Thursday, June 4, 2009

NY State Woman's Championship - Rd. 2

Let's come up with a corny cliche as a subtitle to this particular post.

Don't judge a book by its cover.

Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing.

I guess you can see where this is going. I confess! I was deceived by appearance. I should have paid more attention to the fact that her last name had 11 letters in it, and only 2 of them were vowels. No need to buy a consonant with a name like Zlotchevsky. However I'm a sucker for cute little kids. What I did not know about her before the game was that she won the 8 and under at the Girl's Nationals in Dallas in April with a perfect 6-0 score.

Nicole Zlotchevsky
8 and Under Champion Girl's Nationals

She was the youngest player in the tournament. She was also the lowest rated which meant she got a bye for round one. She went home between rounds, so I never saw her before she appeared for our game. She was a little late, so naturally I was anxious over whether she was going to show up or change her mind about playing. Another player had shown after she left, but when given the choice between playing an 1800 or taking her 1 point bye she opted to take the bye. When she did show up she stood by the door and would not come in. I asked her if she was Nicole, and I introduced myself.

She did not come straight to the board. She disappeared with her parents, and I overheard bits of a discussion between her parents and the TD about keeping score. I'm thinking to myself, "Oh great here we go again! Somebody who does not want to keep score." It was nothing of the such. The score sheets that the club provides have narrow lines, so it's difficult for a young child with large print to keep score on a page like that. There are score books designed for the young scholastic player who writes big. Since she had not brought her own score sheets, her mom made her a score sheet on the back of a flier making big rows and columns. I must say I was quite impressed with her notation. She has neater notation then many adults I've played.

Finally we got down to the business of playing chess. I had White, and opened with 1. d4. After a rough spell of games opening 1. c4, I decided I would play around with 1. d4. The game started off nice and quiet. On the 18th move she opted to let her d pawn go, or so it appeared.

Position after 19. Qxd5

Sometimes I get into these thinking ruts. I look at one move, and after seeing it's not a problem I figure I'm okay. I took the "free" pawn on d4 thinking Nxf2 does not work. What I missed was 19...Nxc3. The combination is not all that good, but having not seen 19...Nxc3 I sort of became unglued at that point. How could this adorable little girl come up with this move; winning her pawn back, and destroying my queen side pawn structure??

Too bad I do not have Fritz running in my head. Fritz was not impressed with 19...Nxc3. It gives White + over = (0.63) after 20. bxc3 Rxe2 21. Rfe1 Re6 22. Rad1 Rb8 23. Qd8+ Kh7. Instead I came up with the totally stupid move of 20. Qd3??. She naturally played 20...Nxe2+. The funny thing was I did not notice that I was down a piece until about 2 moves later. I'm thinking to myself, "Wow she's got quite an attack going. Hey, wait a minute! Why does she have a bishop and a knight, and I only have a knight? Where did my bishop go??" It was then that it occurred to me that since I did not play bxc3, I never took her knight. Duh!!

After the realization that I had blundered a piece, I just mentally lost it. Sometimes I can bounce back after losing material. In fact on Sunday I would do that very thing in the last round. In this game I could not get over the blunder. I suppose part of it was she had a very strong attack going in addition to the material edge. What ever it was I just made a series of bad moves and got my queen trapped. At that point I decided I had enough. Here's the game. I should have posted it on Wednesday. It was Wacky Wednesday worthy.


Afterward I spoke to her father who then told me she was working with Ilya Figler and had won the 8 and under in Dallas at the Girl's Nationals in April. Small consolation for my major implosion. I suppose if there is a bright side at least I can say "I lost to a national champion."


chesstiger said...

She plays well for her age. I am sure that if she keeps playing chess she will be a name we will hear of in the future.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Holy cow that is intense. If the consonant to vowel ratio is greater than 10, they probably are good at chess.

I often have the experience (on both sides) of mistakes coming in avalanches. I make one mistake, and then get all flustered, and then they just start coming at a higher rate. Recently I've been a little better about calming down and trying to make them earn the point.

es_trick said...

I did a similar thing in the most recent event I played in. My opponent 'sacrificed' a bishop around move 8, but got it back a couple moves later with a pawn fork of two of my pieces.

I forgot that he had already given up a piece, and played the rest of the game in desperation mode, thinking that I was down a piece when I wasn't.

When I got home and played over the game, I was horrified to discover that if I had kept my wits about me, my position was still better than his, even after giving the piece back, and that there was no need to have started making desperado attacks.

wang said...

"I should have paid more attention to the fact that her last name had 11 letters in it, and only 2 of them were vowels."

I died when I read this Polly. Yes in the Tri-state area you have to be wary of thses folks, although the kids are dangerous, be very wary of older gentlemen with no rating at all. That is sadness waiting to happen if you don't play your best.

I did something similar awhile back, except I was up a piece and it took me 4 moves before I realized it :D

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth Vicary seems to think

Polly said...

Tiger: I think if she continues to work on her game, and plays more tournaments like this she'll improve quickly. NYC area kids have that advanatge. Lots of excellent teachers, and lots of strong tournaments to choose from. Kids don't have to leave NYC to get the chance to play players who out rate them by 200+ points. Just show up for any open tournament at the Marshall.

BDK & ES: Staying calm in the face of adversity over the board can be very difficult at times. So many factors come into play. I think I was just mentally fried after having squeeze every little ounce of energy and thought to win that ending in the previous round against a much lower rated opponent.

Wang: I've lost to my share of old guys. They have the patience that sometimes kids lack.

Anon: Elizabeth Vicary thinks.....? Or do I need to go to her blog and find out?

linuxguy said...

Needless to say, I too was lmao when I saw that pic and read that intro. Great pic and description!

Wow, you were trying to play this game very fine, worrying about pawn structure innuendos.

It seems like you got down on yourself for taking the pawn. I didn't follow your attack at first, but it was high class up til your first blunder. Her ..d5! was right on, though.

I would take that position as White after ...Nxc,bxN...RxB, then you could play Rfe1 for example RxR RxR Be6 Qxb and you are up a pawn at least, it seems.

Point being, either way, no matter how she plays it, you could exploit her disjointed development and back-rank still undeveloped. She should not have played a tricky trade like that, and got her development off-kilter, but it probably threw you off because you are more used to "trusting" higher-rated players.

Your notes are really good.

Against her rating, I think piece development issues were the big-thing more than fine points like pawn-structure.

If you get caught up thinking of them as little Russian geniuses, it will mess with your confidence, which directly affects results; you are clearly the better player, IMHO.

If you had wanted to, I think you could have played without the e4 strategy and let her come at you first more. Like Tigran Petrosian once said something like "I try to allow my opponent to come up with a plan, after all it's sure to be a bad one." ;-)