Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wacky Wednesday! Westfield Quads

After my recent disasters at the Marshall Chess Club, I decided a little change of scenery and format would be good for me. The Westfield Chess Club (New Jersey) meets every Sunday afternoon at the Westfield YMCA. Several times a month they run quads. They've been running these quads for many years. They are very popular, and tend to draw around 40 to 50 players.

I like the quad format because it's a 4 player round robin with opponents close in rating. One doesn't get the extreme pairings that are typical in an open Swiss. I couldn't complain about the rating distribution in my quad. 1705, 1700, 1700, 1651. I also managed to avoid having any kids in my quad. That was the good news. The bad news was I played horrendously in round one and walked into mate on the 31st move. Believe it or not, that's not even the designated Wacky Wednesday game. It was too long to qualify.

Round two was an interesting game. I was up two pawns, but black got play for them. This is the final position after Black played 42... Qc2. The question facing White "Is Black's exchange sacrifice sound?" Unfortunately I ran out of time trying to find the answer.

Accepting the sacrifice allows Black to force a draw. 43. Bxe2 Rxe2 44. Kf1 Rh2 45. R3d2 Rh1+ 46. Kf2 (Not 47. Kg2?? Mate in 7 for Black. Highlight text between the brackets for the answer. [46. Kg2 Qe4+47. Kf2 Qxf4+ 48. Ke2 Qe4+ 49. Kf2 Rh2+ 50. Kg3 Qe5+ 51. Kf3 d4+ 52. c6 Bxc6# ]) 46...Rh2+ 47. Kf1 Rh1+

White's best plan is 43. Qg3 Re1+ 44. Rxe1 Rxe1+ 45. Qxe1 Qxd3 46. Bg2. White is up two pawns and Black's atack has run out of steam.

Interesting position, but not the wackiest thing of the day. That came in round three. I guess winning the toss was a sign that perhaps things might turn around for me. I was 0-2, so things couldn't get much worse for me. The inner pessimist is asking herself "What's the worst that can happen now? I can lose again and end out 0-3." When my rating can't go any lower, I don't sweat 0-3 versus 1-2. Though after a long afternoon of chess, ending with a win would be a nice way to finish. My opponent was very accommodating on his part.

This game was painfully quick for my opponent.


When I played 17. Qh7+ my opponent suddenly realized what he had overlooked. It was nice to be on the giving end for a change. Lately, I've had too many games end in such an abrupt manner with me having the "OMG what was I thinking?" moment.


Anonymous said...

If you did not have a floor rating, what do you think your real rating would be? 1400?

Polly said...

Somewhere between 1500 and 1600. Probably if I stopped playing fast time controls, I might actually play closer to my 1700 rating.

chesstiger said...

I never understood this floor thing in americain (USCF?) ratings. I must say that i find it a bad idea because now a player can win all his games against 1700 players who could all be overrated because they just have 1700 because it's their floor. With other words, the player winning against them will be overrated aswell. So i wonder if anybody has a normal, to his (real) strenght rating?

I think your bad play is because of your bad thinking proces. Maybe take a look at it and try to solve it. Who knows but perhaps doing the Silman thinking proces can cure your losses.

denopac said...

The idea behind the floor is to prevent people who once had high ratings from dropping down in class to the point where they can clean up. The class prizes in a lot of US tournaments are large enough to encourage this. I agree though that in practice it has had unintended consequences; i.e. an inflationary effect. However this is somewhat counterbalanced by the deflationary effect of rapidly improving kids vacuuming up ratings points on their way up the ladder. Play a kid and a "floored" adult and it all balances out ;-)

Polly said...

The rating floors have been argued back and forth ever since they were first put in back in the late 80s. As Denopac pointed out, they were put in to discourage sandbagging. When they were first put in place it was only a 100 point drop from one's peak rating. So if one's peak rating was 1945 then their floor was 1845. That was extremely inflationary so they changed it to drop 100+ to the next 100. That way a 1945 peak would be able to drop to 1800. Even that was too inflationary so then they added another 100 points so the 1945 peak could drop to 1700.

Even though some players may pick up extra points for beating over rated players on their floor, I think in the long run it evens out. If somebody gains a bunch of points beating floored players they will inevitably lose those points when playing people who are more true to their strength.

Maybe in 100 games a player might play 20 people who are sitting on their floor. Will they beat the all of the floored players? In that same 100 games they may play 20 kids that are 200 points lower then their real strength. Will they lose all of those games? Maybe the remaining 60 games are against players whose rating is an accurate reflection of their playing strength. I think in the long run it's all going to even out.

There are numerous rating discussions that occur on the USCF Issues forums (Have to be a member to access them). Reading what all the math geeks have to say can give you a major headache. They seem to agree that the ratings are still are slightly deflationary. They keep tinkering with the system, and who knows if they'll ever get it 100%.

The rapidly improving kids make the numbers pretty meaningless. I played a kid over the weekend whose published rating for February was 1489. His March rating will be 1675. He gained all those points in one tournament. Since that tournament his rating has gone up to 1750. When I played him he was actually already higher rated then me.

Ratings are supposed to be an indicator of future performance, but they don't always work that way.

wang said...

I always liked playing at Westfield. They used to run a one game a week tourney a few years back, good place to play.

wang said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Polly said...

Wang: It appears they don't do the one game a week events anymore except maybe their club championship is run that way. They have the quads, quick chess and blitz tournaments.

The club I run on Monday nights I would offer one game a week events because certain players would tell me they don't like game/30. Hardly anyone would show up for the one game a week events. Now I end out running mostly game/30 events with 3 rounds in an evening.