I started writing this post on Saturday morning before round five. However it took me so long to figure out how to get the Internet working in the room, that I didn't get very far. By the time I got back to the room on Saturday night, I was in no mood write much of anything except the following little blurb on Facebook.
I was better off playing G/60 with no sleep, then playing 40/2 G/60 with sleep. Lost both games today. Managed to lose a totally won game on the second time control imploding with 1 second left on the clock. Then was aggravated that I totally messed up the next game. Sometimes I really hate chess!!!
Sunday morning I wasn't going to spend another $9.95 to get another connection. Any attempts to use the free Internet in the lobby at the tournament site failed miserably. Nobody was getting connected. So here I am back in New York, and I've had some time to look at some of my games.
The LA chess scene is truly the proverbial melting pot of America. As I'm walking though foyer outside the playing room, I hear more different languages then English. The predominant languages are Russian and Chinese. That should not have surprised me considering my "lost in translation" incident in May. When I only visit certain parts of the country once or twice a year, it's easy to forget what the chess scene is like. Perhaps I need to go back and read old posts about previous tournaments to remind myself of what to expect.
Though I didn't need to read my Lina Grumutte Memorial Day Classic reports to remember psycho chess mom. I saw her walking around with that intense stare that looks like she could turn someone to stone with it. I was happy to see that her son's rating has gone up over 200 points since May, and he's playing in the Under 2200 section. I would not have worry about playing him in this tournament.
My first round opponent was Zheng Zhu, a very nice kid who I would guess was in 9th or 10th grade. Our game was a very quiet opening. In fact it was so quiet that I kept dozing off while he was on move. I was so sleepy from starting my day at 4:00 AM EST, I would literally close my eyes and fall a sleep for anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. Since I have one of the Chronos clocks with the touch sensor buttons I would not hear the normal click of a clock button when it's been pressed. I prefer this model over the other one due to the ease of hitting the buttons, in addition it makes the compulsive button tapping that some kids are prone to do, much less annoying.
Fortunately my opponent was so engrossed in the game I don't think he was noticing that I was falling asleep at the board. I also tried to keep the bill on my cap as low over my eyes as possible so it wasn't so obvious that I was napping between moves. I realized that I also needed to change my music choice. I love Stolkowski's Symphonic transcriptions of Bach's organ works when I need music to calm me down. However they're a poor choice when I need something to energize me. I switched to Beethoven's 6th Symphony, Pastoral. That's a very lively piece of music. The 5th would have been better, but I don't have it on this particular iPod.
Even though I was the one dozing, he was the one using a lot of time. Maybe that was why I was having trouble staying awake. I drop a pawn, but managed to get into opposite bishops. With 2:30 left on his clock he offered me a draw which I took in the following position:
We looked at the game afterward, and didn't really find an easy win for Black even with the extra pawn. A number of his friends came by and started putting their two cents worth in. Some of the variations weren't even worth a penny. We had fun picking apart some of the suggested moves.
I guess the one positive thing I can say about this tournament is, I drew with the the winner of the Under 1800 section. He would end out scoring 6.5 - 1.5 with 5 wins and 3 draws.
Round two was another quiet game where we traded down to a bishop and pawns ending. I offered a draw which he took. Round three was when things got exciting. I won a pawn, then got a piece trapped and then managed to sneak a pawn up the board while he went pawn grabbing. The result was a wild ending where he was trying to mate me, and could do no better then giving a bunch of checks. I figured he would repeat the position so I offered him a draw. He said "I haven't repeated the position." I told him I wasn't claiming a draw, I was simply offering a draw. He finally trades his useless rook for my extra queen. We trade queens, and end out with knight and two pawns each. He immediately grabs his captured queen as if he really thinks he's going to get one of his pawns down the board. It was a rather presumptuous thing to do. I've learned the hard way not to grab for the extra queen too soon. However in the heat of the moment I grab my queen too.
We trade a pawn each and then he begrudgingly offers a draw. I don't take it right away. I play a few more moves. When the game is done one of his friends says something, and he snarls at the friend "I don't want to talk about it." Gets up and leaves the board. No hand shake, no "Nice game", no helping to clean up the set. What a knucklehead. I wasn't surprised to see that he forfeited in round eight after losing in round seven. I had stayed for awhile to talk to one of my friends who was watching the game. Then I left the room. I forgot to check the pairing sheet, and a few minutes later the TD is looking for me because there was no result posted. Why should I have assumed that the guy would even bother to post the result?? Oops!
Here's the game.
I was expecting to play Black in round 4, but instead I got White for a 2nd game in a row. Unlike my previous 3 games it went fairly quickly. The game was an instructive example of why knights belong in the center of the board, not on the edge. White's knights were all over Black's center, whereas Black's knights sat idle on a6 and h6 for most of the game.
As I was on the attack, I felt as though I could have played it better. I sensed my move order at times wasn't the best. In a fit of paranoia I played a very passive king move to get out of check. I had given no consideration to sacrificing the exchange. The exchange sac is crushing. I had only looked at moving the king to get out of the knight check. No harm was done by playing conservatively in the position. However it perhaps was an indicator of overall mindset that would render me a wreck for the rest of the tournament.
Here's the game.
I was very happy to get through a very long day without any major meltdowns. I felt like I was in good shape heading into the longer time control games. Little did I know what was coming. The mind is a terrible thing to mind. Stay tuned for the train wreck.