Friday, July 3, 2009

Returning To The Scene Of The Crime - Part II

Where were we? Oh yes, I have one point going into round three. I would be paired up again. I was paired against a 1900 who I've had good results against lately. I have a win and draw against him in the last two games we've played. My overall record against him isn't so hot, but I was more focused on how I've done recently. Sometimes it's probably better that I not think about how I've against someone recently. It can be a distraction from the game at hand, and cause me to overlook my opponent's chances. After I made my 21st move Re3, I felt I had an overwhelming advantage. I'm ahead on the clock, his rooks were out of play, and I was preparing to bring both my rooks to the king side and perhaps be able to take advantage of his h6 pawn.

Positions like this can be dangerous for me if I don't keep my mind totally focused on what's happening on the board at that moment. As soon as I start thinking about how many rating points I'll gain, or who I might play in the next round if I win the game at hand I get myself in trouble. Sure enough my mind is wandering because I'm a little too confident about my attack, and his out-of-play rooks. In the meantime I'm overlooking how much trouble his queen can cause all by herself. Instead of blocking her pathway into my second rank by putting one of my rooks on e3, I decide to chase his queen with my g3 rook.


A wise chess teacher once said "Never drive your opponent's piece to a better square." My move 24. Rf3 chases his queen to d2 where he is attacking my suddenly vulnerable rook on e1 and my pawn on b2. After moving the rook away and 25...Qxb2 I'm down a pawn and I'm the one having to play defense. Sheesh! How did that happen so suddenly? It happened because I lost sight of what his queen could do and the suddenly annoying bishop on c4. I thought I was going to trap his queen, but she slipped away on the queen side, and came back in on the king side.

This not so wise chess teacher has another piece of wisdom to impart. "Don't make the same mistake twice in the same game." With 38. Rg3 I chase his queen once again to a much better square (f4). With four seconds left I find the worse possible move on the board with 39. Kg1?? after 39...Qxf2+ I'm toast.

So how does one bounce back from a loss like that? Learn from one's mistakes, forget about the ugliness, and move on. That's what I would tell my students, and that's what I told myself. However sometimes I'm incredibly thick-headed, or I find something else to screw up instead. I wasn't even thinking about that game when I sat down for the last round. I got paired way down against a kid rated 1247, and figured perhaps I could salvage an even score out of this mess. I put up good fights against my higher rated opponents in rounds one and three, and won in round two. Certainly I could beat a player I out-rated by over 400 points. Right??

Okay the game wasn't as bad as all that, but what can I say about a game where less then 10 minutes have elapsed on the clock and I get my queen trapped on the 11th move? If I had come to the tournament by train, I probably would have resigned on the spot and tried to make the 11:14. However I got a ride down, and I had make sure I waited with one of the kids until his mom met us where we would be dropped off after the tournament. So what else was I going to do while waiting for Josh and Michael to finish their games? So I decided to make this kid earn his win.

It turned out to be a pretty interesting game. Even though I eventually lost, I got some decent counter play. Having nothing to lose at that point, I think I was able to just play the game and not worry. Queen for a bishop? No problem! What's the worse thing that can happen now? I can lose sooner, then later.


Actually the worst thing that happened was the drive back home. The problem with "the city that never sleeps" is; that the construction crews don't sleep either. No matter which way one tries to leave Manhattan, there is always going to be lanes closed for construction, and lots of cars going nowhere fast. Normally if I take the 12:30 train home, I'm back at my house by 1:15 AM. I think I got home closer to 2:00 am. I guess Murphy does traffic too.


wang said...

Sorry to hear about that Polly. I think you need to just focus on the board. Your mind tends to wander too much. Part of the problem is that you are a tournament director and you know quite a bit about pairings, so your mind starts to race.

As far as underestimating your opponent I did that last weekend.

I can say that there are a great many things that I miss about NYC, the traffic construction is definitely not one of them.

Polly said...

Wang: It goes beyond the mechanics of the tournament. Any little thing can send my mind racing off into another direction. Too many times in the middle of a game, I see something off the board that I find interesting. It might be what my opponent is doing. It might be a dispute happening on a near by board. It might be something another player is doing that I find amusing, annoying, or stupid that I think might make an interesting story.

If I have my camera with me, it's even worse. I may jump up in the middle of my game because I see something that would make a good photographic subject.

My wandering mind manifests itself in all parts of my life. Trying to keep it on one thing at a time is a long time struggle. Chess challenges me to stay on track, but it's not so easy when there is so much going on around me.

Aziridine said...

That reminds me of an Alekhine quote: "During a chess competition a chessmaster should be a combination of a beast of prey and a monk."

I think you seriously overestimated your own position after 21.Re3 - the game looks nearly equal to me and I wouldn't hesitate to defend Black's position. And by the way, you really shouldn't be letting your mind wander when you're playing up two sections :-)

Also, if you take another look at the position after 11.Bc5 you'd probably find 11...Nd4! which limits the damage to either a piece or to queen for rook and pawn after 12.Qd3 Qxc4 13.Qxc4 Nxc2+ 14.Kf2 Nxa1 15.Rxa1.

Polly said...

Azir: When I analysed the position after the tournament, I realized my attack was not as impressive as it looked at the time. Fritz had the position equal after 23. Qe3. It's easy to over estimate the particulars in a position when it appears the opponent's pieces are not active.

The tournament was only 2 sections. Open and Under 2200. There was non under 1800 section, in fact there isn't even an under 1800 prize in the tournament.

Aziridine said...

Wow, my bad. I was wondering what a 1200 was doing in the U2200 section :-)
My worst rating upset ever was as an 1800, when I blundered a mate in one against an 1100. Chess is too much work: you have to be alert against every opponent, in every game, on every move...
Of course, piece activity is only one factor in the evaluation of a position. And you may not gain much by having active pieces if they can't attack existing weaknesses or force new ones in the opponent's position.

chesstiger said...

Here i was, after reading your polly's sport story, thinking that you could focus on one thing with all your energy. After reading this little gem i know have learned that it's the other way around.

Chess is in the first place a game of focus and attention, atleast the long games. If ones mind wonders of to often then oversights,faulty calculations and hope chess aren't far away.

So next time try to focus on the game at hand and not who is picking his nose, why the blonde gets so much attention, why there is a mother hanging over her son's board talking to his opponent, ... .

The result at the game is given at the end of the game not in the opening or middle or at the start of the endgame. No, the result is given when one does the pieces back in the box and clear up the table. Until that moment concentration is a must.

Linuxguy said...

Game 1, I've said the thing before about getting too optimistic about a position when one has to move quickly, I get that too, although that's why I am lucky I don't have to play those. I would have tried to exchange bishops instead of chase the queen (quick take on it).

Game 2, no offense, but you may want to crack open a book on openings theory occasionally; I don't recognize that queen maneuver, but could be wrong about this. The rest of the game you almost made it back, but started out down too far.

I now have this view firmly in my mind that the ratings floor must be a promoter of G/30 G/60. I can't stand playing against 'A level' players that come from quick-chess land (I think you are a natural for slower chess, BTW, like I am) because I don't think that quicker time controls encourage rich play, but rather more mechanical play.

linuxguy said...

BTW, I didn't intend to mean it that way in the sense that you don't know what an Accelerated Dragon is, etc., as obviously you do. I keep silent a lot on the internet because this medium makes it hard for me to be frank without sounding disrespectful.

He retreated his knight to attack your queen, so you could think of it as alright to retreat your queen back to d8 when he attacked you with that knight. Yin and yang thing, try to keep optimism in check particularly before all the pieces have been developed.

A lot of people seem to think they should have done more, but I say to them "Why? You haven't even developed (all) your pieces yet." I've noticed that most A level players have no qualms about retreating a piece, and even plan it often.

linuxguy said...

Nh5 and BxN on c3 seems like some sad computer engine recommendation to me.

What would really be funny is if you noticed the trap and then continued something like this:
10... Ne5
11. Bd3 NxB+
12. fxN Nxe
13. a3 NxN
14. bxN , then say could go Bxc+
15. Kf2 Qc7

11. Bd5 NxB
and you are still on for BxN on c3.

I am not looking at an engine, but it looks forcing.

This is the difference between fast and slow chess. Fast chess is about being practical (retreat and save time!), slow chess is for finding the torturous continuations. When you are looking that hard at a position, you basically stop dropping things, but it does take time. That's why I say G/30 G/60, who should care about those results? I think that those should be a separate rating.

linuxguy said...

Never mind.

Just thought about it for another second, and realized it drops the knight after fxN, but you still get 2 pawns for the knight after the trade on c3, if that's any consolation.

Polly said...

Linux: There is a line in the Accelerated Dragon where Black plays 7...Qa5. The idea is that if White plays 8. f3 to try to go into the Yugoslav Attack, Black plays 8...Qb4. The correct move is 8. O-O. Here is a recent game where my opponent self destructed against the line.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Bc4 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Nc3 Qa5 8.f3 Qb4 9.Qd3? Ne5 10.Bxf7 Kxf7 11.Qd2 Re8 12.f4 Nc4 13.Qe2 Nxb2 0-1

linuxguy said...

You are right, Polly! If f3 after Qa4, then White drops the e-pawn.

Thanks for the openings lesson. :-)

Now I know why Fischer, for example, would play a move like Bc4-b3 unprovoked.

That is interesting about the forcing 0-0 part of it (or at least strongly persuading) as I like to play Yugoslav with 0-0-0 and Bc4 when I can get it.

One interesting thing about the classic dragon is that when Black plays d6 before g6, then I play my f4 system because I do not know yet that Black is planning on playing g6. IOW, the only time Bc4 is quite nice to get in for White, IMHO, is when White _knows_ it will be a Dragon, and especially not a Najdorf.

linuxguy said...

Of course, you also play an early Nc6 (which I suppose is part of the Accelerated) which should make it easier for White to get in a decent Bc4 game (If the player as White likes Bc4).