Saturday, January 24, 2009

Liberty Bell Open: Part 1

I'm still catching my breath from a very interesting weekend of chess. I didn't get much time to hang out in my room, so I decided I wasn't paying $9.95 for what would have amounted to maybe an hour's worth of time online. The Internet functioned fine without me. The chess blogosphere went on without my comments and insights. The USCF Forums had enough rational people to respond to the irrational people, so they didn't miss me there either. Truth be told, I didn't miss a thing.

This year's report on the Liberty Bell is different because I'm not blogging live. I've had time to gather my thoughts together in order to share the highs and lows, the serious and not so serious. The short version is I scored 2 wins, 1 loss and 4 draws in the under 1900 section and gained 19 rating points. (Note: I proceeded to give back the 19 points on Thursday night, but that's another story.) The way I started off the tournament I really didn't expect to get a plus score. In fact after the first game I wasn't sure I'd get any score.

Round 1: What's in a name?

In round one I was paired against a player with the name of Broxie Pace, rated 1775. Broxie! What an interesting first name. Is it short for something? Is this a kid with a set of 60s parents who decided to give their child some funky name? A brash kid with moxie, therefore named Broxie? Nope, not a kid. The kids would come later. After all, when don't I play kids? He's a local player who is probably older then me. I'm not going to venture any guesses though. I've never across him before, but he's played in a lot of the big tournaments in Philly such as the World Open and the National Chess Congress.

In preparing to write this story I was curious as to when he started playing. His first tournament was the 1993 World Open and he played in the Open section. That's quite an ambitious foray into tournament chess. He ended out with a rating of 1696 based on his 9 games. In looking at the cross table for the event I wanted to see who he played. If you click on a player's final ranking you get a list of all of the opponents with the results and pre and post ratings. I noticed that one of the players he lost to was an unrated named John Von Neumann. That name seemed very familiar, and then I remembered why. (For math geeks the name John Von Neumann should strike a chord.) He had caused quite a stir at that tournament when it became apparent that he was getting some sort of assistance via computer. This article from Chess Base tells the story far better then I can. Poor Broxie was one of the unfortunate people that "John Von Neuman" was able to beat.

However I will not wax poetic and mourn over his misfortune from 15 years ago, especially considering what a pounding I got from him. Though part of the pounding was my own damn fault. Once again I allowed myself to be overly intimidated by a sac that wasn't as deadly as it seemed. Here is the damage.


Round Two: Bye Bye, Bye!

Having lost round one, I was already having to deal with the annoying prospect of the "Please Wait" in round two. I was the second lowest rated in the two day schedule, and we had an odd number. I considered taking a preemptive round four bye to avoid getting a bye in round two. Round four was the last game of the fast time control before merging into the slower schedule. Considering how many implosions I've had going into the last round of the first day, it might have been a good idea. However the chess addict in me wanted to play all seven rounds. I figured I'd take my chances with getting a game from a bye player in another section. It almost blew up in my face.

I hadn't noticed the pairings for the Under 1700 section so I thought the only other player with a bye was an 1100 in the under 1500 section. I wanted to play someone closer to me in rating. One of the tournament directors misunderstood me, and thought I didn't want to play the player in the Under 1700 section who got the bye. He told her I didn't want to play. In the meantime I'm trying to find someone who was hanging around and might want to play as a house player against me. Then I found out about the player in the under 1700 section who was also looking for a game. She and her dad were playing in the under 1700 section. I asked her dad where she was. He wasn't sure. Either on the mezzanine or balcony level.

It became a game of cat and mouse. I think we kept missing each other. I'd be upstairs, and she'd be downstairs or visa-versa. Finally one of the NYC parents I know told me she just went upstairs. I dashed up the escalator, hoping to catch her before somebody told her I was downstairs. We finally found each other and got to play. Since she was being moved into my section for the round, she got to keep her bye point regardless of what happened in the game. If I lost the game then I would be out the point. I didn't really care. I seriously didn't think having the full point would make much difference if I did end out losing or drawing.

Alice and I have played each other three times at the Marshall Chess Club. I'm 2-1 against her. The games I won against her have been tight, but the clock has been a factor each time. Since we started late we had to deduct an extra five minutes from each side. She was totally outplaying me and won a pawn. Then she hung a piece. It still wasn't going to be easy for me since she got a second pawn for the piece and it was down on my third rank. I hung the piece right back several moves later. We reached this position. I'm down a pawn.

I'm not sure what I played at this point. I think I may have played either Rb4 0r Ke2. I offered a draw which she took. She had a minute and a half. I had 30 seconds. I was surprised she took the draw. Afterwards she admitted afterwards that she was nervous about the clock. Considering how we both blundered away pieces perhaps a draw was the correct result. Note to my end game fan readers: Feel free to offer some analysis. If time is not a factor can Black convert this?

Round Three: $80 down the toilet. (Not my $80)

This tournament wasn't getting off to the smoothest start. Getting smashed in the first round and eking out a draw in the second round doesn't have the makings of a good tournament. However things could have been worse. I could have been like my third round opponent. He started off .5 -1.5 in the three day schedule, and decided to re-enter the two day schedule. He started off the two day schedule 0-2. That's not the results one wants when he pays another $80 to re-enter. (Don't get me started on re-entries. Waste of money!!) I guess the 0-2 explains why he refused my draw after after 38...Qxd4+ to reach this position.

We fiddled around with our queens for another 13 moves and then he finally accepted my second draw offer. I try not to make a second draw offer before my opponent has made one of his own. Repeated draw offers though technically not against the rules are annoying. In this case the position was going nowhere. I figured 13 moves after my first draw offer, I was justified in making a second draw offer. At that point he accepted the draw.

I still had two more rounds to play on this first day. If you thought all of that was fun. Wait until you see what happened next. Stay tuned for part two.


chesstiger said...

Repeated draw offers are against the rules i believe, it falls under harrasing the opponent i believe, not?

But, in this case, thirteen moves are between the drawoffers so one can not speak of repeated draw offers.

I hope part two shows us some beautiful chess games which Polly has won or atleast is pleased with the result of the game(s). -

denopac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
denopac said...

Ouch, game 1 was painful. I would have played the first six moves pretty much as you did so I went to chessgames to see how strong players handle the black side after 7. h4. Here's a nice example from GM Pablo Ricardi from Argentina:

Anonymous said...

"Broxie" was not on the few baby name websites I checked, although I do know it's also used as a female name.

Re-entry, I've never really understood why someone would plop the extra money. If it keeps more people playing in later rounds, though, why not.

likesforests said...

7...O-O is the first move that sets of my "I wouldn't play that" alarm. Why not 7...Nh5 right away when you force the trade of his bishop pair and only then thinking about castling?

The 9.Bxh7+ sac looks very scary if you didn't spot ...Kg6. My question to you then isn't why you missed ...Kg6, but why you didn't see 9.Bxh7+ ahead of time? It was a CHECK and CAPTURE, should definitely be one of the principle variations you calculated for your opponent before you played 8...Nh5. And if you had seen it you might have chosen a move that didn't allow it like 8...h6.

Polly said...

Like: Those are excellent questions. I think I had considered the immediate Nh5, but I think I was in the "complete development stage" and felt I should castle before moving the knight again. Sometimes I think telling kids over and over again to "castle early and complete their development before moving a piece" again causes me to break the rule when necessary.

I think I didn't consider Bxh7 as a problem because the king is guarding h7. However it should have been given more consideration since it's very similar to the idea of Bxf7+ after black plays Bg4. Same idea of drawing the king out giving a check with the knight and exposing the black piece blocked by the knight to capture by the queen.

Often in short time limits it's easy to play on auto pilot to try to save time early. This can blow up in one's face when a tactic arises in the opening.

denopac said...

People, a Grandmaster played 7 ... 0-0 in the exact position... it's not a bad move. Polly's problem in this game was ignoring the center. Look at the Ricardi game, please.

likesforests said...

likesforests: '7...O-O is the first move that sets of my "I wouldn't play that" alarm. Why not 7...Nh5 right away when you force the trade of his bishop pair and only then thinking about castling?'

denopac: 'People, a Granmaster played 7 ... 0-0 in the exact position... it's not a bad move.'

That doesn't follow. GMs make mistakes just like you and me. Also, they may have a different reason for playing the same move. I mean to say that what a GM plays is worth analysis, but you should not advocate nor dismiss a move on that basis alone as you do above. Or we would all be playing 1.e4 a6 because Miles played it and won against Karpov! ;)

To my eye it's clear 7...Nh5 is more accurate than 7...O-O 8.h4 Nh5. What's interesting is whether 7...Nh5 is better than 7...O-O in general. Since I don't play these lines, I don't know. I have four annotated games from the position after 7.Bd3 and GM Prie and GM Summerscale both prefer White even before Black's seventh move. They refer to Black's setup as passive.

Prie writes, "7.O-O? - Castling into it! The idea of castling is to put your king into safety, not into the frying pan!" But Ricardi does ok with 7...O-O in that one game. Food for thought!

Polly said...

Denopac: I looked at the Ricardi game. The major difference is Black did not play Nh5. 7...0-0 is a reasonable move, but if it's going to be followed with Nh5. I agree with Like if I'm going to play Nh5 it should have come before castling.

I've been having having some difficulty playing the Black side of positions like this one. I much prefer it when White plays d4 c4 Nc3 allowing me to go into the Nimzo_indian.

denopac said...

Polly, Likes,

I'm not persuaded that sticking the knight offside is better than play in the center. Perhaps one day we can discuss this over the board :-).