As I mentioned in an earlier post, the National Open did not get off to a terrific start. Losing the first round is not the end of the world. (You can see the game here.) In a 6 round tournament there is time to recover. Unfortunately my saying the tournament did not get off to a terrific start is a gross understatement. Miserable is a nice clean family friendly adjective that more accurately describes the start of my tournament.
When playing in a tournament with sections by rating class there is really no such thing as getting paired way up or way down. Even if you are number one in the under 1800 section at 1799 the chances that you will play anyone lower then 1600 is not very likely. Since there are pretty big class prizes, you just don't see as many people playing up a section. (The co-champions in my section each won $2901. That's a nice way to leave Vegas!) Out of the 150 players in my section only nine of them were under 1600. Of those nine players only one of them was under 1400. I did not play anyone under 1600.
My problem is every game feels like I'm playing up even when the opponent's rating is lower then mine. That's what happens when I am sitting on my floor, but not playing like I'm 1700. So what's the worst thing that could happen to me in round two? Nope, I did not have to play a cute little girl with 11 consonants in her name. The cute little girls were all playing in the Polgar tournament going on at the same time. However I did have to play a little kid. How little? He just turned eight in the last few weeks, and was listed at #2 on the June: 7 and under list. But as the line from an old Who song goes...."Won't be fooled again", or so I thought.
What do you do when you are playing Black against an eight year old who has a rating of 1651?
a. Play a solid and quiet line, and bore the kid to death.
b. Play something wild and complicated and get him out of book ASAP.
c. None of the above
d. All of the above.
I would say it ended out more along the lines of choice d. Though he was the one playing the quiet line against my Accelerated Dragon. In the opening he wasted a few moves, but I did not really come up with a way to take advantage of it outside of getting in 8...d5 without playing e6 first. If anyone was watching they probably would have found the off the board moves more interesting.
How many seven or eight year old kids do you know that can sit quietly for any extended amount of time? What happens when you give a kid that age an expensive chess toy like an Mon Roi? What happens when you match a kid like that against an adult who can not sit still for extended periods of time and also has an expensive chess toy like the Mon Roi? You probably feel sorry for the people sitting next to them.
Early on he was fiddling with his Mon Roi and pulling the SD card out and putting it back in. I'm not sure if he knew what the card was for, but he was having fun playing with it for awhile. I was going to suggest that he not do it, but then he stopped. Later on he was tapping his stylus on the unit, and again I was about to say something, but noticed I was tapping my stylus on the table. How can I say anything when I'm doing the exact same thing? (The picture below was taken during another round.)
I change positions in my chair a lot. I often get up and kneel on the chair and lean over the board a little bit to change how I'm viewing the position. At one point during the game, I assumed that position. I happened to have looked up and noticed my opponent was sitting the exact same way. He even had his head propped up on his hands the same way I did. It almost looked like he was playing copy cat with me. More likely he was sitting like that because it is easier for a little kid to see the board that way.
He only left the board once around the 17th move. It was actually his move and he suddenly got up and ran out of the room. Was my move that scary? In big money tournaments it's easy to look at something like that and wonder to yourself "Why did he suddenly leave the board on his move? What is he up to?" The first question briefly crossed my mind, but I reminded myself that I was playing a little kid. When Mother Nature calls it doesn't matter whose move it is. The call must be answered. It was probably a wise thing not to rush a move first.
Here is the game.
In the later stages of the game as he was mounting his attack, I witnessed the funniest case of fidgety kid syndrome I've seen. He would make a move, get up from his seat, take a few steps back, do 5 jumping jacks and then sit down. Fortunately there were not many games going on around us at this point, so I don't think he was really bothering anyone. Was he bothering me? Not really. Was he doing it to annoy me? No. I just think he was letting off nervous energy after playing for over an hour and half. (Time limit was G/60) I found it rather amusing that this kid is getting up and doing jumping jacks between moves. I've often thought that I should have kids in my after school chess classes do 30 jumping jacks before the lesson to blow off some of that excess energy they have at the end of the school day.
I think he was a little surprised when I resigned when I did. I'm sure he used to playing almost all his games down to checkmate. I was little hasty in my resignation, but not having seen 45...Qc7 I thought I was dead right then. Even if I played on, either the 15 minute time deficit would do me in or the two connected passed pawns. Pick your poison!
He helped me clean up my set, and then he took off to find his parents. Unlike many of the kids I've encountered at other tournaments, he didn't have constant stream of parents and coaches hovering over him. His mother brought him to the board at the start of the game and left. When the game was done he did come back into the room with his dad to post the result. I had already taken care of it so I walked out with them and get an opportunity to talk to the parents about how well he played.
I asked his mom how old he was. She said he had just turned eight a few weeks earlier. I think he's now the youngest player who has beaten me. I've played a few kids younger then that, but I won. She said sometimes he has trouble staying focused. I told her that for the most part he was focused though he would sometimes be staring off into space on his move. Sometimes when he did that I had to make sure he had not moved, and just forgot to press the clock. I said he was focused when it counted. I mentioned how impressed I was that he didn't wander away from the board, except the one trip to the bathroom on his move. She said they have emphasized to him the importance of ethical behavior and not doing things that would be questionable. It's nice to hear parents talk about that kind stuff with their kids.
I would see him through out the rest of the tournament. I was really impressed how he handled the long time controls. I think he spent more time in his seat then I did in mine. In the last round he was seated next to me. His opponent showed up about a half hour late. Winston was out of the room when the opponent arrived. The opponent did a little double take when this little kid comes and sits down across from him. I don't think he was expecting such an opponent. Like me, he also lost to the youngster. It will be interesting to see where he is by next year. Probably not in my section unless I play up, or by some miracle get my rating over 1800.