Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Empire State Open - Day 2 Closing the Joint Down: Edited

For the second tournament this week I'd play brothers in back to back rounds. On Monday it was Giancarlo Dell'Orto followed by older brother Dario. Over the weekend it was older brother Michael Brooks, followed by younger brother Will. It wasn't an overly exciting game. On move 32 we had 6 pawns each and bishop against a knight. He offered a draw, which I accepted. The combination of not having slept all that well, and a 9:00 AM round start made the draw offer attractive. It gave me time to relax and just hang out with some of the kids from my area. I ended out watching a totally insipid Adam Sandler movie with them. Nothing like a dumb movie to take one's mind off of chess for a few hours.

Going into the last round I had 2.5 points. That was 2.5 more points then I had last year going into the last round, so I really couldn't complain. If I won the last round I'd have a good shot at a portion of the under 1800 money. However I knew it was likely I'd be paired up, so I'd have my work cut out for me. Sure enough I was paired against a 1899 who had 3 points. If he won he'd have a shot at a portion of the place money. We both had reasons to go all out.

Sometimes the body can't keep up with the mind, and it takes some extra measures to try to get things moving. I often struggle with the long time limits because I get restless if my opponent is taking a lot of time. Since the advent of 40/2, G/1 time limits I don't think I've played the full six hour session. My typical games at that time control usually last between 2.5 and 4 hours. Sometimes I'll have a game that will approach 5 hours. My last round game at this year's US Amateur Team was probably my longest game at that time control. It went close to 5.5 hours

Often players will talk about falling asleep during a game, and missing a strong move. Usually they're speaking figuratively when referring to falling asleep. In my case I was literally falling asleep during the early part of my last round game. My opponent would go into a deep think, and I close my eyes. I would start dreaming about other positions or about something totally unrelated to chess. Even when it was my move I would sometimes drift off and couldn't stay focused on the position. All the traveling around and sleeping in strange beds was catching up with me.

I tried walking around when it wasn't my move, but every time I sat down the urge to close my eyes would come over me. When my eyes would close I'd start falling asleep. It was obvious that if I didn't do something about my drowsiness I'd make some horrendous blunder. As it was I was having trouble finding the right moves. I missed winning a pawn on move 16 because I couldn't find the defense to the fork that occurs after I capture the pawn. There was a simple move that holds both pieces, but since I didn't see it I opted not to take the pawn. That pawn would be annoying later on.

As my opponent went into another deep think I decided the only way I was going to wake myself up was to get some caffeine into me. I debated about whether I should send someone out to get tea for me, or get it myself. I find half the time people botch up my order when I ask them get me a cup of tea. They forget that I asked for it black, with no sugar so they end out bringing me tea with milk in it. I decided it would probably be easier for me to run across the street and get it myself then to explain to someone how I like it.

One of the great things about this location is there's a gas station across the street with a big convenience store where you can get cheap sandwiches and cheap coffee or tea. I'm not a big fan of overpriced tea and coffee. I go over and get a 20 oz cup of Earl Grey tea for $1.69. The same thing down the street would have cost $4.00. My trip over and back probably took about 10 minutes, but my opponent still had not moved. I think the combination of getting a little fresh air and some caffeine into my system helped me wake up.

All around us games are finishing and ours has barely begun. We're both using a lot of time. Now that I'm awake I'm actually looking at the board, and not dreaming about some other position. Being awake can sometimes be dangerous, especially when one discovers that the position induced by the sleepy portion of the game isn't very good. I found myself tied up in knots by his knight sitting on d6 guarded by that e pawn that I neglected to take 10 moves ago. I decided the knight had to go, even if it cost me my rook. I knew I'd get at least one pawn for the exchange, and maybe even two.

We both overlooked the fact that he can sac the exchange back in a couple of moves and run his passed pawn down to d8. However there would be no story if that had happened. Instead I’d be writing something to the effect of “I had a last round meltdown.” Been there, done that, have written about it, don’t need to write about it again. Instead I was able to get two pawns for the exchange and things got interesting after that.

In a rare show of patience on my part I was actually using all of my time on the first time control. Usually if my opponent has used almost all of his two hours, I’ve probably only used an hour by the time we hit 40 moves. This was a different game for me. I had taken a chance with my exchange sacrifice, and it was paying off. No matter what was going to happen I was going to keep things interesting. I think I finally had gotten fed up with my wimpy play against the Brooks brothers.

Every round Steve announces the time control and reminds players to make sure their clocks are set correctly. I’ve heard the announcement so many times I tend to tune it out. Since I have a bunch of preset time controls programmed into memory it’s very easy to select the one I need. On a one time control game such as G/60 it’s easy to tell whether or not the clock is set correctly. On a two control game it’s possible that not all the settings are correct. The first time control may be set properly, but unless you look you won’t know whether the second one is correct or not. I had not looked so when my opponent made his 40th move I was horrified to notice that the clock only added 40 minutes to his time. I didn’t want to mess with the clock until I made my 40th move.

Once I made my move I stopped the clock and told my opponent what had happened. He had noticed the time was wrong also. I added the extra 20 minutes to each side. I’m always mortified when something like that happens. I’m one who certainly should know to always check the clock before starting. I’m not sure how the second time control ended out with only 40 minutes. I don’t recall playing in any tournament with that as a second control. However I’ve loaned my clock to kids at times, and who knows what they do with the settings. The text in italics I wrote when I first published this post. Since writing this, I suddenly remembered where the G/40 secondary time control came from. The Blackstone Chess Festival Open had the very strange time limit of 40/80, G/40 with a 15 second delay. I only remembered about it after participating in this discussion on the USCF Forums. I guess in the first game at the slow time control I didn’t get to the second control otherwise I would have noticed the error. I don't use this clock much for multiple time control events, so it's not too surprising that I had a setting left from an August tournament. Those 20 extra minutes would be used by both of us.

From move 41 to 50 it was a lot of maneuvering with the queens. I knew eventually one my queen side pawns would fall, but I was hoping I’d pick up his a pawn, and keep things even. I messed up and he got the c pawn, but I started getting play. In the mean time there are only 2 or 3 games left.

I had built a fortress around my king, but it left my knight totally out of play. Finally I decided I would open the h file even though I risked his getting his queen and rook in there. It got crazy after that, and all the games were done. Everyone was watching. It was a wild finish, but unfortunately I ran out of time before I could find the move that holds everything.

The loss cost me $150, but it was the most fun I’ve had in a chess game in a long time. As I was getting ready to leave Steve was raging on me because he had to write a bunch of $20 checks for the tie for 2nd 1800 instead one check for $150. Sigh. I would liked to have pulled it out, but I froze at the end.

Originally I was going to drive back home after the last round, but since it approaching 10 pm and I had a 3 hour drive ahead of me, I opted to go back to my sister’s house. Hubby would have get himself to the airport the next day.

SRomero - PW122708.pgn

This is the final position when my flag fell.

Position after 60. Kg2

f6 is my best shot here. I just couldn't find it quick enough. A possible continuation would be 60... f6 61. Rd2 (61. Qh4 Qd5+ 62. Kg1 Nf4 63. Rxf4 g5) 61... Qa4 62. Qh4 Qc6+63. Kf2 Nf4 64. Qg3 Qc7.

The photo below indicates a fitting end to my weekend. Somehow I managed to dump my water glass. Fortunately I managed not to dump it on the board, a camera or computer. Maybe there is hope for me after all.

I'm finishing this post at the Marshall Chess Club where I just got through playing in "Your Last Blunder of 2008". I guess it was fitting that I blundered away a win in the last round and ended out with a draw. It could have been worse. I could have lost!

PS: My actual last blunder of 2008 was forgetting to put the memory card back in my camera, so all the pictures I took during the Marshall Chess Club New Years eve party were being saved to a black hole. Duh!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Empire State Open - Day 1

It's taken me a few days to posting about this tournament. By the time I had arrived in Saratoga Springs I had traveled from my house to Albany, from Albany to South Jersey, South Jersey to North Jersey, back to Albany, and then up to Saratoga Springs. Visiting family for the holidays followed by a chess tournament can be exhausting. During that time I spent the night in two different hotels and two different guest rooms at my sister's and friend's houses. It was good to sleep in my own bed last night!

After last year's fiasco, I was looking for signs that this year would be different. The first sign came in the first round when I got paired up against an adult, instead paired down against a little kid. I played adults the first two rounds, and had a 1/2 point more then I did last year after 4 rounds. That's a vast improvement since I started 0-4 last year! In round three I got the inevitable kid pairing, but I didn't really mind. I played one of the girls from New York City that I've played before and have a winning record against. She played a little wildly at the beginning, and paid for it later.

Polly - Lilia 122708.pgn

In round four I played Michael Brooks. He was my last round opponent at the Saratoga Open when I already had the section won. Our game in that tournament was a wild one that ended out a draw. This game was another one with tactical shots. I managed not to blunder anything, and won a pawn. We reached a knight and pawns ending. He offered me a draw in this position:

I probably should declined the draw offer and played more moves. However I was tired and was having trouble counting out even the simplest variation with the knight trade, so I opted to take the draw. It's a simple win if he takes my c pawn and allows me to trade knights. 37. Nxc4? Nxc4 38. Kxc4 Kh4 39. Kb5 Kxh3 40. Ka6 h5 41. Kxa7 h4 42. a4 Kg2 43. a5 h3 44. a6 h2 45. Kb8 h1=Q 46. a7 Qb1+ 47. Kc7 Qa2 48. Kb8 Qg8+ 49. Kb7 Kxf2 50. a8=Q Qxa8+ 51. Kxa8 f5 52. Ka7 f4 53. Kb6 f3 54. Kc5 Ke3 55. Kd5 f2 56. Ke5 f1=Q

I didn't expect him to make that trade, and with knights on the board I don't think I can do much with the extra pawn. 36... Kg5 37. Ke4 Kh4 38. f4 Nc6 39. Nxc4 Ne7 is one possible continuation. With all the pawns being isolated I didn't think there was a win.

Michael and his brother Will were part of a group of Vermonters who came to play in Saratoga. One member of the Vermont contingent was Ben Karren, a student at UVM. He was wearing a UVM Chess tee shirt. I introduced myself and told him I had founded the UVM chess club back in 1974 during my sophomore year. He had started up a chess club again in 2007. We were comparing notes on who still played at the Burlington Chess Club that I would have played when I was there.

Founder 1974 & Re-Founder 2007
University of Vermont Chess Club

I give up on trying to center the caption! If anyone can explain why when I try to center the caption it puts the center code at the top of the page and centers the paragraphs instead of the caption I'd appreciate it. I am severely HTML challenged, and can't get it to work.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas! ( A Day Late)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas yesterday, or a fantastic week of Hanukkah. After three days of eating and fun with my family it will be back to the chess grind in Saratoga Springs. Hopefully things will be more like my last trip there in March, then my previous trip last December. Yes indeed, I'm returning to the scene of the crime, The Empire State Open.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wins to Draws, and Losses to Ugly Losses!

If any of you follow Jim West's blog, you'll notice he posted my game against him from Sunday night. Steve sometimes runs these quads on Sunday evenings when he has another event going on over the weekend. Who shows for these can be kind of a crap shoot. Sometimes he has 8 players and has two sections, other times maybe 4 to 6 players in one section. It can be risky coming just to play in that tournament. Since I was planning to come into the city anyway to do some Christmas shopping, I figured I play in the tournament too.

It was one of those just barely make a tournament type of nights. Four of us showed up. The ratings ranged from 2200 down to my 1730. Being number four in the quad it could have been one of those butt ugly nights where I'd lose all three games. All three of my opponents I have losing records against. On the other hand I've beaten each of them at least once. Knowing that, I tried to stay positive about my chances. I played Jim in the first round and managed to draw. It's always nice to start a quad drawing with a master. I was better, but the clock was an issue for both of us, and I settled for the draw.

In the second round I played the 1900 and again I was better. I was up a pawn, and just couldn't get it done. In the position below I went pawn grabbing and ended out having to take a draw.

30. Qxb7? Better is 30. Bg2 Qf6 31. Be4+ Kh6 32. Qd7 f3 33. Qh3+. 30... f3! 31. Bf1 It took me awhile to find this one move that holds the position. 31...Qc1 32. Kg1 Qg5+ 33. Kh1 Qc1 34. Kg1 Qg5+ 35. Kh1 1/2-1/2

In the last round I played Gabor Schnitzler. We've played over 40 times, and my record against him is pretty pathetic. However lately I've had a good run against him, winning our last three games in a row until this past Thursday. Thursday I lost an ugly game where as Black I never got my pieces developed fully. In my effort to try to get an edge on the clock I had played too fast. Here's Thursday's game:


Unfortunately it not only cost me a little pride, but it also cost me the under 2000 prize. The game is illustrative of my recent difficulties playing Black against anything besides 1. e4.

In Sunday's quad we were paired against each other for the last round,so it would be a choosing for color. My track record in tossing or choosing for color is lame. I can't remember the last time I've actually won the toss. So continuing in that same vein, I end out with Black again. I decided I would play a little differently, but alas things didn't work out any better.


I got to find something to do against this random junk people play as White. It's getting annoying. Time to revamp the openings! I guess another thing to add to my list of things to do in 2009.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Champions of Discipline

I have been to many of the scholastic nationals both as a coach and a tournament director. As a coach I have a little more time to observe what goes on around the tournament venue. There's always something that makes an impression on me. What grabbed my attention this time was the group of children from Norwood Elementary of Miami. First of all, they were the sharpest looking chess team out there with their matching bright yellow windbreakers, shirts, and blue back packs. They were not hard to miss!

Every round you would see them lined up, and go into the playing hall as a team. What impressed me was how orderly the line was. No kids jumping out of line. Nobody yelling or giving the parents, chaperons or teachers a hard time. They went in and quietly found their seat and got down to the business of playing chess.

When the kids finished they would go to back of the room where parents and coaches were sitting. They would sit quietly with the adults who accompanied them and wait for all their teammates to finish.

When everyone was done, they'd line up and leave the playing hall as a team.

After the last round was done, as each child filed by, this one chaperon gave each child a big hug, and words of praise and encouragement. It was really a very sweet moment for these children. This was their first nationals, and I'm sure for many of them their first time away from Miami. I spoke to a couple of the parents and the assistant principal. I could tell they were really proud of their kids and their school. They had every right to be. They really impressed me with their behavior and discipline. They did their school proud. They may not have won many trophies, but they won the respect of those who observed their fine behavior. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who noticed.

The Norwood Tigers were grrrrrrrrreat!!!

Go Tigers! I hope to see you in Nashville next April for the Super Nationals.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tired Tuesday

I got back from Orlando yesterday. We had a nice time at Epcot. It was a good way to celebrate and unwind after an exciting, but sometimes stressful weekend. Even though travel wise it's a very easy trip to make, I feel like I just got back from somewhere far away. It can be emotionally draining, physically exhausting, but at the same time lots of fun and very challenging. I always enjoy seeing old friends, and making new ones. Then there is the Murphy factor. Good old Murphy will rear his ugly head now and then.

When a team that has high expectations for how they're going to do, it can be rough emotionally when things don't quite work out as planned. One kid or another will blame himself for the team missing first place by what ever number of points it happens to be. In this case it was a measly half point between first and second place. It's easy for one kid to feel responsible when it's such a small margin. One kid or another will say, "I was clearly winning, but blundered. If I won that game, we'd been first." However he's forgetting how in an earlier round one of his teammates said, "I was so busted, and my opponent made the wrong move. I can't believe I won that game." It's funny how easy it is to forget that the gift win may have been the difference between second and third place.

There are just too many things that can go wrong or go right. If one went by predicted performance, using ratings as the basis then the top two teams placed as expected. "Stuff happens", and when enough "stuff happens" things can change for the better or the worse. It's so easy to look at the bad, and blame it all on that, and forget the about the good. I'm just as guilty of it as any of the kids. Many of you have left me comments reminding me not to be so hard on myself. I have to give that same advice to the the kids.

I have more pictures and some games, but they will have to wait another day.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

K - 12: Day 3

It's over! What a weekend. It was touch and go right to the very last round. Our 9th grade team came in second by a half a point. So close, yet so far. Perhaps the biggest story for the group was our lone representative in the 6th grade section. He came in ranked 7th, and when all was said and done he won the section with a score of 6.5 out of 7. Going into the last round he had 5.5 and faced the lone 6-0. He was able to control his own destiny with his last round win.

Michael Bodek, 6th Grade National Champion

I mentioned in one of my earlier reports that I was pulling for Josh to win the 5th grade section so I could say I've lost to a national champion. Josh didn't win his section, though he did come in 3rd. However I lost to Michael in "Your Last Blunder of 2007". He was the 1375 who beat me in the last round of that tournament. His rating has gone up over 500 points since that tournament on New Year's eve.

I only have a little bit of internet time left, and I need to send a few emails. So to paraphrase the commercial...... "So Polly, you've survived another Nationals and the kids had a great tournament what are you doing next???"

"I'm going to Epcot!"

I will be posting more pictures when I get back to New York and sharing a few thoughts. For complete results go here.

K-12 Nationals Day 2

Saturday is the killer day. 3 rounds of exhausting chess. The match ups get tighter, and the tension increases. It's also when you start to get an idea of how things are going to play out as the favorites either plow their way through the competition, or are met with unexpected resistance. Hopes rise and fall round by round. I saw that just in my own team room. I'm sure the same thing was happening all over the convention center. Here's the scene during any of the rounds.
Must find my child's pairing!

I'm playing somebody rated how much???

You are here.......
Your child is somewhere out here.....
How is he doing?

Today I got a chance to go over to the K-1 room and take pictures before the round started. The kids are adorable, and the Chief TD for that room is like a mother hen, tending to her little chicks. With five and six year olds mom and dad are little more concerned about their little ones and how they'll cope with winning and losing. It usually takes a little longer to clear the room as mommy and daddy give their little ones one last hug, and one last pep talk. I did get a chance to take some pictures of the number one and two players in the First Grade section, and got parental blessing to share these shots. I took these pictures before the start of round four. They both won that round and their fifth round. Sunday in round six they will face each other. There is one other perfect score. Note: I since have updated the caption on the picture below.

Benjamin Lu, of Pennsylvania, rated 1211.
1st Grade National Champion

Aravind Kumar of New Jersey, rated 1595!

I'm glad I don't have to play either one of them. They're six years old. I have a couple of close calls against other six year old kids. It just amazes me that children that age can grasp chess in such a way that they can achieve such impressive results. I think I was maybe playing "Go Fish" or "War" when I was six.

As for myself, I did play in the Parents & Friends tournament. I managed not to lose to any grossly under rated chess parents. I did take a bye in round two, just to break it up a bit. That round usually is pretty stressful as the kids are pouring back into the playing room normally about the time I'm in horrible time pressure! Taking a 1/2 point bye was not exactly the Swiss Gambit, as the other player taking a 1/2 point bye that round was rated 2200, and we faced each other in round three. You can safely assume that since this is at the bottom of the report, that I had the expected result. You know if I had won, that would have been the first thing I wrote.

My round one win was fun, and I will post it another day. My last round game was totally insane as some 1200 was destroying my king side with the Yugoslav Attack. Somehow in the throes of insane time pressure I pulled a rabbit out of a hat. It helps when your opponent makes an illegal move when you have 1 second left. The two minutes added to one's clock for the opponent's illegal move come in really handy.

Off to bed. It's shorter day chess wise, but starts earlier. 9:00 AM for round one. Show time! We're a 1/2 point out of first, and 1/2 point ahead of third.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

K-12 Nationals Day 1

Yesterday I posted some pictures from the blitz tournament, including a picture of parent whose chess attire was more colorful then mine. I had taken a number of pictures of his daughter who was playing in the K-6 blitz. Her serious expression, and intense concentration made for an interesting photograph. I spoke to her dad today and asked him if it would be okay to post the pictures I took yesterday.


When her dad saw my Marshall Chess Club hat, he mentioned that he was originally from Brooklyn, and wanted his daughter to meet Darrian Robinson. He wondered if I knew her, and could arrange for her daughter to meet her. Darrian was not playing in the blitz, but was watching her friends, so I managed to get her to meet Diamond, and pose for this picture below.

Darrian and Diamond

Today was the start of the main event. Here are players ready to start their first round. I guess the young man in the foreground was a little late getting to his board. It's quite the scene as players get settled in to start the first round. This is a shot of the main playing hall where 2nd - 12th grades are playing. Kindergarten and first grade play in a separate room. I hope to get to that room tomorrow for some more pictures.

In the picture below, are the top boards for the second and third grades. Who knows what's going through their minds at this point. I guess if you're the lower rated player it's pretty nerve wracking being on the top board.

Today was just the warm up with two rounds. The first couple of rounds tend to have some serious mismatches between top and bottom half. Tomorrow is when everything really starts to shake out. That's when you'll start to see some upsets, and you'll get an idea of which top seeds will survive the pressure of being the primary target, and those who will wilt from being under the gun. You'll also see the "Cinderellas" of the event, make their presence felt.

Josh is 2-0 in the 4th grade section. King Kong is also 2-0 in the 6th grade section. I'll be rooting for them, along with some of the other kids that have been smacking me senseless. Somehow it feels better to say "Hey that's a national champion who beat the daylights out of me."

My guys are in for dog fight. They're in 2nd place with 4.5 out of 6. The top dog is 6 out of 6. We're cool, because so much can happen tomorrow.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Greetings from Florida! K-12 Championships

I am here for the National K-12 Championships. I figured while I had some spare moments before the start of the main tournament, I'd post some pictures from yesterday's blitz. Since I was shooting with no flash and had the pushed the ISO to 1600 some of these pictures may not be of the best quality. My photographic journey is a work in progress. I will give updates as the weekend progresses.

Coronado Springs Resort

This place is huge. It's not your standard high rise hotel with all the rooms in one building. There is the main building with the convention center, and then 7 -8 buildings with guest rooms scattered all around the resort property. Two years ago I was staying #7, and it was about a 20 minute walk to get to the main building. They have large golf cart shuttles to take guests who would rather not walk to their building. It's easy to get lost if you're walking back at night. This year our team is in building one.

Start of the blitz tournament.
Two Sections: K-6 and K-12
Young speed demon. Hard to freeze the action with no flash.

What to do between rounds? Play more blitz! Did you have to ask?

Chess parent who has more colorful chess themed attire then me.
Tournament director in the Christmas spirit.
Josh Colas, NY
Gavin Mc Clanahan, IL

These two scored 8.5 out of 10 in the K-6. I'm not sure who won on tie-breaks. They were having some rather spirited bullet (1 minute) games afterward to break the tie themselves. I think they took turns winning the bullet games.

Note to my regular readers: If the name Josh seems familiar, that's because he's the same Josh who is frequent topic of conversation in my posts about getting crushed by little kids. Watch out him for him!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Beating Back Old Age With Chess

There have been numerous recommendations made regarding slowing down the effects of old age on the brain. Physical exercise, an active social life and mental stimulation have been shown to be helpful in slowing down the mental aging process. Crosswords, Suduko and other type puzzle games have become popular with the aging baby boomers. Chess is the ultimate brain teaser for those of us trying to keep the ole neurons firing.

As my regular readers know, I have more then my share of encounters with young chess playing kids. I've taken enough beatings at the hands of children almost young enough to be my grandchildren to last a life time. Though as long as I keep playing I will lose to more kids along the way. So what about the players who are old enough to be my mother or father? I don't run into them as much as the kids, but every once in awhile I get a reminder that chess is not only for the young.

A few weeks ago on Thursday night I played an 87 year old. He's from out Idaho, but you would never know it looking at his MSA. He played in all the big tournaments in the past year; North American Open, Foxwoods, US Senior, Chicago Open, National Open , World Open, US Open, and various tournaments at the Marshall. I've seen him around the Marshall on his visits to New York, but I had no idea how well travelled he was until I looked at his tournament records. I hope when I'm that age I'll still be alert enough and be able to afford to travel like that. He reminds me a bit of my dad who travelled and was sharp as a tack up until the day he died. My dad didn't play chess, but he still played a mean game of bridge in his 80s.

If you want to see proof that intellectual pursuits and challenges help slow down the affects of aging on the brain, just sit down across the chessboard from Mr. Mayers, and you will get plenty of proof. I found out the hard way. I have to admit looks can be deceiving. He uses a cane to walk, and he needs a magnifying glass to help him when he keeps score. One might think that needing a magnifying glass to help see his score sheet would be a big handicap in a fast time limit like game/30. Actually with the 5 second delay it becomes game/25. I thought if nothing else, I might be able to get a big edge on the clock. I've seen some of my older opponents implode in time pressure when I've had the edge on the clock. Ahhhh, but there's the kicker...."Edge on the clock". Something I lacked right up to the end. When I repeated the position I had 9 seconds to his 3 minutes and 6 seconds. He kept score right until the last move, despite not being required to do so.


We both missed wins in the game, so perhaps a draw was a fitting result.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My New Blog: Checkmate State by State

After my latest trip to Washington State, I decided it would be fun to keep track of all the states I've played in, my first game played, and give a little background about my initial tournament in each state. I'm borrowing from Ivan of Getting to 2000, who had compiled his list of states played. I've just taken the idea one step further by having my list serve as a travel journal as I try to make my way around the country playing in as many states as possible.

Some of the places I have vivid memories of the tournament and the people I met there. I guess that means I'm getting old. I can't remember why I went into the kitchen or where I put my reading glasses, but I can remember hitchhiking to my first tournament in Connecticut back in 1975. I can also remember driving in a blinding snow storm and ending out in a ditch on my way to another tournament in Connecticut. I was a little nuts back in those days.

I hope you will join me as I take my stroll down memory lane. Don't laugh too hard at some of the games I played back when I was an E player. Though I must admit, I've been getting some chuckles as I put these games into Chess Base, and let Fritz mess with them. Check out Checkmate State By State. If there are any oldtimers who may have played in any of the events I, mention feel free to leave your own recollections in the comments.

Fear not, I will still be making posts to this blog. My present chess trip is a never ending journey, and I have some interesting stuff that I'm working on.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Washington Wacky Wednesday!

When I play the two day schedule of a three day tournament I sometimes have difficulty making the transition from G/60 to 40/2 G/60. There are three factors that may come into play. 1.)I forget to slow down. 2.) I'm restless from the opponent's slow pace. 3.) I'm tired from the previous games. I think in this particular case it was a combination of numbers 2 and 3. I found myself getting restless when my opponent went into a deep think early on. Despite my relatively short round three game of 1 hour, 20 minutes as opposed to almost two hours for rounds one and two, I was a bit tired going into round four. I suppose I could play the jet lag card, and blame on the three hour time difference.


It was one of those games where I had trouble getting the queen bishop out quickly. Also I just totally ignored all the potential pins that became problematic at the end. Two hours was enough time to torment myself. I was in no mood to play out a position against a player who took over an hour on his first 17 moves.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Washington State Class - Day 2

My newest chess themed blouse makes its debut.

Despite my brutal Saturday, I managed to bounce back on Sunday a little bit. Not that I won any games on Sunday, but I didn't lose any either. I had two interesting draws. The two games were very different in terms of opponents and the final position.

My 5th round opponent was a kid from Victoria, BC. A number of Canadians from BC were playing in the event. They used his 1644 Canadian rating for pairing purposes. His USCF rating is 1581. With kids I tend to just ignore the rating, because no matter what it is they tend to be under rated. When he played the Maroczy Bind against my Accelerated Dragon, I'm thinking to myself, "Here we go again." Lately I've had some painful losses facing the Maroczy, so I wasn't thrilled to see 5. c4. He blundered a pawn early, but he handled the position very nicely. I think I probably played a little too cautiously, and traded down too much. I couldn't see any way to make progress since once we got down to queen and bishops of same color. All the pawns were on the same side, so when he offered the draw I accepted. Here's the game.


In round six I was paired against someone, who my lone adult opponent from round three described as "steady". I didn't even have to see the person to know that he was going to be one of those older players who's probably sitting on his floor, and plays a real solid positional type game. As luck would have it, even though I was due for White I would end out with a 4th Black. Despite being a tournament director, sometimes I don't understand the vagueries of the Swiss System that decides that a player that has had WBBWB gets his third white over the player who has had BWBWB. I'm not going to quote the rule, but if you're really interested go to page 144, and look at #4 under Pairing players due the same color. Go figure. I liked the old rule which is now #5, and the rule of last resort. Higher ranked player gets his due color. I would have gotten White under that rule.

It was one of those games where I was having trouble coming up with a decent plan. The game remained equal until around move 25. I got overly cautious again. I think I was playing not to lose, but that's usually the type of attitude that cause one to let the position get away. It really should have gotten away from me since he missed a couple of good shots that win pawns. When he offered the draw I happily accepted since I still thought I was slightly worse, and at a disadvantage on the clock.


Tomorrow look for my Wacky Wednesday, 2 hour 17 move loss from round 4.