Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Not So Grand (Prix) Return!

I got back from Kansas two weeks ago. I was a little tired from the trip, so I was not in the mood to jump right back into the thick of things. I decided I would not go for my Thursday "cracktion" fix at the Marshall. I waited until the following week for that. However it's not like I did nothing chess wise until last Thursday. Sunday I was directing the Grandmaster Challenge at the Marshall. This is a 6 round G25 tournament that is sponsored by Yevgeni Margulis. James West wrote a post on his blog about last month's tournament. It was a change of pace for me from the usual chaos that I face at large scholastic tournaments. The toughest part was trying to calculate some of the special prizes for top senior and junior because they're based on the player's age.

Wednesday I played my make up round from the Westchester Chess Club summer round robin. Unlike like last year's chaotic event, it's more manageable. We broke it down into two 6 player round robins, instead of one gigantic round robin. Instead of going by straight rating order of putting numbers 1-6 in one section and numbers 7-12 in the other section we mixed it up by alternating ratings. (1,4,5,8,9, 12) (2,3,6,7,10, 11) The idea was to give lower rated players an opportunity play some of the higher rated players. In hindsight I'm not sure this was ideal since the spread between some of the ratings is significant. I'm number 2 in my section. Number 1 is 1969 and number 6 is 987. I have my work cut out for me in this section. I beat the 987 pretty easily, but after that it gets hard.

Wednesday I played Michael Knatz, rated 1969. I did not have to play him in the club championship since he got upset in the first round, and had a few draws while I was winning my games. It was probably good that I did not have to play him in the Club Championship. I'm not sure I would have scored 5.5 and won the tournament. I'd only played him one other time, and he beat me with Black by playing a reverse Grand Prix against my English. I had forgotten about that game so I didn't know I would be seeing the same type of stuff as Black against my Sicilian.

My biggest problem stemmed from wasting moves early, and not forcing a trade of his c4 Bishop. One approach I've tried against the Grand Prix has been to attempt to trade queens after White puts his Queen on h4. However it doesn't work well when White plays Bg5 and I don't have f6 at my disposal. Things got very difficult after 13. Bg5. Here's the game.


I played again Thursday night at "Four Rated Games Tonight!" I can't stay away from my "cracktion" for too long. Things were more like they used to be with me near the very bottom of the wall chart. No kids with three digit ratings and no unrateds of dubious repute. I knew I would probably get the bye in the 2nd or 3rd round, but I didn't go for the pre-emptive last round bye. I figured I'd take my chances on maybe being able to avoid it all together, or hope there was a house player near my rating hanging out. Neither would be the case. I lost in the first round to an expert, and one of the players below me drew in the first round, and the other was taking a 1/2 point bye. That left me with the bye in round two. There wasn't a suitable house player floating around, so I just hung out. At least having a point would give me good pairings in the last two rounds. I played kids in rounds three and four, but these are big kids who out rate me by 200 points.

Wouldn't you know it! After Wednesday's ugliness, I'm paired against Zachary Weiner. Guess what he plays against my Sicilian? Yep! Another Grand Prix. However having remembered the previous night's game, I took a different approach. Early on I was able to block out his light squared bishop and not have to deal with the annoying pin on f7. I actually defended well and was up a few pawns. Unfortunately I had one of my time pressure meltdowns and hung a rook.


Sigh. I hate when that happens. I'm seriously thinking about switching tournaments in September when the Marshall starts up their next FIDE Thursday. It would be one game a week for 6 weeks at a time limit of G/120. Even though I kept telling people I don't like to come into the city just to play one game, I think it will give me a better shot at trying to regain some of my form. It's open to 1600 and above so I should get some good games.


linuxguy said...

Wow, in that first game you could have played Na4 to trade on b3 instead of playing e6. I guess hindsight is 20/20 and you figured e6 was shutting his bishop and the d5 square, but it actually created a target along the diagonal and handed over some initiative to his attack, IMO.

The impression I got from this game was that Black was creating targets for White. At the end you move your queen and I think he takes your rook on a8. Both games! hehe.

Game 2, I thought this guy played the same opening system weaker than guy#1. hehe. The first player played a4 instead of a3, and backed off his bishop to b3 before you pushed d5 to prevent the follow up with ...d4. Turns out it didn't matter because he his a3 instead of a4 move didn't prevent you from stomping his bishop with ..c4, anyway.

You needed to develop that rook on a8 before playing ..f6. I think Black's position had fallen apart with the rook check. He could have played Ne6+ instead of RxB, but regardless, even had you saved your rook on a8 somehow, I think it looked like the game was on the overish side. Wow, you seemed winning up until ...f6.

I've played the Grand Prix. It wouldn't scare me as Black, you almost had it.

linuxguy said...

Polly, I see now that you are winning in game #2 up until ...h5 at the very end. Actually, I didn't understand h5 in either game.

I guess that is the computer engine that suggests ...Nf5, then White will go Re8+. What human would develop your rook on a8 for you? Not many that I know of. A person would probably try Qe1, then g4, something desperate perhaps but not simply give in.

I'm cynical when it comes to computers defending kings.

chesstiger said...

I had the impression that you were totally overplayed in game one.

In game two, your final mistake was when you played h5. I am still wondering what you were trying to achieve with that move, what was your plan? How did you see it improve your position?

Polly said...

The first game I was totally outplayed, and mentally it was hard to put up a fight. It was one of those games where I was fighting my psyche along with the opponent.

In the 2nd game I played 29...h5 to give my king an escape square after Rd8+. I had considered Nf5 but I did not see the entire continuation that is shown in my analysis. I still thought I would be losing material to stop mate. 29...Nf5 is clearly the better move. I do lose a lot of my edge with 29...h5, but it doesn't necessarily lose if I don't blunder the rook with my terrible king move.

It was disappointing to lose that game since I was winning for most of the time.

linuxguyonfics said...

For all of my analysis complaining, I have to hand it to you, Polly, I can't see myself playing anywhere as strong as you in G/30.

Heck, I don't know how people avoid Scholar's Mate at G/30. hehe.

That second game from you was really strong for it be a G/30, IMHO. I guess I keep thinking they are normal tournament games even when they are played at Action speed. Would not have been a bad game at normal time controls, just a blunder on the last move.