Friday, March 12, 2010

I Can't Make This Stuff Up!

I was all set to show a couple of more games with key turning point moments from a few more games I played last week. I finally made my return to the Thursday night cracktion scene last week. I had one of my typical results. Get pounded for two rounds, get paired down, mess that up, get paired down again, and take out my frustrations on my last round opponent. After two months of no way to get down to the Marshall, I was finally able to start getting rides again with Josh and his dad.

Last night we came down again, and for the second week in a row I got paired against Josh in the first round. I hate when I come down to New York City and get paired against the player I came with. (Note to self: Next week tell the TD ahead of time not pair us.) For the second week in a row Josh beat beat me. No great surprise since he out rates me by over 300 points. The other thing I hate is just making the cut in the zero score group and getting paired all the way down. I'd rather miss the cut and get paired up a second time.

I got paired against an unrated who has played in a few of these events and has done fairly well. His provisional rating based on 7 games is around 1900. I knew this would not be an easy game for me. I was prepared to have to work hard, and play carefully. What I wasn't prepared for was his really obnoxious behavior. I'm sure certain anonymous readers are thinking "Here she goes. Getting all hyped up over some kid's behavior, and going to get all preachy again." I'll admit I got a little agitated by his behavior, but not for the usual reasons.

My opponent was not one the annoying kids who slap the pieces around, and slam the clock. My opponent was an adult who played many of his moves like he was one the blitzing chess hustlers from Washington Square Park. Half the time he'd drop his piece on a square so that it would need to be adjusted. That was usually followed by slapping the clock. Fortunately since I have the Chronos with the touch switch buttons, slapping the button generates almost no noise thus negating the affect. However it's still annoying to have have keep adjusting pieces after the opponent makes a move. I guess it's better then punk kid who drops the piece part way on a square and then goes to adjust it on his opponent's time.

One problem I was having during the game was I keeping score the old fashioned way on a normal score sheet. This was not part of my writing experiment that I'm going to try in my next slow event. I thought my Mon Roi had run out of juice, so I was writing my moves down. This is slower for me, and I do have difficulty with the notation. Consequently I was falling way behind on the clock. Also my opponent quite often would bang out a move right away and slam the clock. I don't know if he was trying to intimidate me, but it wasn't working. Both of us were making mistakes, and overlooking opportunities to win material.

All the sloppy piece placement and clock slapping was starting to annoy me, but I wasn't going to get into it with him. However I was on the verge of losing it when he plays 41...Bd3 and takes his hand off and then grabs the piece again to move it elsewhere. I said "You took your hand off the piece, you have to leave it there." He continues to hold on to the bishop and says "I want to think about it." I tell him there is nothing to think about, he has to leave the bishop on d3. He puts the bishop back on b5 and keeps telling me to stop it, stop it. The funny thing was at that point I wasn't saying anything. If he wanted to use his time to think about a move he was going to have to play that was fine with me. He had about a 10 minute time advantage, so any free time would make me happy. However I was prepared to stop the clock and get the TD if he tried to make any move except Bd3. At this point we've drawn a bit of a crowd. Everyone likes a good chess argument. This had the makings of becoming a good one.

After a couple of minutes he picks up the bishop from b5 moves it to a4 without letting go and before I could say anything drops it on d3. Now I'm annoyed because he's trying to mess with me, and he's being a jerk about it. We make a bunch of moves very quickly, and I find myself banging the pieces down a little harder then before. Between my time pressure and his antics I've gotten a little agitated, and it's showing in the manner that I'm moving. Here is the game up to the point where I stopped keeping score.


He said something to me while we were both slamming out our moves. I don't even remember what he said, but I think he was annoyed at my reaction to what was happening on the board. I had been up the exchange, but had lost a few pawns and he was going to queen his g pawn. I would have to give up my rook. He would be left with a king, bishop, and e pawn. I would have my pawn on a6 that could not advance and my king. Clearly the position was resignable, but I was so pissed off with myself and my opponent I played on. I hate it when I let an opponent who is acting like a jerk get to me. It's frustrating when my emotions get to me and the opponent gets the satisfaction of a reaction, and a winning position. But....

...for a change Caissa was showing me mercy, and in the end I would have the last laugh. Here is a reconstruction of what occurred.


The starting position is correct, but the sequence of moves after his blunder aren't exact. They do represent what occurred. After he realized he allowed me to play a7 and can't stop me from queening he turned away from the board, and just made moves. I had not noticed this, but one of the spectators said "He's not looking at the board." I looked at her and said "Shhh. We're still playing." After I realized what she said, I noticed that my opponent was just making moves without even looking. Instead of resigning he was just going to play random moves without looking at the position. That allowed me to pick up his Bishop and remain pawn. Then it's a text book queen and king mate.

As I played the mating move, he says "I resigned before you played mate." That was probably one of the dumbest things I've heard someone say at the end of game. All I could say was "What difference does it make? Resignation or mate is the same thing."

He then tells me "You were lucky. I had that game won. You should have given it to me."

I had to keep a straight face and not let out some profanity filled response such as "Are you f#$%ing kidding me?". I said, "That's chess. There's no rule that says I have to resign. If I want to play all the way down to mate that's my right. It's part of the game." Regular readers of this blog know how many times I've just resigned in disgust. Truth be told, I really wanted to tell him "If he didn't act like such jackass the entire game, I probably would have resigned after Bxg1." I'm sure I would have resigned once he promoted the e pawn. I generally don't play down to mate unless my opponent has 1 second left or the position is really complex, and I'm interested in how the opponent is going to finish the attack. In fact I probably resign too soon in some cases because I respect the opponent, and trust his ability to win. There is no hard and fast rule about when is it appropriate to resign.

As Tartakower once said, "Nobody has won a game by resigning." There are times when I feel bad for an opponent who tosses away such an easy win. This was not one of those times. Under normal circumstances against a well mannered player with a little sense of decorum and sportsmanship, I probably would have resigned after Bxg1. It was a wild game with lots of chances for both sides. He out played me in the end and should have won. For a change I was the recipient of a gift from the chess gods.

Too bad the good karma didn't last very long. Another loss in round 3, and forfeit win in round 4. That really sucked. The round 3 loss was really a good game. However I lost the game of "Beat the clock." Look for that game in an upcoming post.


LinuxGuy said...

That was funny about the resignation thing.

I like how you sensed danger and retreated early in the game. His Nxg2 move is hard to believe; I'm guessing that was played with some attitude because your king takes his knight and you are up a rook. He wins back an exchange, so you have a piece for a pawn. It seemed like such a high-stress dynamic game for it to come to down to a seemingly silly tactical stunt (unless I am missing something).

I've gotten lucky in a lot of games, so take what you can get. Play on for sure, the better players, like 1900 always seem to expect resignation even less. It's like an inverse, when you are weaker (or at when I was), I expected resignation more. I've seen some great comebacks against me from determined opponents, and I have done likewise at times.

You can almost figure that you were playing for that blunder, given quick moves and an unrated player.

Polly said...

I had also said to him when he was going on about my not resigning was "I have a lot of experience. I wanted to see if you could win it. You don't learn if every opponent just resigns."

LinuxGuy said...

I've been in that situation in online chess many a time and will block the pawn with my bishop to "let them know", and also would have known to step in front of the pawn, not to the side. I also have had this same thing happen to my benefit quite a few times, where the stop-path to the pawn got blocked needlessly.

Last time something like this happened online it was his queen vs. my pawn (winning for my opponent, naturally), but when they queened, they then moved their queen all the way down next to my king and so I took it. Then they wanted a takeback and left. I am not giving a takeback on a supposed mouseslip if someone is dumb enough to needlessly get their queen next to my king when there were safer ways to win and the board is otherwise empty, and they aren't even showing the usual winning technique, per se.

So yeah, I'd say this stuff does happen, after all, they should know that that's all you are playing for. In all the games I've played I've seen a total of one guy resign early just because he lost an exchange and pawn. It was third round, he looked totally drained, was a few hundred points weaker, and it was a long drive home for him. It's never been like in the books for me where someone loses a pawn and says "the rest is a matter of technique, I'll just have to resign your majesty."

I'd say you were surprisingly gracious about it. It's not like you both had an hour left on the clock and you were keeping him from something.

LinuxGuy said...

And the funny thing is that this person I mentioned, he would have had to moved his queen forward two more squares for it to make any sense, not just one square. People do this stuff, why else would we play on?

Polly said...

I just had to reread this post:

to remind myself why people don't resign when one thinks they should. There are blunders out there just waiting to happen.

chesstiger said...

Oh boy, what a sore loser. It's indeed your right to play until mate. Whiny bastard your opponent. Probably a show off as he wins, whiny when he losses (according to him probably always undeserved).

For the rest no comment since i am still battling the slump i got from you. "lol"

Mr_Toad said...

A wonderful read. Please may I quote you in my blog and, if you are feeling benevolent, could I publish one of your games (your choice)?

Anyways, great blog, keep up the good work. Thx for visiting my blog "Celebrate Chess".

Polly said...

Mr. Toad: Feel free to quote me. You can use one of the games or just link to post that the game is in.

Anonymous said...

"Oh boy, what a sore loser."

From this post's content, its hard to tell which person your comment addresses.

Always remember when there are children present and act professional and polite regardless of how your opponent acts.

Polly said...

Anon: I'm not sure quite what you meant when you said ""Oh boy, what a sore loser."

From this post's content, its hard to tell which person your comment addresses.

Always remember when there are children present and act professional and polite regardless of how your opponent acts."

I believe Tiger was addressing the actions of my opponent.

I was pissed at myself for how I played, but I would never say anything rude to my opponent. I was aggravated enough to play on in a position that I might resign under other circumstances, but that's not being a sore loser.

Mr_Toad said...


One assumes you're just trolling? Chesstiger says "Whiny bastard your opponent" so there's no question about who he thinks the 'sore loser' is.

I've gone through the original post a second time and it is clear that, although upset, Polly was determined to act in a polite manner - and succeeded admirably in so doing.

IMHO your admonition beginning "always remember" was unnecessarily sanctimonious. Your use of the descriptor 'professional' was inappropriate.

Neither was there any reference to children being present. If indeed, children were present, I would ask how being exposed to adult disagreement at the chess board could be compared in any way to the pernicious effects of TV and films which society inflicts on them in terms of exortations to violent behaviour, invitations to disrespect institutions, their own parents etc etc?

Michael Goeller said...

Very amusing -- especially the amazing turn of events at the end. Of course, it was HE who should have resigned!

I have had a few cases where my opponent's antics got under my skin and we both end up slamming down pieces. I always feel stupid afterward, having let my anger get the better of my judgment. After one game like that my opponent told me that it had all started because he had "gotten mad at me" because I had said "check" after playing Bxh7+ and you "only say check to children." Still angry at the piece and clock slapping that followed (symbolic violence to each other, no doubt), I responded: "Based on how you played, I thought you could use the assistance." That did not help matters....

At the end of another game where my opponent should have resigned well over an hour before the end -- with my ride waiting and me using only a minute of my own time -- the jerk decided to resign with mate in two forced. So I said, "I refuse to accept your resignation ... you must play until mate." He sheepishly did so.

I always tell kids I coach that chess teaches us to control our emotions and think rationally. Think before you move. Be logical and rational in your decision making. Stay cool: good decisions can only be made in a "cool" state and not in a "hot" state. But I have had a couple games over the years where my opponent's behavior just got me riled.

At my most recent tournament, though, I think I kept it under control. I had a first round opponent who was lost on move 5 but played right until mate, with me winning a pawn, then the Exchange, then a piece, then another piece along the way. He even left the board at one point for a full hour. It was a team tournament, so I made up a favorable story for him in my head, imagining that he just did not want to be the first person on his team to lose. And I told myself that I didn't want to end my game before I had seen how my own teammates did. And then I turned it into a test for myself to see if I could play precisely the best move at every point. In the end, with mate in one, he did not resign. I made him wait for a full minute with the sword over his head, until he had to laugh as I finally delivered mate.