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.