As I mentioned in my high altitude post, I decided that traveling almost an hour each way to play one chess game that could last anywhere from an hour (totally stupid play) to the full four hours (thinkathon) was not worth the time and expense. As it was, three out the six weeks of the tournament I ended out playing in the cracktion den upstairs. Fear not gentle readers, I have not totally reverted to the dark side. It's just that if I'm playing at the Marshall Chess Club on Thursday it will be with the cracktion-heads upstairs, not the slow pokes downstairs.
My first trip in a month to cracktion-land was not pretty. Even though the calendar said Thursday November 12th, I felt like Friday the 13th came a day early. It started in the morning with my Tae Kwon Do master telling me after class that he thinks my technique has regressed. He said my kicks were better when I was a purple belt, and that my stamina doesn't seem to be as good. I thought I was doing okay, but I have felt like my brain has been in overload as I've been working on relearning and refining the old forms. In a future post I will discuss the overload issue because it does tie in with chess learning. ACIS of Martial Arts?
I had debated about whether I wanted to play that night, but decided I needed to get my mind off of Tae Kwon Do for awhile, and try to utilize my brain over the chess board. The train ride down to the city should have an indicator that I was not at my peak mentally. First I realized I had left my sandwich at home which meant I was going to have rush and get something before getting to the club. Then I started reading. After a few stops I found myself getting tired, so I put the book down and decided to nap. That was one hell of a nap. I fell dead asleep and the train cleaner had to wake me up at Grand Central to tell me "last stop". Good thing I was getting off at the last stop or knows where I would have ended out.
My night was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or perhaps Dr. White and Ms-played Black. I played decently with White against my higher rated opponents in rounds one and three. I lost both those games, but it was a matter of an extra pawn. I didn't feel bad about those games. I can deal with losing if the games were close.
However my play with the Black pieces was just horrendous. In my second round game I reached this position after 14. Qe2 Bd7? (taking away the escape square for my knight.) 15. Be3
I saw that my queen was under attack. At the same time I realized that with his bishop on e3 he would have 16. f4 after I move my queen. My knight has nowhere to go. I was trying to find a move that would protect my queen, and give my knight an escape square. Such a move did not exist, but somehow in trying to give my knight an escape square I forgot about White's bishop and my queen. I played 15...f5?? which was met with 16. Bxb6! Oh crap! I couldn't even blame that on time pressure. I still over 15 minutes left on my clock.
I followed up that ugly game with a hard fought loss with the White pieces in round 3. Now I'm sitting at the bottom with an 0-3 score with a bye be a distinct possibility. After the two close losses with White, and the butt ugly loss with Black I was kind of hoping I'd get the bye in the last round. Put me out of my misery please!! Given how the entire day had gone, it should not have surprised me that the number of players remained even. I got to play another game with the Black pieces. This game was just about as ugly as my second round game with Black. We reached the position below after 11...Nb6 12. Be2
There are a number of moves I can make here. However, I made the insipid pawn capture of 12...cxd4. He answers with 13. Bb4 winning the exchange after 13...Qd5 14. Bxf8 Kxf8. The game continued 15. Qxd4 Qc6 16. Qb4+ Kg8 17. Rfd1. His position is strong and my development isn't even completed. At this point I look at my watch. I'm trying to figure out if I resign at that moment, whether I can make the 11:14 train. "Let's see. It's 10:50. That gives me 24 minutes to catch the subway and make it to Grand Central. The worst that will happen is if I miss the 11:14 I can take the 11:45 train. Either way it sure beats playing this out, and being on the 12:30 train."
"I'm outta here! Good night!"
For the first time all day I had played the winning combination. My timing was perfect. A subway pulled in practically the moment I arrived. The 11:14 train was on one of the track platforms closest to the subway exit. What more could I ask for? I decided no naps on the way back, otherwise I might have ended out in North White Plains. Another ugly night in cracktion Land and almost all of the rating points gained last month, down the tubes.