Sunday, August 22, 2010

Riding the Orient Distress Right Out of Town

Normally when I play in a tournament that I have flown to, I spend Sunday night at the hotel.  That way I don't have to worry about how long my game is going to be, or whether I'll make my flight on time.  There have been times when I've taken a red-eye flight back home.  With 11:30 pm departures, games running late are not an issue.  However I wasn't leaving California after the tournament.  I was heading down to San Diego to spend a few days visiting my nieces.  It's great having family out in California.  Makes for a good excuse to spend extra time out there.

As regular readers of this blog know, I'm not the most organized person on the planet.  At times I'm "Last Minute Molly" when it comes to little details such as how will I get from Irvine to San Diego.  My original intent was to rent a car in Irvine and drive down to San Diego.  I was going to need a car in San Diego anyway.  However when I went online to try to book a car the prices for a one way rental were insane.  It was going to cost over $100 a day even for a little rinky-dink economy car.  I even tried where I normally have really good luck getting a reasonable price.  I had gotten an excellent deal on a one way rental from Hilton Head to Savannah last fall, so I figured I could do just as well.  Wrong!!!  California is not South Carolina and Georgia.

Time for plan B.  What was plan B? Could I get a ride from someone heading to San Diego after the tournament?  Was there a train to San Diego?  Amtrak has train service to San Diego.  Next question.  How often and how late do they run?  It turns out they run a number of trains and they run one as late as 11:09 pm.  I would only need that train if I played the full 6 hours from 3:00 pm to past 9:00 pm.  Not likely that would occur, but at least I had late options if necessary.

The problem with leaving on the last day of the tournament is having to check out of the room ahead of time.  That means having everything packed and ready to go ahead of time.  I was a little slow getting up on Sunday because I had stayed up late playing hearts with friends.  It was the renewal of an old tradition from the 80s.  Consequently I found myself running around the room throwing stuff in the suitcase as I'm eating breakfast on the the move.  Eat a few spoonfuls of cereal, throw a few things in the suitcase,  eat a few strawberries, pack up my assorted chargers for my various electronics, so on and so forth.  Also I was getting bombarded with instant messages from someone who was upset about one the decisions voted on by the delegates.  I don't type really fast, and when I'm trying to do three things at once, eat, pack and message I slow down even more.

Fortunately I didn't have to check out until 1:30, so I would have time to clear out of the room after the delegates meeting was done.  I finally got my computer and headed down for the second day of the delegates meetings.  As I got there they were discussing suspending the rules in order to go back and reconsider one of the decisions voted on the day before.  Yes it was the decision that I had gotten bombarded about via Facebook messenger and my email box.  It was decided to hold off implementing the rule change until January of 2012.  

Here is how John Hillary of Western Chess described it:  "Motion by Mike Atkins to suspend the rules to delay implementation of abolishing the 5-minute deduction. Steve Immitt in New York has apparently been haranguing everybody who will take his IMs, and and we get to waste a lot of time on this to placate him. Lots of smoke and mirrors. Since I've spoken against this, it would be unfair for me to summarize everyone's argument. We're up to 9:45 now, no real progress. Several claims that the Delegates "didn't understand" what they voted on. I certainly did. Motion to delay passed implementation for a year. Idiots."

I guess I'm an idiot since I not only voted to delay, but I spoke in favor of delaying.  If that was the most idiotic thing I did all day, then Sunday would have been a good day.  However there's still this matter of playing another under rated kid from California later that afternoon.  Despite Hillary's perception of no progress in the meeting, we actually breezed through the remainder of the agenda.  The meeting adjourned at 12:05 which was 55 minutes ahead of schedule.  

I stayed in the meeting room to finish up my round 4 train wreck post.   I had not paid for additional internet time in my room, so it was finish the post in the meeting room or wait until I got to San Diego.  Considering that I did absolutely no blogging in San Diego, it would have been back in New York when I'd finally get around to finishing my round 4 post.  Since it's the only one of my US Open posts that has generated any sort of comments, I'm glad I got it up in a somewhat timely manner.  My remaining posts have been rather late and very out of date.  Perhaps my readers enjoy my train wreck stories more then those moments when I play decent chess.

To make a long story short, I manage to clear out of the room on time, go out for lunch and make it back in plenty of time for round 9.  I had forgotten to write down the train times for getting to San Diego, so before the round I asked Kim Cramer to look up the times for me.  Kim runs the registration table and chess control at all the big nationals, so I knew she would still have internet access.  She gives me the times starting with 5:09 pm.  I wrote the time down, and said to her "That's rather early.  If I can make that train then something has gone horribly wrong."  You would think after "me and my big mouth" remarks on my part I'd know better then to say something like that.  

I grab a piece of paper and make a list of train times:

5:09 (WTF happened? or Gift from Caissa!)
6:11 (Oh crap! or Somebody played too fast?)
8:17 (4 hour game with an hour to spare.)
9:31 (5+ hour game, and/or extended good byes.)
11:09 (Last game done.  Miss this train, spend the night in the station.)

Now at least I knew how I would get to San Diego.  The only question that remained was how would I get to the station without taking a taxi.  The taxi ride would cost more then the train ticket.  I figured depending on what time I finished I could find a ride with someone who was heading out at that point.  However before I could figure that all out, I still had a game of chess to play.  So what happens when my score is 3 out of 8?  I get paired down again!  Not only do I get paired down, I play another kid, and another female.  I'm not sure if I've ever played another woman in the US Open, but I've certainly never played more then one, much less three in one US Open.

I had Black which actually I was very happy about.  I was even happier when she opened 1. e4.  In fact I was very pleased with how things were going until I noticed on move 14 that I was down a piece!  How the hell did that happen?  She walked into a line where Black wins a pawn.  Unfortunately in this case Black had a serious brain fart, and totally misplayed the line.  After White plays 10. Nxc6 Black is supposed to simply recapture.  Instead I played 10...Nxd2.  It wasn't until her 14th move I realized I had misplayed the moves and was down a piece for the pawn I "won".

I finally noticed when she played 14. Nbd5.  She has all these really annoying threats, and I'm thinking to myself "Wow she's gotten a lot of play for that pawn.  She might trap my rook on a8.  I haven't developed my light squared bishop....Hey wait! Why do I only have  two bishops and she has two knights and a bishop?  Where did my knight go?"

That is probably one of the most sick feelings to have in a game.  I'm worrying about losing the exchange or giving back the pawn, and then realize I'm already down material.  WTF?  She launched a vicious attack, won pawns and forced me to make trades that I didn't want to make.  By move 24 she was forcing a pair of rooks off the board, and I was going to lose more pawns.  I resigned at that point.  I was shell shocked.  Totally crushed by an 11 year old girl.  Don't let anyone tell you that girls play more positional type of games.  Not true.    Why I played the opening that way defies logic or explanation.  However I give my young opponent credit for how methodically she forced trades and made threats.  Here's the game:


My snarky comment about not needing information about the 5:09 train had come back to haunt me.  It was just after 4:00 pm.  We played less then an hour.  I could make that train with no trouble if I could find a ride to the station.  I was ready to get out town, and go down to San Diego for my real vacation.  Dewain Barber was willing to give me a ride as he was getting ready to leave.  I just wasn't sure if my niece would be ready to pick me up for that early an arrival.   I also wanted to say good bye to a few people first. Skulking out of town on Amtrak was not how I wanted to exit the scene.

I took the 6:11, which was still way earlier then I anticipated.  I had not planned to lose the last round in an hour.  However bad things happen, and one has to find the silver lining.  What was the silver lining behind the black cloud?  Views that I've never seen on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor line. Views that I would not have seen in the dark on the 8:17 or 9:31 train.  This is what I saw from my seat on train #784, Pacific Liner to San Diego.

My early arrival in San Diego also allowed me to enjoy some outstanding pizza and local brews with my niece.  Losing horribly doesn't have to be too horrible.

So where do I go from here? One anonymous poster asked me what has happened to my chess?  I don't have an answer yet, though a few wins since I have gotten back makes me feel that all is not lost.  I have a lot going on as I prepare for my black belt test this fall.  In a future post I will discuss some of the challenges I'm facing, and how I might be able to apply them to my chess. 


LinuxGuy said...

I remember there were a group of us that were addicted to chess in college and would play between classes. Every other game was like suddenly in the middle of it "Wait, when did I lose my piece?"

The NxBb3 was only "a trade", so you didn't get the Nc6 piece back. At first, I thought it looked okay too, but would have played it right (since you are winning the pawn anyway) without thinking about it too much.

That 5 minute deduction from starting time is sort of a really strange issue. On the one hand, it makes setting the time on the clock tougher for some, OTH, if your opponents clock accidentally doesn't get set for delay, you can claim that you want some of those 5 minutes back. If it weren't for the latter fact, I'd like to keep the 5 minutes AND get the delay! :-D

LinuxGuy said...

Actually, I have an old model digital time clock (1999 is old for a digital clock, I guess). So when I play duel time-controls instead of sudden-death, I can't use the delay on the clock and tell my opponents that (because I have to modify a preset time to subtract 5 minutes - actually, I add time to a quicker control).

Luckily, in dual-time controls, the 5 seconds isn't really an issue like it is in sudden-death.

CMoB said...

You should've played 10...Qxc3. Btw, you could've played ...Nxe4 at move eight allready.

Polly said...

The deduction for delay is a hold over from when there were not many digital clocks. As digital clocks became more prevalent the rule was modified to state that it was preferable not to deduct time for delay, but that the organizer had the option.

The new rule would eliminate the practice all together. I actually agree with that. Deducting time is confusing, particularly if one organizer does it, but another doesn't.

The dispute over the new rule was over the fact that g/30 which is dual rated (quick & regular) was still allowed to be rated that way even with the 5 minute deduction which would become g/25 5 second delay. The effect of the new rule would be that the organizer would have to run tournament as G/25 5/delay, but it would only be quick rated. The debate was whether or not to allow g/25 d/5 to be dual rated.

Many organizers who run G/30 take the deduction for the delay in order to fit the scheduled games into the allocated time. I have to do that in order to get the 3 games scheduled for my Monday night club done before we're supposed to clear out. Not being able to deduct the time would add another 30 minutes to the schedule. 30 minutes that we don't have.

Believe me I'd like to have the extra 5 minutes along with the delay, but I have time issues. My g/30 tournaments are my most popular format.

Polly said...

CMoB: I realized afterward in my analysis that I could have played 8...Nxe4. However I feel as though after the trades White has better development and might get play for the pawn. I was playing the line as if he had played 8. f3 which is a common mistake against 7...Qa5.

10...Qxc3 is a very interesting move which I had not considered. It took me a few tries to find the proper move order since some the lines I still lose a piece.

Simplest is 10...dxc6. Then Black has a lot of possibilities to pick up more material.

My move choice was simply forgetting that I don't get the piece after the queen trades.

CMoB said...

10...dxc is another possibility, true. But your advantage would be more significant after 10...Qxc3 as you leave White with a permanent weakness. Doubled pawns on the c file after 11.Qxc3 Bxc3+.

John Hillery said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Hillery said...

Re: 5-minute deduction. Nothing personal, I just don't believe in do-overs. We voted on this on Saturday, and the Delegates knew exactly what they were doing. Then Steve Immitt squealed like a pig, and we got to do it all over again on Sunday. If Steve (or you) wants to squeeze four games into one evening. it should be done honestly by persuading the Delegates to lower the limit for regular rating to G/25. Instead, he's been taking advantage of a silly loophole, and now he's complaining that it's being plugged. Three-martini lunch, anyone?

Liquid Egg Product said...

Perhaps my readers enjoy my train wreck stories more then those moments when I play decent chess.

1. Humans simply seem to find bad and evil more interesting than good and uplifting. It's the same compulsion that results an article like "The Fountain Pen Serial Killer Strikes Again" generating more views than "Kids Feed Over 100 Homeless".

2. Most humans also feel better about themselves when they see someone else fail. No one will say that out loud, but it's true.

OK, now I have to catch up with a couple of your other posts.

Polly said...

John: I don't squeeze 4 games in, but I do have 3 rounds, and it's tough finishing up by 11:30 even deducting the time. I have tried many different formats at my club, and the g/30 has been my most popular format. The only time I can get people to play 1 game a week at G/90 is for the club championship.

When I tried things like 2 games a week @ G/40, I would get 3 or 4 people, and they would say "let's make it game/30 and play everything this week."

I've had people trying to persuade me to do 4 rounds like Steve, but impossible. The compromise I started breaking up the tournament into smaller sections so that 3 rounds would determine a winner for the most part.

I was disappointed that the 2nd half of the split motion didn't pass. I understand people's reluctance to vote on it, but I still don't think it was well presented. Maybe g/30 isn't so popular in CA, but it's not just Steve and me who run these events and deduct the time for delay in order to fit into the scheduled time slot.

I'm not going to go to g/30 and no delay, because I don't want the headaches of 14h, especially when I end out playing. I play when there would be an odd number otherwise.

I'd like to see the deduction eliminated because 1) It's confusing when playing in different organizer's events and 2) I could use the extra 5 minutes. On the other hand I'd like G/25 d5 dual rated in order not to hurt what is a popular format at my own club.

Hopefully this will all get sorted out in Orlando next year. Though realistically I'm afraid G25 d/5 will end out being quick rated only.

Polly said...

CMoB: I do agree that the doubled c pawns give White a weakness that Black can try to exploit. It may take awhile for Black to take advantage of it.