Tuesday, December 1, 2009

American Open - Part 1: Marathon Madness

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.


LinuxGuy said...

Game 2, I can see some possible improvements for both sides, but I think you simply outclassed him. Nice game!

Game 1 was exciting!

It was interesting that you chose Nb4 instead of Nc3. So, in that vain, I like (not using an engine for any of this) 20.c5!? when bxc is well met by Bxc, and b5 is met by 21.c6 Qc8 22.Nc5!? Re8 23.Qel, and now even the oddball-looking 24.Nb7 is possible.

Reason I say this is that there is no reason to keep hunting in the center of the board here when you have such a strong minority attack.

Interesting tidbit. Your opponent in that first game shown later said (during round 7) to a friend/bystander "Get the referee", then said "He stopped taking notation" The arbiter basically sided with the other guy, and said he could lodge a complaint after the game, if he wanted. After the game, the two players appeared to be on friendly terms.

LinuxGuy said...

In game 2, perhaps ..e5 is theory or something, but it looks over-reaching. Instead of BxB on d7, I would probably play Nf5 for a positional advantage, never mind the queen-check on a5.

Liquid Egg Product said...

In that opposite-colored Bishops position, something is screaming Black should be able to do something. But no matter what, I can't find anything...White always seems to be able to hold.

In the meantime, Dana White is trying to set up a UFC match between Psycho Chess Mom and COMBAT VET.

Liquid Egg Product said...

(COMBAT VET is at the 5:00 mark of linked video BTW)

Ryan Polsky said...

HAHAHAH Polly I played the kid who has the psycho chess mom as his mom. You will be interested in hearing this. After I totally crush the kid within 2 hours (its a long game) his mom and his friend accuse me of cheating! By touching a piece and not moving it! In the dead middlegame! This "happened" about an hour before he resigned, and the didnt claim it till after the game! Of course, I did not do such thing. The dad of his friend made the friend withdraw the complaint, but this did not keep the mom from yelling her ass off at my coach, saying how bad a kid i am and how he should be ashamed to have me as a student. she even threw in some profanities (this is all in front of randy.) then she goes and yells at my mom, saying she should disown me! what a sore loser...

LinuxGuy said...

Randy has probably seen it all, and he is a nice guy.

Ryan, you are one of the nice guys in chess, so I know the claim must be absurd. For those who don't know, Ryan likes to adjust the pieces after his opponent moves them, but he always says "adjust". Given that you basically do it on every move, I don't think you should have to say anything, but that's only my opinion.

Is the psycho-mom the one that looks kinda hot, and the kid is like "Yeah, whatever mom" as she orders him to go to the tournament room while he blows her off?

hehe. Yeah, I probably know who you are talking about then.

Ryan Polsky said...

brian, you must be thinking of mrs. kamgar. psycho mom is NOT HOT AT ALL. psycho mom is the mom of the tiny kid with really long hair. if u want to know his name, look at my round 7 victim. i dont think i can say his name on the internet, so yeah. psycho mom also really pissed me off by standing right over her son during the game, staring right at me. she should have a restraining order.

LinuxGuy said...


Yes, Leo's mom is good looking and a good mom. Unrelated note, I kinda feel sorry for Leo since he looks the same size as the first time I saw him, whereas it seems little Daniel has grown taller.

"staring right at me. she should have a restraining order."

That is freaking hilarious. I wish someone would have taken a shot of that scene for Polly's blog.

He must be a pretty decent player, since he beat Daniel A., who has been playing as long as I've been playing, and could see many moves ahead back then during an Action game I lost to him.

The reason I freak out (to myself) over putting last people's names is that I don't like how Google makes it easy for people to do a search on their name and find stuff from blogs. I think that's rude that people can peer into your private conversations, but the web makes blog stuff into a public thing.

Some people you pretty much know won't freak out over what you say, but if someone thinks their kid is going to be the next Magnus or something, they may also be more likely to google their name. hehe. That's my reasoning - not likely to be a concern, but still within the realm of possibility.

Liquid Egg Product said...

@LinuxGuy: Yep, know what you mean about the privacy thing. It's just best to assume anything you do can be tracked.

One time, I was trying to set up a shipment with a Colombian drug lord through Miami and we used a "private" website.

Of course, the cops just Googled "liquid egg product cocaine shipment" and there it was. Man, I spent a fortune in bribes to get off the hook for that one.

Polly said...

I know I should not be intimidated by some kid's parent or coach staring at me as if I'm going to do evil things, but come one let the kid fight their own battles. The only evil thing I want to do to the kid, is beat him at chess. Does that make me a terrible person? LOL

In scholastic tournaments the parents and coaches aren't allowed in the room. In a open tournament, anything goes. They can fetch water and snacks without the kid having to use valuable time to do this himself. If I want this stuff I have to bring it all with me, and make frequent trips to the water station if I forgot to brig a water bottle with me.

This same stuff happens in tournaments out here in the East. It's not just a California thing.