
We spent a lot of time with the variation where I chase the king around he keeps making interpositions with one of the two queens. It took us a long time to come up with the idea that interposing isn't really necessary. Just run the king to a spot where white runs out of checks or allows black to interpose with check, forcing the queen trade. When writing this post I let Fritz loose on the position. All I can say is Fritz makes it look so simple.
Friday, July 18, 2008
With "Four Rated Games Tonight!" I really don't have look at the wall chart too closely to know that unless the field is unusually small and weak I will get paired up for at least two rounds. It seems that no matter where I am on the wall chart if I lose in the first round my opponent will get paired against an IM or GM. In April I had two weeks in a row where I got Vladimir Polyakin in the first round and after beating me got Jay Bonin in round two. Those same two weeks I got Jay's first round opponents. In most cases it works out much better for Jay since he's most likely going to be 2-0 or maybe 1.5 - .5, more times then not I'm looking at 0-2.
This week Jay got my first round opponent in round two, and he had about as much luck beating him as I did. I didn't get his first round opponent. Unfortunately I got a 2100 player who had been upset in the first round by a 1750. I think he decided to take his frustrations out on me. It wasn't enough to simply beat me, he crushed me. I'd be thinking "Okay he's going to win a pawn here." He ignores the free pawn. A few moves later he sacs the exchange. It wasn't really sound, but passive play on my part made it work for him. Later I'd think "Okay he's going to get the rook back." Why bother grabbing a mere rook? He can threaten mate forcing me to give up my queen to stop it.
Click on + to view game.
Note to self: Don't play Ne4 against the Trompowski if you don't know what you're doing.
It's normally between rounds two and three that I start fretting over possible pairings and bye possibilities. This night I refused to even look at round two results or the wall chart. One of my regular readers who was hanging out while his son played downstairs in the Members Only Thursday Night tournament started talking to me about my possible round three opponent. He tells me "maybe you'll play Steve Chernick or one the 1400 rated kids. It depends on what Schnitzler did. He may play Chernick." I told him it didn't really matter to me, and that I wasn't even going to try to figure it out. I suppose knowing that there was not some kid with a 3 digit rating that I might have to play if I just make the break, or being faced with a round three bye made it easier to tune out thoughts about who I'd play next.
As it turned out just as Anatoliy had predicted, I played one of the kids with a 1487 rating. No fireworks or excitement in the game. I played a boring opening, we traded down and his bishop pair was much more active then my bishop and knight. He won a pawn and then marched his a pawn down the board. End of story. Kind of a "Dog Bites Man" type of story, except here's another kid winning by grinding out a positional yawner, not by going for a slash and bash attack.
So it came down to waiting for the answer to the frequently asked question of "Does Polly get sent home early or not?" The only difference, I wasn't asking the question. I went into the back room and listened to Shernaz Kennedy tell one of her interesting Bobby Fischer stories. I didn't look at the wall chart to try to figure out if there would be an odd or even number, whether or not I was the lowest zero or who I'd play if there was an even number. I decided it didn't matter. Don't sweat the small stuff.
The pairings went up, and I actually had a fourth round game. I was a little surprised by who I ended out playing. My inner-TD is always curious about seemingly odd computer generated pairings. For what ever reason Swiss-Sys did not drop the low 1 pointer who played white in round four to play me. Instead it dropped one of the middle 1 pointers who like me was due black. So not only did I get to play the fourth round, but I got a third white. Not that having another white guaranteed me improved chances. I was 0-2 with white that night, and lately my play as white has been underwhelming. I wasn't complaining. If I had been in my usual "fret about who I'm playing" mode I would have been stressed about having to play a third grader with a 1300 rating. Having not fretted about it, I was thrilled to be playing a 1600 rated high school kid instead.
"Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!" - Time Pressure Magic
We reached this position after 38 Qf7+ Kh8. I had 3 seconds and my opponent had almost 3 minutes. In the meantime there's was a dispute on a near by board over an insufficient losing chances claim. The player making the claim is a big loud guy so there is no such thing as a quiet resolution to a dispute involving this game. My opponent and I keeping tell them to quiet down. That may be why I missed the immediate 39. Rxh6+ Kh8 40. Qf6+ Kh7 41. Qxf8. Instead I played 39. Kf2 to break the pin on my knight. He plays 39...Rf8? I spotted the pinned bishop and play 40. Qxf8+. The game continues 40...Kh7 41.Qf7+ Kh8 42.Qf8+ Kh7 I debated briefly on simply repeating the position since my time was so short. Instead I continue 43.Rxh6 Qxh6 44.Qxh6 Kxh6 Now I have only 1 second left and he still has over 2 minutes. I'm up a knight and figure that the worse thing that will happen is I offer a draw if I can't wipe his pawns and promote one of mine. Time delay gives me that option.
45. Nf1 g5 46.Ne3 Kg6 47.Nd5 Kg7 48.Ne7 Kg6?? (illegal move!) After adding the two minutes to my time we play a few more moves, and he resigns. He realizes that in this position two minutes is all the time in the world and I'll have no difficulty winning. Phew! A close call. It was not a steller night of chess, but at least it ended on a good note. Maybe next week I can ignore all the pairing and bye concerns again, and win a couple of games.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I'm not sure how pairing numbers were assigned so instead it ended out people just playing random people who may have been matched up for later rounds. As this tournament progresses (regresses) I have visions of a group of people showing up and everyone has played everyone else. I'll let Andre sort that out! I suppose it will all shake out in the end, but I'll be the one submitting all the results to USCF after everything is said and done. Fortunately the newest version of Swiss-Sys makes it fairly easy to jump around to put in results, so hopefully it won't be too much of a pain in the butt before it's all done.
Even though I'm organizationally challenged and my desk continually looks like a bomb has gone off on it, I have difficulty dealing with chaos when it comes to chess tournaments. As a director I like things to run smoothly, and I have my routine to help ensure that things will go as smoothly as possible. As a player I just want to know who and where I'm playing. Albeit difficult, I try not to worry about how I ended out playing a certain person with what ever color I was assigned. Disruptions in my directing and playing routines can cause havoc with my mental frame of mind.
Needless to say this tournament did not get off to a good start for me. I'm sure it was a combination of continuing jet lag and my getting a little stressed by the chaos not knowing who I was supposed to play. Was I going to play my opponent (Ben) from last week's round one which I missed, my actual round two opponent (Silvio) who was going to be an hour late, or my round 3 opponent (Dario) who played his round two game last week during round one? The TD was running around the room figuring out who was playing who. I didn't know whether I should start my game against Dario or not. Like I said in the title organized bedlam. Finally I just thought to myself "the hell with it" and started my game with Dario. At least I tried to. He made his first move as white, and when I hit start on my Mon Roi, I realized I forgot to click the black box, so it was showing me as white. I had to exit the game, and start all over. Inputting all the information such as tournament, date, round, opponent, and rating is the slowest part of using a Mon Roi. Dario graciously stopped the clock while I re-inputted all the information.
Maybe I would have been better off inputting the game from White's side. I sure wasn't seeing anything from Black's side. I lost two pawns early and spend entire game trying to get my pieces out. The first pawn I dropped was a blunder and gave him active squares for his knight. I gave up the send pawn thinking I was getting counter play. Nope. I forgot his f3 knight was covering the square where I wanted to stick my queen and annoy him.
We were the last game going on so everyone was watching. When he played 47. Bh3 I could not see beyond the fact that I had to abandon the queening square. I was sure within a move or two I'd be fored to give up the exchange to stop his pawn from queening. When I resigned at that point all the kibitzers were quick to point out things I could have done. Before I could even record the result they were moving the pieces around the board. There was a little life left in the position for me, but I think at that point I was too tired and stressed to work it out. Here are a few possibilities that I looked at today.
47...Ra7 48. f8/Q Rxf8 49. Rxf8 Rxh7 (this was what I didn't see for me if promotes right away.) 50. Rb8+ Kc6 51. Bg5 Ba5 I still have to contend with the h pawn, but it's not an easy win for white.
47...Ra7 48. Bc1 Rcc8 49. Rg1 Bf8 50. h4 Ra2+ 51. Kd3! (51. Kd1?? is bad for white. Rh2 52. Rh8 c2+ 53. Ke1 Bb4+ 54. Kf1 Rxh8) 51...Rh2 52. Rh8 Rf2. Still an uphill battle for me, but not hopeless quite yet.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
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.
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.
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.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
At the time I was not looking for donations because my fundraising was done for the year. It's a new year, and once again I will spending the third weekend in October in San Francisco doing the Nike Women's Marathon on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
In response to last year's post, I received the following comment:
Glenn Wilson said...
Next year maybe I'll make a shameless plug.
Please do (and now you'll be able to say that it is by request!).
So at Glenn's request here is my shameless plug for a wonderful cause that I've been involved with since 2003.
Friday, July 11, 2008
View from the near the top of Seonunsan Provincial Park. Yes that is Buddha carved into the pocks.
What better place for a lotus pose in front of a lotus patch. I know I'm cheating because my legs aren't on top. Sorry I'm not that flexible.
I only had internet access in Seoul so no time to blog or check other people's blogs. I did not get a chance to go to the chess club in Seoul. Even though I was in the city on the night it met, our group had received tickets to see Nanta. I did not want to miss our dinner and show.
I brought a chess set with me, but no one in our group seemed to play. I was reduced to playing the pathetic program that's part of the in flight entertainment system. I had lots of choices in terms of movies, music, and games. I decided I give the chess program a try. Even on "hard" it was pretty pathetic. The first game I won in around 15 moves. I couldn't remember all of the moves, so I played again. The program put up a little more of a fight, but I still crushed it despite having been on the plane for over 6 hours with another 6 hours to go. I was going to put it up as a Wacky Wednesday" post, but was too tired to put into Chess Base at the time.
Those are just a few pictures from the trip. I've a gazillian pivs and will post more, and talk about the trip. However I just wanted eveone to know I survived. I just don't want to see boiled white rice and kimchi any time too soon.
I'm fading! Over and out........ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz........