Saturday, October 10, 2009

Train Wreck - Part 1: Gum on the tracks!

When I entered the slow tournament at the Marshall I did not know what to expect. I certainly didn't expect to win a lot of games. I figured with a tournament minimum rating of 1600, there weren't going to be too many people lower rated then me. I hoped I could put up a decent fight against those much higher rated, and even beat a few people within a 100 points of me.

The first round I did put up a good fight until I panicked when his knight got deep into my territory. It's just not a good feeling when you're black and there's a white knight sitting on f6. Just like the night before I got into some gambit line that I really had no idea what I was doing. My opponent had a lot of play for the pawn, but I was holding my own. In game/30 I know that I can't agonize over the position, and in less then an hour it's going to be over with one way or another. I may succumb to an overwhelming attack or I may hold on for dear life and win or draw a wild ending with little time on the clock.

When both players have 2 hours each then it's a whole different story. There's time to work out the lines of attack, and defense. In playing with so much time, I needed to adjust my thought process and my attitude. In game/30 I may find a move, look at the possibilities briefly and then just make the move with the thought "I don't know what the hell is going on, but I don't have time to figure this out." Sometimes that works but more often then not, the move loses.

When I saw that he was threatening to stick his knight on f6, I retreated my queen to d8 with the idea of if 24. Nf6+ Rxf6 25. exf6 Qxf6. I had spent a good bit of time on 23...Qd8 debating whether or not the sacrifice was sound or even necessary. Then once he played Nf6+ I had decide whether I really wanted to go through with the exchange sacrifice. I debated a long time, and then chose not to do it at that point. A few moves later I did do it. It turns out if I was going to play Rxf6, I should have done it on move 26. Waiting a few moves changed the position too much, and then it was no good. Here's the game.


One of the problems with slow chess is if your opponent is being somewhat annoying, you have to deal with it longer. As I mentioned in yesterday's summary this particular opponent barely acknowledged my existence at the beginning or the end of the game. After I resigned, I made the comment to the effect of "Maybe the exchange sacrifice would have been better when you first played Nf6." Most opponents would acknowledge the remark, express an opinion on the offhand analysis, and if time permitted ask if I wanted to go over the game. He ignored me and went to analyse his friend's game. I think I even posted the result on the pairing sheet.

He chewed gum the entire game. This is my own personal opinion, but I think chewing gum in certain places is kind of rude and annoying. Would you chew gum during a church service, classical music concert, at a reception or other formal occasion? I think that chewing gum during a tournament game is not appropriate. Considering the less then congenial exchange at the beginning of the game, I didn't feel very comfortable asking him not to chew gum during the game. Maybe I felt he would not respond kindly to my request. I certainly didn't want to bring the tournament director into it if he had some negative reaction. It seemed like a petty thing to fuss about. My solution was to listen to classical music on my iPod and tune him out. I pulled my cap down low so that I could keep his face out of my line of vision. It's really annoying to look up and see your opponent making faces similar to what cows do when chewing their cud.

I guess I should ask myself "Why would I want to spend any more time with the guy?"


LinuxGuy said...

Polly, some chess players can be irrationally introverted, it's unfortunate but it's there. I could say that of myself as well, but compared to many of my opponents, they are the ones that are, and I am extroverted at social moments by comparison. I guess they warm up to "strangers" more slowly or something.

Fascinating game. I thought you played this game brilliantly.

The exchange sac idea though, I believe is bad; plus, the queen was doing something on c7. Like I say in my tactics post, there is one GM who seems to do this a lot, but I notice when he does it it presents problems for his opponent, yours is you were just trying to 'get the heck out of dodge' which is more psychologically based. IMHO, you were basically winning the game until you got fixated upon that idea.

When the knight first went to h5, I would have tried to play Kh8 almost immediately. Then you can play Ng8 or even Rg8 if it turns out you need to defend after he plays h3 or something (he could have tried k-side attack(?)) If he lets you get in Ng8, then what does he have? Your queen tempo loss let it make it look like he knew what he was doing with that knight, after c4.

Instead of 26...RxN, I would have been looking at ...BxB QxB Qd7.

I know how stressful it must have been, because you played so well, but try and close out these sort of opportunities when you do get a winning position. You can get a big ratings boost, and it can cover the sins from the other games, ratings-wise. ;-)

Polly said...

Linux: Thanks for your interesting input. Maybe you're right about introverted chess players. Sometimes I may be a little overly sensitive to such aloofness when I see the same player talking to some of the men in the tournament. As one of only 2 women in the event it's easy to mistake introversion for sexism. Each week when I see him I feel as though I'm invisible. All my other previous round opponents have said hello to me and talked about our game.

I didn't really the queen was doing anything useful on c7. The center pawn structure was blocking the b8-h2 diagonal. With the exchange sacrifice I break up the pawn center and perhaps can pick up the d pawn. Fritz rated 24...Kh8 or Rxf6 as slight edge for Black. The move I played Fritz gave White a slight edge.

I do agree that 23...Kh8 was my best move after Nh5. After you suggested moves of 26...BxB 27 QxB I don't think you meant 27...Qd7 since the knight on f6 is covering d7.

Sometimes my perception of the opponent's attack is skewed in such a way that I forget that I'm up a pawn, and think I'm losing when in reality I can hold off the attack and will end out with a winning ending. If I don't panic about his knight on f6 and the possibility that he's going to launch a king side attack with h3?!, the connected passed pawns on the queen side are going to be a real thorn in his side. I misjudged my chances of doing something with those pawns without a second rook.

LinuxGuy said...

Right, Qe7, not Qd7. I make that mistake when writing down the coordinates sometimes, okay frequently.

I've seen the avoidance thing before, but I don't think it was personal, more like how chessplayers are weird. One person I play, who is not talkative in any event, if I say more than two sentences after the game, he will almost without fail say "They're still playing". Of course I look next to me and see two players frozen for the last ten minutes, cobwebs anchoring them to the table. But we want a reason that satisfies us, I know, it's just like that sometimes, but I have not been forever ignored by anybody.

You probably could have tried ...d6 in the opening as well. He may get some onslaught chances against your king, but if that doesn't work, you have the winning pawn already.

I agree with Fritz that the ..g6 move is probably too much, but in any case he played Qd1 instead of something like Qh3. Actually why not 11.Nf3 instead of 11.Na3? and if h6 to hold onto the pawn, h4 should win it.

Without seeing Fritz's analysis/confidence, I may have played 17... gxf4 18. Nxf4 Nh8, perhaps it's bad but it lets him know he won't have an easy time of it, and you still have the passed Q-side pawn.

With 19. Ng3, he made your ..g4 move good. 19.c4 was the only way to try and punish the ..g4 move, I believe.

If you are worried about the knight on h5, I believe 23. Qf7 should make it clear that the game has been cemented away.

If you had gotten the RxN in a move sooner, he still could have played Qe5 to defend the d-pawn and offer queen exchange. After ...Qe7, he can grab some initiative with c5. On a human-like level, it's easier for us to play the exchange up, since it really didn't garner any initiative, and there's not as much strategy left after in the position after previous piece trades.

LinuxGuy said...

Oh, I didn't mean that h4 would "win" the pawn, but gxh Rxh would get his rook into play, which perhaps looks even worse.

chesstiger said...

Its always good to invest some time in your plan when the actual position has come on the board since then you can see the actual position live and not from memory or visualisation.

Why you didn't follow your plan i dont know but next time dont try to analyse all lines out. Even in slow time games the 'gut' feeling is important.

Polly said...

Tiger: The exchange sacrifice wasn't the best plan for me, but I do agree that I should have followed through with it immediately when he plays Nf6+. I chickened out and then panicked a few moves later and played it anyway in a slightly different position that wasn't as good.

AS I said in my last comment to Linux, I did not take in to consideration how active White's pieces got, and how easy it was for him to start picking off pawns, especially the two passers.