Thursday, January 14, 2010

I'm Back!! Kinda...: Part II - Merger Mania

In round three both schedules came together. I no longer had a nice quiet room to myself. Instead there were 22 of us jammed onto every available table. Then there were the spectators who would wander in and out. Having come out of the first two rounds with only a half point I knew I would get paired down. I happened to get paired against Ken who I have referred to as the scariest 1300. The last time we played was October of 2008. He plays the opening very well but tends to be erratic in the middle game which is why his rating tends to bounce around between 1300 - 1400. Though almost every time I play him, he gets a decent position and doesn't have one of those middle game implosions that everyone else talks about.

Normally when I've played Ken it's been in the 4th round of one these tournaments, and both of us have a lousy score. That means we're usually in the back of the room where there is almost no player traffic, and no spectators hovering near by. In this particular case we still have the lousy score, but we're not hidden away in the back of the room. We're up in the front of the room right next to the door at my assigned table. We not only have everyone walking past us, but we also have the hovering spectators. I never realized quite how agitated Ken gets when people get near him. Every time somebody walked by to go to or from their board he would get all nervous and look around the room. A few times when the person sitting behind him would get up, he would shoot him a look, and wave him away. Sometimes he would mutter something.

My way of dealing with such distractions is to tune them out with music. Though it became difficult to tune out a hovering chess parent who was watching his son play at a board near me. He kept leaning his hand on the chair that my foot was propped up on. I was afraid he was going to lean too hard and tip the chair over. After a few reminders he got the hint. I did find another way for the parent to become a distraction. Yes, I know I should have been paying attention to my own game, but.....

I couldn't helped to be really annoyed because when the game next to his son was done he sat down in the chair right next to the his son's opponent. The he pulls out his cell phone and starts texting someone. He wasn't texting his son or anything of that sort, but I sure would be disturbed by my opponent's father sitting next to me and pulling out a cell phone. The kid's opponent is this very sweet girl who doesn't seem like the type to make a fuss. I was hoping she would say something, but perhaps her focus is better then mine.

My game was very boring which might have had something to do with why I was watching everything else going on around the room. Unlike my last two games against Ken, I was White. I had no crazy attack to fend off as Black. He played pretty normal stuff against my quiet English. After three hours of just trading and fiddling around we reached this position. I played my move and offered a draw which he took.

That still left a lot of time until the fourth round. It was good that I had found another ride because Michael got a very quick round three draw and was long gone by the time I was done. I guess the message never got to Steve that I had gotten a ride, and was retracting my last round bye. He sees me hanging out talking to some of the other players, and asks "Weren't you supposed to go home with Michael?"

"No I got a ride back with Ethan after round four. I guess you didn't get the message that I was retracting my last round bye."

I'm glad he saw me sitting there. It would have been really annoying to see the round four pairings go up with 1/2 point bye next to my name. The moral of the story is "Double check your bye status." Steve intentionally displays all four rounds on the wall chart so that players can make sure their late round byes have been entered correctly. However since the wall chart was downstairs, and I was upstairs I would not have seen that it was showing me for a 4th round bye. Normally byes can not be changed once the second round has begun. Since it was clearly a misunderstanding and not a matter of me changing my mind for prize purposes he changed it for me.

I was expecting to be Black since I had played White twice already. I even had the board set up with the Black pieces on my side. My opponent came to board and told me he was Black. I guess sometimes it pays to be lower ranked. There are all sorts of pairing rules pertaining to who gets what color in a particular round. When all other conditions are equal then the higher ranked player gets the color he is due. Though my rating was higher then my opponent's rating, his score was better then mine. Therefor he got his second Black, and I got a third White. Gee how disappointing. I didn't have to play Black against some kid who had more points then me.

It was not a beautiful win. It was more about my opponent's blunders then my brilliant moves. However a win is a win. I'll take it!


I was afraid I would have a really long game and end out keeping Ethan and his dad waiting for me. Instead it was Ethan making his dad and me wait for him. He was playing downstairs so I couldn't really go down and see how the game was going. I stayed upstairs and watched some of the games going on in the back room. He ended out losing a long tough game to Rochelle Ballantyne.

I was happy to finally get out of the house and play in a tournament. It had been really hard being stuck at home. I finally started feeling like I was part of the human race again. It's easy to take for granted simple things like being able to get on a train and go down to New York City whenever I feel like it. I can't do that right now so I depend on various people to get me to where I need and want to go. My husband and friends have been getting me up to the Bob Peretz Chess Club on Mondays and to my various classes. I'm teaching just a couple of classes at schools where I know I can manage on crutches.

I'm not driving yet. Both our cars have a stick shift. It's very hard to operate a clutch with a left foot that hurts when I put too much weight on it. I tried my car which has a very stiff clutch, and my leg felt like crap afterwards. I'll try the other car, and if I can't drive that one I'll have to resort to Plan B. The problem is I haven't figured out what plan B is quite yet.

Tomorrow I'm off to Philadelphia to play in the Liberty Bell Open. Normally I go down on Sunday and play the crazy two day schedule in order to save on the hotel. This time I'm going when my ride is going. I will be playing the three day schedule which has 5 slow games as opposed to the 3 slow games I would have on the two day schedule. My "fast" games will be a civilized G/75 intead of the insane G/40 that I normally play. I was about to write that I hope I can sit still for all those long games. Then I realized I don't have much choice. I can't be wearing myself out wandering around the room on crutches.


chesstiger said...

The last game is well played, especially since like you said you took advantage of his mistakes, which is chess all about.

Have fun at the Liberty Bell open, now its time to get some sitfleish like the german say. .-)

Dmitry said...

Interesting Rook endgame! I wonder what would happen if you play it on?
Polly, do you still have pictures from Chess Center of NY?

Polly said...

Dmitry: It was an insteresting ending, but it just seemed like bother players could fiddle around and not take chances. Since I'm just getting back to playing after my accident I wanted pace myself and not put the out to the end.

I haven't forgotten about your picture. I just have to find which box it went into when I was starting to sort them.

LinuxGuy said...

For me, the physical proximity issues and chess are generally separate.

If I am doing manual labor and someone comes up to me and starts talking about something else, that could be distracting - I have never been a work and talk about something completely unrelated type of person - for instance, but chess is like a different part of the brain, the idea-part, and these other circumstances do not affect my chess motivation.

If am sitting next to twenty people and banging my knees against the table support which is inconveniently right between my legs, that's more upsetting because I feel like that makes being a chessplayer one more fish in a can of sardines. I regularly hit the table with my knees (naturally clumsy when it comes to simply getting around). My 245 lb. frame can easily knock the pieces over on multiple boards on flimsy tables, if I am not super-careful. Backing into the guy behind me's chair is no fun but I do that a heckuva lot at these big tournaments, but am as conscientious about it as possible.

Anonymous said...

Breaking news from Jan. 23 press release in press area of USCF's website. The USCF has settled its lawsuits with Polgar and Truong, including a $39,000 payment to Polgar's attorneys. Looks like all the negativity heaped upon Polgar and Truong was misplaced.