Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bermuda Open: Round 5

It's so hard to believe I've gone from that....

(The closest I got to an ocean swim on this trip!)

on Monday. To this.....
on Wednesday.

I'm ready to go back to Bermuda. Maybe we could move the US Amateur Team East to Bermuda. Okay Bermuda is not part of the US, but it is east! I suspect the good folks in New Jersey would not like to relocate their pride and joy to Bermuda.

Since I physically can't go back there, I might as well go back there via this post. What better is there to do a snowy Wednesday then to blog about a sunny Sunday? As alert readers may have picked up from my results post, I had a very good Sunday. I have edited my round 4 post and included the very short game. I left the date as Sunday, but probably appropriate that I added the game today. It is Wacky Wednesday worthy.

Having such a short game gave me a chance to catch up on my other posts. I'm not sure if I'm having an extended case of writer's block or just tired, but I can't seem to keep up with blogging on the fly. Tournament reports tend to be several days behind. I also got outside for a little bit and sat by the pool. Though it was rather frustrating sitting there knowing full well I couldn't take a swim even if I wanted to. Though you got to love the crazy weather when one minute it looks like this.....

....and 10 minutes later it's pouring! Fortunately I had gone back up to my room to do some more catching up on the blog. I'm glad Donna had given me a call around 2:55 because I had totally lost track of the time, and had no idea it was so close to round time. Fortunately they do not use the draconian FIDE forfeit rule for arriving late at the board. If they did everyone would forfeit in one round or another.

Just as I figured, I got paired up and had Black. Everyone else in under 1800 also got paired up, so my chances were as good as any one's. I got paired against Gordon Richie who demolished me in blitz on Thursday night. I figured after the butt kicking he gave me when I was Black, that I better not go into the same line again. I guess that's one good thing about my losing to him in the blitz tournament. I could play something different in the game that really mattered.

Sure enough it's going to go into the exact same line if I play 5...cxd5. I decided I would play 5...Qa5. I had no idea whether it was book move or not. I figured I couldn't do any worse then what happened in the blitz game. Nothing like winging the opening when I'm trying to win my class prize. I guess we both were winging it because I managed to win a pawn on move 13. From that point onward I would not only be battling my opponent, but I would also be battling my distraction demons.

I was very determined to hold on to my edge and not lose focus. It was rather nerve wracking as I found myself having played 10 queen moves in the first 20 moves of the game. I'm thinking to myself "How long can I get away with my knight sitting on g8 and my king on e8?" I was getting away with it because I provoked him to move his king. I probably will not show my students this game since I was breaking every opening rule in the book. I didn't really want to castle since he would probably just shove all his king side pawns down the board and he already had the queen and bishop battery aimed at h6.

I decided my best course of action was to try to trade queens and simplify. It was a cautious route, but seemed to be the one with the least complications. Since this was a long time control I could take time to make sure there was not some cheap shot lurking somewhere. After awhile I started to notice that a number of the games around me were done. What had happened? Who won? Who lost? These were questions that I wanted answers to. However I also need to make sure that I didn't get distracted by the possibility that I was going win the under 1800 prize. On the other hand I needed to know where I stood.

Eventually I did go look at the results sheet and saw that every 2 pointer rated under 1800 had lost except the two games going on right next to me and at the next table. I had to just keep working on my position. I was still up a pawn, and I had gotten the queens off the board. Now we were down to having both our rooks, a knight and my 6 pawns versus his 5 pawns. Both knights were dancing around the board and a "game of chicken" happening on the open h file. Neither of us wanted to initiate a rook trade on the file. I knew if I traded 1st he would be able to penetrate my king side where my king no longer was. Eventually I would get to double my rooks on the h file.

I couldn't help but to look at the two remaining games. The one right next to me ended out in a draw. Now one of the under 1800 players had 2.5 points. One down, one to go. I still had to do my part and convert my advantage into a full point. I felt good about my chances since I had doubled my rooks on the h file. I saw the possibility for mate in two, but my opponent defended against that one. What I missed was I had actually had two different mate threats and he can only defend one. The problem was I didn't see the other one so instead I went into a line where I won another pawn and traded off everything. That still didn't stop me from being afraid he would create a passed pawn on the queen side if I wandered too far away with my king. Visions of round four of the American Open were haunting me. Fortunately as soon as I started pushing the king side pawns my opponent resigned.


Now all I had to do was wait on the remaining game involving a player rated under 1800. Charles Green was still slugging it out with his higher rated opponent. However his opponent had two passed pawns deep in his territory. I felt my chances of clear first were very good at this point. Charles had a few long games in this tournament. He was the player who Googled the Bermuda Open and found my blog. He and his wife traveled from Ecuador to come to Bermuda. This tournament is the chess widow's dream come true.

Patty and Charles Green with me at the closing party.

As I mentioned in my results post the awards ceremony got off to a very late start. It was around 11:30 by the time the two blitz playoff matches were done. However it was worth the wait. Last year I had tied for 2nd in the under 1800 and I remember drooling over the beautiful blown glass Bermuda Longtails awarded to each class winner. I was delighted to receive my own this year. I think I was more excited about the "trophy" then the cash. Though I was happiest about overcoming a few of my demons while playing.

Brianna Conley and I receive our awards from Jamal Hart of the Department of Tourism

This picture doesn't show the beauty of the glass longtail. Go back to this post to see how beautiful it really is. I started that post with the words "Sigh.... It's snowy cold afternoon in New York, and I'm stilling thinking about Bermuda. 'Hey Gary Cooper, can I come down this weekend for a rematch? I want a do over on our round one game. ' Since that is not going to happen I guess posting pictures and writing about the closing ceremony party will just have to do in the meantime."

Reading that first paragraph from last year's post, I have to ask myself "Why does seem to always snow when I come back from Bermuda in winter?" Maybe I need to not come back until spring.


Anonymous said...

Conrgatulations! You deserve some hoghs after some of the lows you've been posting about.


Anonymous said...

I meant highs, not hoghs


Polly said...

maybe a hogh is when you're high and low. LOL

Banatt said...

I'm afraid the Team East is going to be not so much fun for you then, as we also got hit with a 1-2 foot snowstorm up here. Certainly no Bermuda!

Polly said...

The USATE is always fun, regardless of the weather. I spend the entire weekend holed in in the hotel with maybe one or two trips out for a meal.

I'm just wondering if we're going to have a repeat of the snow storm that stranded us there until Tuesday back in 2003. There is talk of snow again on Monday.

LinuxGuy said...

You came back to Snowmaggedon! I'd rather pitch a tent in Haiti than hit the wet snow after Bermuda!

I love the snow here in Colorado, but it's dry snow, different story.

Your technique in this tournament was better than most of your opponents', and your play was thoughtful. You must have used your time well, didn't step into traps and simply made progress. No uber-dynamic games, but you don't need those to gain rating points back into 1800-1900 land.

Great showing! :-)

Polly said...

Linux: Your assessment is correct. It wasn't brilliant chess, but on the other hand it wasn't stupid chess. Though the 1st round game was kind of ugly.

I have more slow chess coming this weekend with the USATE. I'm playing board 1 so I should get some decent games. Hopefully I can continue to use my time well

chesstiger said...

Good luck at the UState!

Lets hope that the slump is over and that with the Bahamas a periode of wonderfull results has come to the horizon. Atleast at your new tournament you have teammates to do all the running to the resultboards and such. :-)