Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wacky Wednesday: Adventures In Cracktion Land!

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.


LinuxGuy said...

I would have played ...Qb4 in that first diagram (not that it's best or anything), and at least you'll have a pawn for the piece after f4..Nc6. After I saw your move, I was like "Hey, how did I miss ...f5?" lol. Oh yeah, that's why.

The second diagram, I too missed the bishop skewer. I think it was maybe Kaidanov that once said that people tend not to notice that pieces can move backwards (even at higher levels of chess). Ba5-b4, who'se exactly seen this move before besides you and now the dear readers of this blog? hehe.

I think you did the right thing, take the early train back, that's what I would have done. At least you have a floor. Now you can concentrate on the 40/2 games at the American Open to get your rating points back. I can't play Action chess anyway or I'd probably be making blunders all day long when I wasn't running out of time.

See you at the American Open! I am local and recognize only a couple of the names on the advanced entries so far, literally (and I at least know of a lot of names). I would suspect that there are many out-of-towners at this event. 265 contestants, that's a lot of entries! OTH, a lot of the entries are scholastic ones.

The U2000 section has shaped up well. Omigosh, you are probably going to run into some kids in the U1800. I've never played Leo Or Daniel. Daniel is tiny; if you lose to him and take a picture, that would worth some guffaws. hehe. He's a good player and I've seen his coach follow him around quite a bit and analyze with him post-mortem. He's beaten quite a few strong A players, if memory serves, and strong B players. At least with kids, you can shoot for the endgame.

Anonymous said...

I've also made a couple of bonehead bluders in my last few games, so I've decided to make blunder-checking my number one priority. Until I've eliminated such 1 move blunders from my games, I will focus on blunder-checking to the extent that I don't care if I win or lose, as long as I don't make an obvious one-move blunder, I will count it as a win.

Once I've managed to limit the obvious blunders to one every 8-10 games, then I'll focus on other aspects, like making good moves, etc.

I feel like I've just got to make blunder-checking truly second-nature, automatic, etc. before I can make any more progress in the game.


LinuxGuy said...

Marty, I've heard people say that before, their goal of not blundering or making it to move 40. I would imagine that's like only seeing the path immediately in front.

...cxd looked like a no-brainer, and when tired, it's natural to look for, even desire such a move.

The thing to do is have a deep plan. ...cxd is not a deep plan, it's simply an automatic-looking move. A deep plan says "how can I make or keep his bishop on a5 bad?" (among other things) which naturally makes one hesistant to exchange the pawn after considering that.

My feeling is that Action chess doesn't really favor deep-plans anyhow, but rather favors the quicker tactician, the quicker thinker. If a chess game is a performance, then blitz, Action, those are only one type of performance.

If Smyslov can spend 50 minutes on the move Qd8-c8 in a relatively quiet position, then who are we to judge a real chess game as a 30 minute endeavor? That's my take on it.

Aziridine said...

One thing that I sometimes do when I'm about to move (and I wish I did it every time before I moved): Look at the position through the eyes of a complete beginner and check to see you aren't missing a blatant threat.
I'd also have chosen 15...Qb4, but with the idea of 16.f4 Nc4!? 17.Qxc4 Qxb2, which at least leaves White with the job of figuring out how to save the knight, especially since ...Rfc8 is coming up next. 18.Rac1! Rfc8 19.Nd1! is the way forward but at least that would've taken some effort to find.

Polly said...

Linux: Actually I got all those points back the following week. My next post will be about that tournament.

I'm looking forward to this weekend. I will have a number of G/60 rounds before I get to the real slow stuff. Is Daniel younger or smaller then Winston?

Marty: Blunder checking for the obvious stuff is important. Some of the things I miss are more tactical in nature, and I need to spend more time working on tactics. G/30 is not the place to do hard core blunder checking. At that time limit you need to do rapid blunder checks.

Azir: That's a really interesting continuation to the trapped knight dilemma. When I was considering queen moves I was looking at the very passive 15...Qd8. Being aggressive when losing material gives the opponent something to think about. There were no clock issues at that point, but maybe White has to burn time to work out the line after Nc4.

LinuxGuy said...

Aziridine, that looks a lot better than my Nc6 suggestion. I too wanted to tie-up White's queen, just didn't consider Nc4 carefully.

I will give the position a general lookover in addition to analysis. Does it "look" safe? Pawn pushes that could or do occur by either side must be carefully considered.

chesstiger said...

That was indeed a (chess) day to forget quickly, well atleast the two black games.

Have had such days aswell were everything seemed to go totally wrong whatever good intentions you might had.

LinuxGuy said...

Polly, Daniel is about half the size of Winston, and that is saying something.

When you notice him at first, you probably won't be thinking that he is this B level player that has beaten the toughest A level players at my club. I asked one of the veterans "Why do you beat me, but lose to him?" and he replied "I dropped a pawn!" hehe.

My first thought, I almost played him once, but he went home because of a "tummy ache", was "no way, this can't be, okay I guess it is".

Kids can be funny though about playing that last round because it is like past their bedtime or whatever - they often withdraw or take a bye.

There is one kid I played, and he is playing in the Open section. I am thinking, no way, this kid is going to get zero out of 8 unless someone keels over - it's futile. I wonder if his parents understand this, but whatever floats one's boat.

Good luck in those first few fast and furious rounds. May you wait for their blunder and prosper. ;-)

That's nice how you slow-roll these stories out and keep your blog endlessly stocked with good stories. I should have such patience one day. :-)

LinuxGuy said...

"it will be with the cracktion-heads upstairs, not the slow pokes downstairs."

Here's my experience with wanting to play speed chess.

This is 15 5, move it buster!

5 0 - What the, I played blitz for this? This is not an openings trivia contest.

3 0 - fer ** sakes, this is 3 0, you can't be losing to me on time!

1 0 - abort? You made me wait 5 whole seconds before aborting this game?!! Time-lagger!

So, besides that and losing so many games, I finally gave it up (I think).

Polly said...

Linux: I was looking at the advance entry list. There are two players rated under 1600 in the open section. That's just nuts. I don't know which one of them is the kid you were referring to, but I agree with you. Actually one will go 1-6 and get a bye in one of the rounds, the other will go 0-7 and get a bye. The one point will be against the other low rated player, or maybe one of the unrated players.

I can't see paying the extra 50 bucks to play in that section. I don't they'll get anything out of playing there. The 1400 could play in the under 1800 section and get more benefit then getting smashed in the Open section. The 1500 could play under 1800 or under 2000.

I'm looking at the fields of the Under 2200 section and the Open Section. Knowing how Swiss pairings work, I'd probably play more 2000+ rated players in the under 2200 section then I would in the Open. There are no players rated under 1900 in the Under 2200. There 3 under 1900 and 2 unrateds in the Open. I would end out playing all of those players under 1900, and if the unrateds are weak I'd play them too. Why pay extra money for that?

Aziridine said...

If you're in a lost position you have to kick up mud one way or another, which means looking for weaknesses in your opponent's position to attack. Here the only weakness I saw was b2, and when there's a will, there's a way...

LinuxGuy said...

Polly, I played Tony, it was win a pawn in middlegame, convert immediately in endgame, finis. It was a nice, "clean-looking" win, but I thought he failed to do exactly as Aziridine said which is to kick up mud.

Nothing of what I was doing was a foregone conclusion, it was more like taking candy from a baby, pardon the pun, and should have gotten smacked for it somewhere along the line, but instead of getting muddy, it stayed clean-looking.

I felt a little bad for not giving him some move-advice after the game/postmortem analysis, but I guess since he wasn't creating much and seemed to know his opening at first, I didn't feel like giving him a manual on how to beat me next time. ;-)

Personally, I think that he should play in his own section and try to improve away from the board/study rather than by playing up, since they can simply go with their experience up there.

But who knows, maybe he got something out of it, maybe he didn't. That's one way to get a chess-lesson, I gues.