Anyone who works a Monday through Friday 9 to 5 job knows what it's like to have the Monday morning blahs. Great weekend followed by having to go back to work Monday morning. Since I left the corporate world in 1992 or I should say the corporate world left me, I don't experience the Monday blahs like most people. If I have to get up early on a Sunday to go direct a tournament, then I might have the Sunday morning blahs. All that being said, it doesn't necessarily mean I love Mondays.
This particular Monday it was rather dreary and a bit of rain. I woke up around 7:00, and then rolled over and went back to sleep. Before I knew it, it was 10:00 am. Had my weekend of Tae Kwon Do training wiped me out that badly, or was it just the weather? Perhaps if I knew how the rest of the day would go maybe I would have just stayed in bed.
I had a bit of a mishap at Tae Kwon Do. We were doing a kicking drill, and somehow while trying to execute a roundhouse kick I landed flat on my back. I've fallen plenty of times when my balance has been off, but not as hard as this landing. Also I fell squarely on my back, and it went into spasms. Fortunately since I happened to have had with my doctor that day, I was able to have him check it out and give me a physical therapy referral. He felt it was best to not mess around with it, and start PT as soon as possible.
It was kind of ironic given that one of the main reasons for having the doctor's appointment was to get him sign my medical clearance for Black Belt preparation and training. He did sign the form! I must say my road to Black Belt seems to be filled with potholes. First the broken ankle and now a cranky back. Hopefully this will not entail another delay. I just want to get past this hurtle and move on to the next challenge.
Every week I send out an email announcing the next tournament being played on Monday night at the Bob Peretz Chess Club. I try to get people to let me if they're coming. That way I can get names into the computer ahead of time. I got about 8 people who told me they were coming. I figured I would have another 6 to 8 people who would just show up. With my back barking at me I was hoping it would be a simple tournament, and that I would not have to play. I guess my buddy Murphy had other plans in mind for me. I had 22 players that I put in four quads and one 6-player Swiss. At least that's what I thought I had.
I starting moving the players into their respective sections and announcing pairings. Quads are a nice format because the players know who their opponents are and what color to play. Once the sections are set up, they pretty much direct themselves. The problem was I got to the 4th section and realized I had forgotten to put one of the late arrivals in. His rating would put him into either the 2nd or 3rd quad, so I had to undo some of the sections and figure out where he belonged. This also meant I had 23 players, thus making it an odd number. This meant I needed to play.
I quickly switched people around and set up 6 quads. I know the club has grown and gotten stronger when I find myself playing in the 5th quad. I managed to get all the 1st round pairings out, and hoped that I would have time to write out the pairings for the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Even though I do everything on my computer, I don't bring a printer. Parking is too much of a crap shoot to bring a printer. Sometimes I'm parked several blocks away. Most nights it's not such a big deal to have handwritten pairings. This particular night, especially with the delay hand writing the pairings slowed things down.
Fortunately my first round game didn't go the entire hour. Silvio and I played for the 108th time. I beat him for the 59th time. He's beaten me 32 times and we have 17 draws. Every time we play he does something different in the opening. If I'm Black against him I never know what he'll start with. This time I was White and opened with 1. c4. We had one of our typical games where he plays a bunch of random moves in the opening, and I waste time responding to the randomness. Here is the game.
This gave me time to write out 2nd and 3rd round pairings so that everyone could mark their results and find their next opponent without me making lots of announcements. Not having to do pairings in between each round gives me the chance to concentrate on my own games. Not that it helped me in round two. I had one of those games where it went down to an ending that probably could have been held, but the clock eventually caught up with me.
In round 3 I played Guy Colas, Joshua's father. Guy and I usually have very close games, but more often then not he gets a big advantage on the clock. The result being, I often lose on time or have a time pressure induced implosion. It looked like I was just going to run out of time in a position where material was even. He had a passed pawn on h3, and a potentially troublesome queen side majority. We reached the following position after I played 55. Qf2.
I had a little over a minute left, and he had 10 minutes left. Black's best move here is 55...Bxf3 followed by 56...Qf5. Taking the h pawn and allowing Black to trade queens would allow him to convert the queen side majority into an unstoppable passed pawn. Instead Guy played 55...Kf5. After he let go of the king he flinched. Guy doesn't have a very good poker face. At first I thought "What's the big deal? We're going to trade bishops, I'll get a couple checks and win the h pawn but I'll still have clock issues." The game continued 56. Bxf4 Kxf4 57. Qg3+ At this point I realize that no matter what Black does he's in big trouble. 57...Kh5 leads to 58. Qg5# He played 57...Kf5. I played 58. Qxh3+ winning his queen on d7. That was a big break for me. A potentially ugly evening turned out to be a modest gain of 9 rating points.
However the rating points would not last long after a horrendous Thursday at the Marshall Chess Club. It started off with my having to play Joshua Colas in the first round. We went through a period where we played each other two straight weeks in the first round. After that happened I had asked the director to try avoid pairing us in the first round since we come to the city together. Since I had not had to play him in a long time I kind of forgot that there was always a possibility we would get paired. We had not played since March when we had the back to back weeks of playing. It was kind of ironic that we ended out playing since I had chosen not to play him the night before in his simul.
On Thursday nights my second round opponent is often Jay Bonin's first round opponent. Often he gets my first round opponent in the second round. I figured that would not happen this time because his opponent Black in the first round just as I had. If there aren't many upsets and the rating differential isn't too big the pairing program can usually make it so colors alternate. However for the second week in a row, I would end out getting Black twice in a row. I was paired against Scot Mc Elheny. I hate playing Black against him because he plays an annoying line against my Accelerated Dragon. I decided I would play a little differently. However as this Wacky Wednesday worthy miniature demonstrates, sometimes "it's better to deal with the devil you know, not the devil you don't know."
Ouch! However despite losing in less then 10 minutes, I was not the first one done. Grandmaster Michael Rohde won his game in even less time. That's not supposed to happen on board two! I finally got White in round three, but that did not make things any better. The game lasted a lot longer, but clock issues cost me in a drawish ending.
This was one of those nights that I would have been perfectly happy to get the bye in the last round. I would have taken the train back instead of riding back with Josh and Guy. As it turned out the number was even so I had a last round game. What I didn't know before the start of round four that Josh was tired and withdrew. Guy told me they would be waiting for me to play my game. If I knew he was withdrawing, I probably would have withdrawn too and we all could get home earlier. However once the pairings went up, I wasn't going to tell my opponent "Sorry I'm not going to play." If I had withdrawn before the pairings went up, my fourth round opponent would have been the one to get the bye. However I didn't feel it was right not to play.
One side of me wanted to play 5 or 10 moves and offer a draw. However I can't bring myself to do that even if the situation would excuse such an action. My opponent was playing in his first tournament so the least I could do was play a real game and see what happened. I ended out getting a third Black because he had played Black in rounds two and three. One never knows how weak or strong an unrated opponent is going to be. He played solidly and we ended out drawing anyway. However I felt better about the game being a legitimately played draw.
I took this entire week off from playing chess. I was away on Monday and Thursday we went out to dinner with one of our neighbors. This weekend I'll be playing in the New York State Championship. Because I play every year, I tend to do things on auto-pilot. I didn't even look at the format for this year's tournament. I just automatically entered the under 2000 section because there's never been an Under 1800 section. However after a little exchange of comments on Facebook I found out there is an Under 1800 section this year. The question is, should I switch to that section or take my chances in the Under 2000 section? I'll make up my mind once I see whether or not the Under 1800 section is loaded with under rated little kids playing up a section or two.