Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Doggone Chess Analogy

Yesterday before I went down to New York City, I took about a one hour walk. Often when I go out for walks I pass houses with dogs out on the front lawn. Sometimes they're big dogs and sometimes they're little dogs. No matter what the size, they always bark like crazy when I walk by. They are defending their turf. Fortunately for me, most people have "Invisible Fences" so the dogs will not be coming after me, and taking a bite out of my calf.

Yesterday I walked past one house that had a big yellow Labrador retriever out front. As soon as he saw me he started barking. Labs are wonderful dogs. My parents had one when I was in high school, and my sister has one. If anyone ready this post from September of 2007, you've met my sister's lab Willie. Willie is the son of my sister's previous lab, Mickey. Mickey was awesome with my nieces and nephew when they were little, but he made a lousy watch dog. He he didn't bark very much, and he always was wagging his tail. He certainly didn't do anything to deter the thieves that broke into my sister's house years ago. The thieves let him loose in the yard and did their thing.

Unlike Mickey, the lab I met yesterday barked a lot. However it's hard to take a dog's bark seriously when at the same time his tail is wagging as if to say "Do you have a ball I can retrieve? Come play with me!" I was walking in one direction and another walker came by in the other direction. Now the dog didn't know who to bark at. He looked at me, and then he look at the other walker. Then he would turn his head and look at me again. It was as if he was thinking; "Who's the bigger threat to my turf? The man or the woman?" Eventually the owner came out to bring him back inside.

Watching the dog having this debate, reminded me of how some chess games go. If I have several different ways of attacking, I'm looking at which way I should go. King side, or queen side? Go after the backward pawn, or the isolated pawn? Go after the king right away, or pile on a pinned piece? Do I lead with the queen or lead with the rook? If I'm defending, what is the bigger threat? Do I need to worry about the opponent's passed pawn, or his attack on my backward pawn? Is he coming in on the king side or the queen side? Should I block with the bishop or with the knight? Coming up with the right answers to these questions can make the difference between winning, losing or getting a draw.

Last Sunday I went down to Westfield, New Jersey to play in the quads. I wasn't going to get involved with the pairings, or give the TD any advice. I'll wait until they get Version 8, and make sure Murphy isn't sneaking a ride with me. Even Murphy stayed away from the tournament he sure was a pain in the butt during the drive. It took me forever to get out of New York. I was afraid I wasn't going to make it in time so I had my husband call, and tell them I was coming. I made it with about 10 minutes to spare. Not to mention they waited another few minutes to see if they'd get a 40th player, which they did.

In round one I played Alice Dong. She was White again. Like our last game she attacked king side while I went queen side. Both our attacks fizzled, but she ended out ahead by a pawn and a big edge on the clock. Don't ask me how I survived the position below with 5 seconds left on my clock.

But with 3 seconds left on my clock, and who knows how many moves later we reached this position with black to move. She resigned.

My second round game was very interesting. I dropped a pawn early, but got lots of counter play. Unlike the game from Thursday where I thought I had an attack, I really did have an attack. However like the lab who didn't know who to bark at, I didn't find the right square for my rook. This is the crucial position.

King side or Queen side for White's e1 rook? I played 33. Re3, with the idea of going to g3 and piling on his backward pawn. 33. Rc1 was the right move, which forces him to sac the exchange to stop my threat of 34. Rxc6+. My plan was too slow, and gave him time to consolidate on the queen side. Here's the game.


In the last round I played a teenage kid who seemed to just want to simplify and offer a draw. Considering how long and how draining my first two games had been, I happily accepted the draw. That gave me time to complete the true mission of my trip.

True confession time. There is an ulterior motive to my trips to Westfield. After all, schlepping 38 miles in New Jersey traffic is a lot of work for playing in a quad. My mission in three words; Three Buck Chuck, Trader Joe's ultra cheap wine. We can't get it where I live because in New York you can't buy wine in a grocery store. You have to go to a liquor store. In New Jersey you can buy wine in a grocery store.

It's actually decent wine. I wouldn't serve it if I was having a dinner party, but it's perfect to have with pizza, and other foods like that. I'm not going to have a $50 bottle of wine with pizza. Actually Trader Joe's has a nice selection of wines at varying price points, so I usually pick up other wines that I never see in my neighborhood wine shop.

On this particular trip I wasn't just shopping for my husband and me. We introduced our neighbors to it, so they wanted me to get some for them too. So after my last round game, I went over to Trader Joes which is about two blocks away from the Westfield YMCA where we play. I loaded up on wine for the neighbors and us, and found the food items they were out of stock at the Traders Joe's near us. I got enough to last us through the summer. I'm in no hurry to go back down there after sitting in George Washington Bridge traffic for over an hour. Note to self: Don't come back from New Jersey on a Sunday until after Labor Day. Summer traffic on the George Washington sucks.


wang said...

Augggh!!! Bridge Traffic on Sunday was the absolute worst! I hated it with a deep burning passion.

I used to play at Westfield, boy the quads have gotten really big, I mean 40 people is quite a turnout.

Sorry about your second round game, but overall 1.5 out of 3 is respectable.

chesstiger said...

To answer you question about the second game. My eyes immediatly went to the c-file to place the rook there.


1) black's king is on that file and is under attack already by other white pieces so adding more pieces to the attack cannot hurt white.

2) The plan Re3-g3 takes two moves while Rc1 is only one move and more direct at what it is all about namely mating the opponents king which the opponent has to direct his attention to so he has no time to think of other grand schemes.

3) With Re3, which does nothing for your position, you allow your opponent to look for possible backrank mates.

Blue Devil Knight said...

That wine sounds good and the tournament sounds fun. Hence, it sounds like a great day!

Polly said...

Tiger: I'm not sure why I missed the obvious Rc1 move. All of your reasons are very logical, and when I was analyzing the game later it all made sense. I think I was focusing too much on the one attack along the diagonal and trying to eventually get the deflecting sacrifice. Somehow I thought bring the rook in via the king side would work. However it gave him enough time to cover d8, and have time to play the knight move.

Polly said...

Wang: I've been there on days when they've had 13 sections, 12 quads and a 6 player Swiss. It's very popular and it gets rated the same day as it's run.

BDK: If I could teleport myself there it would be much better. Beam me up Scotty!