Friday, May 29, 2009

Rd. 4 Lost In Translation - Part 1

After getting slapped around by a high school kid in round three, I had to play a nine year old with a 1778 rating in round four. He had gotten paired up in his first three rounds. I was his first "down pairing". He started off with a queen side castle on the wall chart. 0-0-0. I had managed to avoid the same fate with with my first round draw.

This was my first round in the merged schedules with the 40/2, G/60 time limit. This is the part that's sometimes difficult for me to slow down. I can get kind of antsy when the opponent is going into deep thinks on every move. I was getting antsy because he was staring off into space on his move. He looked either tired or bored, it was hard to say. Even in the opening he'd be staring into space or fiddling with his watch on his time. After awhile he kept getting up and leaving the board when it was my move. Every time I'd look up he'd be hanging around with this one kid, and talking in the playing room. They'd go over and look a friend's game and continue their conversation over there. I'm sure they weren't discussing our game. I have no idea who the other kid even was. He may have been playing in the scholastic tournament that was being on Sunday also.

This type of behavior by kids, especially higher rated kids who should know better just bothers the hell out of me. Parents and coaches should be constantly reminding their children and students to take the game seriously and not be using the opponent's thinking time to run around the playing room and socializing with other kids.

As I left the room at once point to go get water, the two of them are having a conversation. I did not raise my voice, but I did tell the kids that is was inappropriate to be having conversations in the playing room. I also told the kibitzer that he was doing his friend no favors by talking to him while he's in the middle of a game. I guess I should watch my use of idioms such as "doing one no favors" when speaking to a kid whose first language is not English.

I guess this got interpreted as doing a favor by helping his friend in giving moves. I certainly didn't think the kids were cheating. If I thought that I would have gone straight to the tournament director. The inner coach was coming out and saying, "Stop talking to your friends, and go play your chess game." If he had been one of my students, I would be very upset with him for not being at the board staying focused on the game.

I also feel it's important for a player not give appearance of unethical behavior. One could be discussing the weather or what happened in last night's baseball game, but in the midst of a tournament the opponent may be thinking the worst. For all the opponent knows, the player might be saying to his higher rated buddy "I just played my knight to e5, what should I do if he attacks it with Bd6?" I've been guilty of chit chatting with friends in the playing room and having an overly concerned opponent check up on me.

The kid had been away from the board for awhile, and when I went to go to the bathroom I see the kid with his mother. She starts screaming at me for yelling at her kid. I told her I did not yell at him, but told him he should not be talking to friends during his game. I also didn't feel he should be going out and talking to his mom during the round. I didn't want to tell her that if he's going to play with adults he needs to act like an adult, and not running off to mommy if he doesn't like what his opponent said to him. (The tournament director told me later that he essentially said that exact thing to the mother, though in a nice way.) Some things are best unsaid in the heat of the moment. At this point I decided I would let the tournament director deal with it. He told the kid to get back into the playing room, and play the game. He told the mother and me to stop the arguing because he couldn't make any judgment on what was said. I was really pissed off at that point, but went back into the room. As I went back into the room, another mother whose son is friends with the kid said, "You were absolutely right." I thanked her and went back to play.

Sometimes I think it would be better if I just kept my mouth shut. However it just irks the hell out of me when these kids just think it's okay to have non-stop conversations with their buddies, parents and whoever else they decide to speak with. Maybe it's a California thing. Everybody seems to seem it's okay to hang out with friends and talk in the playing room between moves. My editorial comments on the subject will come later.

After the TD told him to go to the board and play, he became super focused. It was a really interesting game. If anyone tells you kids are all tactics and no endgame, don't listen. These days kids are more diversified, and they know a lot more about endgames then you think. I felt like I went wrong when I traded queens, but when I analyzed with Fritz later it still had me equal. Here are a few of the key positions in the ending.

In this position I played 49...d5. What followed was 50. exd5 Rxd5 51. Rd2 Kd6 52. Rxd5+ Kxd5 53. Kd3 e5

I felt I should have not allowed the rook trade, and instead play 49... a5 50. Rc4 h5. Keeping the rooks on the board makes it difficult for either side to make much progress, however the rook trade was not the losing move. After White's move 54. f3 we reached this position.

54...h5 was probably my best try, but instead I played 54...f5. 55. a4 h6? 55...h5 is still the best move here. Possible continuation would be 55... h5 56. g5 h457. Kc3 e4 58. fxe4+ fxe4 59. a5 e3 60. Kd3 e2 61. Kxe2 Kc4 62. Kf3 Kxb4 63.Ke4 Kxa5 64. Ke5 Kb4 65. Kf6 a5 66. Kxg6 a4 67. Kh5 a3 68. g6 a2 69. g7 a1=Q70. g8=Q Qd4 71. Qg4 Qxg4+ 72. Kxg4 Kc5 73. Kxh4 Kd6 74. Kg5 Ke7 75. Kg6 Kf8 76. h4 Kh8 77. h5 Kh8 78. h6 Kh8. Reaching this position which is typical rook pawn drawn ending.

Unfortunately the game went this way instead. 56. h4 fxg4 57. fxg4 g5 58. hxg5 hxg5 59. b5 axb5 60.axb5 e4+ 61. Ke3 Kc5 62. Kxe4 Kxb5 63. Kf5 Kc5 64. Kxg5 Kd6 65. Kh6 Ke6 66. g5 Kf7 67. Kh7 to reach this position. Sames pieces as above, but significant difference since Black can not prevent White from queening the g pawn.

Once he played 67. Kh7 it was very clear to me that he knew how to win this ending. 9 year old kids don't get to high 1700s without knowing how to promote in this position and execute the queen and king checkmate. It's forced mate in 10. At this point I decided to take the graceful way out, and resign. I could have been a schmuck and played out to mate. However I just think it's insulting the opponent's intelligence, especially with lots of time on the clock. I think he was surprised I resigned. I'm sure anyone he's played in a scholastic tournament would have played out hoping for stalemate or a gross blunder of hanging the queen.


Aziridine said...

I would suggest 49...h5 as a slight refinement - why help White create an outside passed pawn?

Anonymous said...

You are rapidly gaining a reputation as a cranky chess lady. If you had an issue with a player you should see a TD. You are constantly complaining about the behavior of young players and then seem to deal with them inappropriately. Do older players at the Marshall behave much better?If a player chooses to spend their time away from the board, thats their business, Your "inner coach" is just a sense of moral righteousness that is misplaced

Polly said...

Azir: I did not handle the play of my kingside pawns well. I missed several opportunities to play h5. Having it come down to a lone h pawn would have given me better drawing chances.

Anon: Is that so? Perhaps I have that reputation amongst the few anonymous posters that disagree with me, but who won't sign their name.

However that's not what I hear from the people who I meet, or the people who have left comments agreeing with what I wrote. On a number of the incidents that I've posted here, I've actually had the parents thank me for talking to their child about their actions.

In the last two years I have played over 800 tournament games. Probably anywhere from 30% to 40% of my opponents have been under the age of 18. Most of those youngsters are well behaved.

Are the older players at the Marshall any better behaved? No I've seen adults act like bigger babies then some of the children. A number of adult players tend handle losing far worse then the kids. The raw emotions of a young kid crying after a hard loss, is easier to take then the guy who pushes the pieces off the board, curse or tells the opponent he was just lucky.

In regards to calling over a TD. Suppose your opponent is doing something annoying like adjusting the pieces on your move, drumming his fingers on the table, not keeping score, making excessive draw offers, or something else that is either a breach of etiquette or not following the rules?

Do you call the director right away or do you nicely ask your opponent not to do that particular thing? I think most players will talk to the opponent first. Quite often the polite request resolves the problem and the TD does not need to get involved. Sometimes when a TD is called in then things gets unpleasant.

Maybe in this situation I should have told the tournament director "these kids keep coming in and out of the room talking to each other. could you please tell them that's not a good idea."

I said something, because too often these casual conversations get misconstrued for something they're not. At the scholastic nationals I've seen players get penalized for these types of conversations with friends. I hear coaches and parents talk about "So and so is constantly going to the bathroom, or is always talking to his teammates." Over zealous much ado about nothing? Perhaps. Real cheating? Perhaps. People assume the worst.

Any team I've gone to states or nationals with I tell them the same thing. "Don't talk to each other or to other players during the game. Concentrate on your own game, and not be watching everyone else. Don't do anything that could be misinterpreted."

I don't see my inner coach trying to be morally righteous. I'm just trying to make kids aware how their actions can be seen. I don't like to see kids get in trouble when it can be avoided.

I meant well, but perhaps I should not have said anything in this case. I wasn't in my neck of the woods, and I'm not their coach or a TD that they know. Some of these kids have not played outside Southern California. Perhaps out there it's normal for people to be constantly talking to people in and out of the playing room. Some of the adults were just as bad.

Maybe Matt or Saul can enlighten me on the Southern California chess tournament vibe. Every time I come out there, it seems to get more casual.

Matt Hayes said...

I don't really have any places to compare kids in SoCal with, except for England. I'd say that the kids playing chess in England were certainly better behaved than a number I have seen in California.

Regarding your incident with Physcho Mom and her kid, you were quite within your rights to say something to him. I DO think you probably should have spoken to the TD first but, on the other hand, that makes it seem like an official complaint and then things can get blown out of proportion. Which is exactly what happened with Psycho Mom reported you to the TD for upsetting her bundle of joy.

I agree that if a kid wants to play in an adult tournament he/she needs to try to act like an adult. In between rounds they can do what kids do (as long as it's not disrupting other players in the playing hall) but, in the middle of a game, there are ways of behaving that are acceptable and good manners, and ways that are not.

At least we didn't have to contend with AK this year, Polly!

Polly said...

Matt: AK would have been easier to deal with. He mellowed out after one of his opponents told him knock off the piece and clock slamming. Being a little older, he probably is aware that if the opponent asks him to knock off the crap, he will.

Blue Devil Knight said...

"He started off with a queenside castle on the wall chart. 0-0-0. I had managed to avoid the same fate with with my first round draw."

Hee hee, I have never seen that :)

It drives me nuts when people kibitz in the main playing room. I want to freaking strangle them. In my previous tournament, the guy next to me had finished (winning) early. Then he and someone else started kibitzing about the game. I shot them dirty looks, and I think they got the point, but if it hadn't stopped I would have talked to them first before going to the TD, just like you did.

I would think children would be good at this. Don't they have to sit quietly in school?

Polly said...

BDK: People tend to think that they whisper quietly enough so it's okay for them to analyze their game in the playing room. Nobody whispers that softly. Usually a "shhhh", or "please go to the other room" works, but there's always someone ignores the polite approach. What I find amusing is the guy who's upset by the noise loudly saying "shut up!", and making more noise then the people whispering.

You obviously have not been in an elementary school lately. Children sit quietly?? LOL By the time after school clubs start in the afternoon kids are bouncing off the walls.