Friday, February 6, 2009

Bermuda International: View From the Fish Bowl

I spent a lot of time blogging about the overall tournament and the battles for top dog. You can read the top dog's account here. (Check out the photo credits!) Now it's time to look at the tournament from the back of the room where I spent most of my time. I'm not sure what I was expecting from this tournament in terms of the competition and where I would be ranked in relation to the other players. Somehow I had the impression that I'd be pretty far down on the wall chart, and get paired up most of the time. In reality I was ranked around 33rd out of 50 players. As I mentioned in an earlier post I lost the first round, and drew in the second round.

As I mentioned in my round three report I got paired against Jacob Slepian of Cleveland. This game was very frustrating for me because I won an exchange on the 22nd move, but couldn't find a way to finish the job. Here is that game.


Endgame 101: Put your rook behind your passed pawn!

I'd have time to sleep on that one, but not before another nice dinner. At dinner, I did have to listen to a bit of needling on how I managed to only draw that game. Ahhhh, to be 14 years old with a 2050 rating. Sigh.

Need my morning tea for this 9:00 am 4th round game!
Photo by Larry Ebbins

Unfortunately blowing the win, left me way down in the standings, so I got paired down again. Being paired down in this tournament was deceptive though. A number of locals were playing in their first tournament. However instead of listing them as unrated they were given an estimated rating. My fourth round opponent was given an estimated rating of 1310. At the time I was not aware of the fact that this was only an estimated rating, and that he was playing in his first tournament. Estimated rating or not, I knew better then to take him lightly. He had already knocked off somebody close to me in rating.

We reached the following position after 31...Bc6.

I was not very happy with my position, and my Bc6 move was just a random move to see what he was going to do next. My bishops were blocked in by pawns, and the knight seemed to have a good square. I had considered trading, but didn't want deal with 32. dxc5 and the protected passed pawn. He played 32. Nxa4. I felt he was helping me out by trading his good knight for my crappy one on the edge. It's true that I have doubled a pawns after 32...bxa4. I didn't see that he'd really be able to take advantage of them since the position was so closed. The funny thing is Fritz had Nxa4 as its first choice. Perhaps there's no good way for White to utilize the c5 square, but I think if I were White I would have tried for play on the kingside with Nh2 and Ng4

The game continued 33. Rc1 Bb7 34. Rxc8 Bxc8 35. Qc2 Bd7 36. Qc5 Kg8. Once again he chooses to trade his outpost piece, and this trade undoubles my a pawns. 37. Qxb6 axb6 38. g4 g5 39. Bd2f6 40. Bc3 Kf7 41. exf6 Bxf6 42. Ne5+ Bxe5 I offered a draw, which he accepted. We're into opposite colored bishops and had been playing for almost four hours. Let's see.... I can have lunch with friends, or spend the next two hours trying to grind out this ending hoping my inexperienced opponent might mess up. Lunch or slightly worse endgame? Nothing much on the line. Lunch wins out.

Round 5, and I get paired down again against another local playing in his first tournament. Having seen how tough all my Bermudian opponents had played so far, I knew I couldn't take this guy lightly either. However that didn't prevent me from playing a series of horrendous moves, and pitching a pawn and the exchange. This was a case of not doing one last check of my move before making it. I hate when I reject a move as no good because it loses material, and then after analyzing a number of different moves, and end out playing the one I rejected earlier.


Fortunately for me, my opponent moved way too fast at one point. That one move gave me back everything, and set me up for a favorable ending. I thought I was going to be the gracious guest who gives her host a very nice gift. Instead my host gave me the gift. The win put me in the 4 way tie for 3rd under 1800.

Even though I was a little disappointed in my overall play, it was a very enjoyable tournament. The organization and hospitality was superb. If one wants to combine chess with some good socializing and an escape from winter this tournament can't be beat.

Even though Bermudian chess players lack the experience and opportunities that we have, they play some tough chess. What I found in my games is they play the openings well, and often play aggressively. Lack of tournament experience hurts. My last round opponent admitted to me that after winning the pawn and exchange, that he got a little overconfident. That probably played a big part in his overly hasty c6 move. Having blown my share of games due to lack of focus in winning positions, I can relate to what my opponent went through. As the old expression goes...."Never count your chickens, before they're hatched."

If all works out right, I plan to be back next year. These days I can't take anything for granted, but that's my plan. I'd like to bring one of those beautiful glass Bermuda longtails home. That would be a nice trophy to add to my collection.


Blue Devil Knight said...

I just finished reading through all of your Bermuda post. Great stuff! That sounds like so much fun, and you placed!

Polly said...

BDK: Thanks! It was a lot of work, and gave me a greater appreciation for those who blog on CLO during a major event. Downloading the pictures was painfully slow at times. Now maybe I have some time to catch up with all of my favorite bloggers.

chesstiger said...

In your round three game you played 25. Ba4 which is in my eyes a thinking mistake. The bishop has already moved twice while your rook on a1 is desperate for some action. So Rad1 was here the move.

Also after 25. Ba4 Nc5 you decide to trade bishops on c6. With other words you give away tempos since your bishop has moved 4 times while his bishop only once.

In your round 48 game i wonder why you not played 48. f5 ? I agree, 48. Kxe3 is also winning but f5 is so much more beautiful. :-)

Thanks for your Bermuda stories. They were a delight to read.

Polly said...

Tiger: I was looking to exchange since I was ahead. Perhaps trading bishops wasn't the best plan at that point. Maybe Rad1 attacking his knight and doubling on the d file was better.

In round 5, f5 is a very pretty move. I just went for brute force by taking his last pawn. I think I was so relieved to get out of that earlier mess I just decided to trade off his last pawn.

Anonymous said...


Will we see you at Amateur Team East this year?


Polly said...

Matt: Yes I'll be there with 2 of the usual suspects. I'm on board one this year. Ouch!