Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm Back!! Kinda...: Part I (Edited)

The article is in the editor's hands now. He loved the pictures I took of various sets of twins so he's letting me do a short follow up piece to go with the pictures. I have 400 - 500 words to play with. I'll start working on that piece tomorrow.

Since my "Last Blunder of 2009" weather bummer I've managed to make it down to the Marshall Chess Club for two tournaments. It takes a lot of planning to work out how I can make it down there. Mass transit is not an option right now. Steve was running the "Happy New Year Open" the first weekend of the year. His two day weekend tournaments always have two schedules. Players can opt to play long two games on Saturday and Sunday at a time limit of 30 moves in 90 minutes followed by 1 hour sudden death. If players only want to play on Sunday or do a reentry after a lousy start on Saturday they can opt for the one day schedule. The one day schedule consists of two games at game/30 and then merging with the two day schedule and playing the last two rounds at the slower time control

I didn't really care which schedule I played. If someone from my area was going to play the two day schedule, I would do that. If they were only going to play on Sunday, I'd take the one day schedule. I could not be fussy. New Years Day I sent out emails to about eight people who either played in the tournament last year, or who might want to play. The only responses I got were "No we're not going." However there were a few people who I had not heard from. One of them I knew I probably wouldn't hear from until Saturday evening.

By Saturday after having missed the "Last Blunder" and a New Years Day party that I normally attend I was getting really grumpy. Cabin fever was raging, and I was in a totally foul mood. I spent a good part of the day sleeping or sulking. I warned my husband that if I didn't get an answer from someone that he was going to have to take me to Manhattan on Sunday. There was no way I was going to spend another day trapped in the house. I think he was praying to Caissa that somebody would call or email me.

Finally I got a hold of Michael's mom and she said they were going for the one day schedule. She said he was probably going to take a round four bye. I could live with that. Three rounds are better then none. There was also the possibility that once I got there I would find someone else who could bring me home after round four. At least I knew I was going, providing there wasn't some freak snow storm arriving Sunday morning. The only snow in the forecast was a snow shower in the afternoon. However being a Murphy's Law believer it would be just my luck that the little snow shower would be a blizzard. It was poorly timed snow on New Years Eve day that messed up my chess playing plans. Had it snowed 3 hours earlier or later I would have had no problems that day. As Chessloser would say, $@#t happens.

Sunday morning came and no snow! Going to a chess tournament on crutches takes some preparation. I made sure the night before I had everything I needed already in my backpack. Clock, Mon Roi, notebook, pens, reading glasses, iPod and Advil. I've managed to forget at least one of those items for one tournament or another. I couldn't be doing my usual running around crazy looking for stuff at the last minute. I also made a sandwich the night before and made sure I had a bottle of water. Running out to grab a bite to eat in between rounds was not an option. I didn't want to have to pester people to get me stuff.

I knew what obstacles I would face once I got to the Marshall. A week earlier I directed the Grandmaster Challenge G/25 tournament. I could write a whole separate post on that, but I digress. There are 3 small steps from the sidewalk to get down to the front door. Fortunately my balance is pretty good from my Tae Kwon Do training. (Okay I know you're wondering; So how does someone with good balance fall down stairs and break an ankle to begin with? Balance isn't worth a damn when you're not looking where you're stepping and completely miss two steps.) Once I navigate the steps then there is the front door. I have an access card so I can buzz myself in, but the door is heavy so I need someone to push it open for me. If the inner door is closed I have to push that open enough so that I can let the person holding the first door come by me and get the second door.

There are two ways of getting to the second floor; walk up the stairs or take the elevator. I have gone to the Marshall Chess Club for over 30 years. The previous Sunday was the first time I had ever taken the elevator to the second floor. To say the elevator is old is an understatement. It's ancient! It's one of the old fashioned ones where you pull the door open like a regular door, and then have to push a metal gate to the side to get on. Even if you're able bodied it's hard to do because you have prop the first door open while you pull the gate open. The gate doesn't stay open so you have to keep holding it while you get in the elevator. It's impossible for me to do by myself. To get in easily I really need two people to help. One to hold the door and one to hold the gate. Usually I have one person trying to do both. It's quite a balancing act.

Needless to say once I get upstairs I'm going to stay there until I'm ready to leave. The weekend tournaments are held downstairs, but if there's more then 32 players the overflow plays upstairs in the back room. Normally it's a bad sign when you're playing upstairs after a few rounds because it means you're on one of the bottom boards and having a lousy tournament. I've played in the back room more times then I care to admit. However in this particular event having an assigned table upstairs was the only way I was going to manage. I needed a table near the door, and away from other tables so I had a place to prop up my leg on a chair.

There were around 30 players signed up for the one day schedule so everybody could play downstairs for the first two rounds. This meant my opponent and I would have the upstairs back room to ourselves. In the first round I just made the top half split so I got paired down against the lowest rated player in the one day schedule, Sarah Ascherman. Sarah is the youngest of four chess playing siblings. I've played all three of her older brothers with mixed results. Benjamin clearly has my number. I have 1 win and 7 losses. I'm even with Jeremy. 1 win, 1 loss 1 draw. Jonathan is the only one I have a winning record against. 2 wins 0 losses, and 4 draws. This would be my first game against their little sister.

Even though Sarah and I had our own private tournament room it didn't mean we were free from distractions. After the merge of the two schedules there would be over 60 players in the tournament. Steve was busy moving tables into the back room, and trying to scrounge up enough chairs. At one point he comes into the room and takes the chair my leg is propped on and replaces it with a folding chair. About 10 minutes later he takes the folding chair and replaces that with a small step ladder. It wasn't the most comfortable set up but it would do until the game was over.

The game wasn't overly exciting. We traded down to reach the position below.

She played 38...Kg6 and offered me a draw. I had a minute and half left and she had close to three minutes. My pieces are better placed, but I couldn't see an easy way to press my advantage. I thought she might start pushing her passed pawn and I would end out giving up my a pawn for her b pawn. I also thought her knight would be able to chase my bishop and centralize on e5. Given the time situation and my physical condition I opted to accept the draw. Looking at the position later I realized that I under estimated my chances in the position. My bishop is active and, her rook is tied down on a8. I think if I had more time on the clock I would have played it out.

Bye decisions had to be made by round two. Michael decided he wanted the last round bye. It looked as though I would only be playing three rounds. I had not seen any other ride possibilities up to that point so I told Steve I would be taking a last round bye also. Then my second round opponent came and sat down. Here was a possible solution to my round four dilemma. My opponent was Ethan Segall, one of the kids from Connecticut who comes to my club sometimes. I asked him if his dad would be willing to drop me off on their way home. He said yes, so that resolved the bye problem.

Ethan and I have played each other quite a few times at the Friday WCA Quads and also at the Bob Peretz Chess Club. This was the first time we would play at the Marshall. When we first played each other I was higher rated. I won the first 3 times I played him. He's one of the kids who used to offer draws frequently when playing a higher rated opponent. Our fourth encounter he got his first draw against me. After that it's been all downhill. His rating has gone up, mine stays the same. These days I would happy if he offered me a draw, especially when I'm Black against him.

I know when I'm Black against Ethan I'm going to see the Grand Prix against my Sicilian. As usual he got a strong attack going on the king side. I managed to beat back the attack to some degree, but only because he missed a killer move. His attack fizzled down to being up a pawn.

Maybe with more time I could have held the ending, but with only a couple of seconds, I was moving quickly and hung another pawn. Eventually I ran out of time. Another way of putting it; I let the clock resign on my behalf. Here's the game. Edit: Here is the correct game. I did not lose on time up a queen!


Two rounds at game/30 with two kids as opponents. So what else is new? The next round would be after the merge. My private tournament room would be no more. Stay tuned for part two. Merger mania!


LinuxGuy said...

Game #1, it's a worth a minute to verify a7(!) which looks winning. The king can come over and much up the pawns like the b-pawn.

Game #2, you kicked butt the whole way as Black. I have no idea where his great shot was since he went for the archetypical/stereotypical attack and you defended against it, then pushed back for the win even. What more could be asked for?

I'm still reading your post, I like to read in bits with games first. :-)

In fact, I like how you won this second game (lost on time?). I am playing this way now, keeping it tactical whether on offense or defense.

chesstiger said...

Either the second game isn't correct or the description is false. Since in the description you lost on time with two pawns down, in the game you won with queen to rook advantage.

Kids are always difficult to play against since one doesn't know what strenght they are playing that day. Are they up their notch it can be they play 1000 points above their rating. Have they some foul mood it can be that they even fall for a scolars mate.

LinuxGuy said...

Maybe play some online games and try to play more quickly to get your confidence back.

I did this and went on a losing streak at first before finding a winning streak better than before. Analyze your games afterward, even if only for a minute or two. Then go back to the club and tell me if the wins don't start rolling in.

This is one way I got my first giant rating jump. The online games helped me more than the OTB games. OTB, I find it too easy to go mental, get distracted by spectators, etc. OTB play seems more a question of nerves, which is why I think it can be harder to improve chess skills that way. Playing OTB though, you learn how to handle yourself and adversity, though, it's more about character-building than just chess-building.

It may not be right for me to say this, but you shouldn't be so hesitant in your play against lower-rated kids. They probably play fast, though, I know, that's why you have to get used to playing fast somewhere else, so you know that you can match their speed when it's appropriate.

I know how it is OTB, people make their moves, then act like they got a cold or are sick (some kids especially) or they didn't see something (when it's actually a good move) or butter a person up by acting super nice or whatever. Not everyone does that, but it's distracting.

I know one player near Expert, and when he acts upset, that's actually when you are falling into his trap, like he just did super well, opposite emotion from the reality. Online this doesn't really happen, or you just expect it more but in a different way.

Polly said...

Mia culpa!! I posted the game from the post that I linked to in this post. On the other post the game had been in Chess Publisher and I had to redo it and edit that post. I hate linking to an old post and not have the game showing so I had fixed it. I guess when writing this post I uploaded the wrong game from Chess Flash.

Yes you're right I kicked butt in that game. I didn't do so well in the game played in this tournament. After you replay it with the correct moves my comments will make sense.

Polly said...

Linux: a7 is very strong. Fritz rated the position 1.37 for white after that move. When deciding on the draw offer I think I was hallucinating and thought I would lose the pawn if I pushed to a7.

The hasty draw acceptance was probably a combination of a few things. I had not played since mid December. Also I was still in a mental funk that I had been in since the accident. The weeks after the accident were tough emotionally for me. Lots of anger and frustration. Just being able to get to the tournament was the 1st step in beating back the funk.

Since I play a lot of OTB chess I've learned to tune out the little psychological ploys that opponents sometimes use. One time a kid did one of those "Oops I blundered" fakes. The acting job made me look closer at the so called free pawn. I might have taken it if he hadn't done that.

I guess since I have more free time, I should rvisit online chess. It probably wouldn't hurt. I may have to create a new FICS account since I don't remember my login name or password. LOL