Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Funnies

This is not a new weekly feature to supplement Wacky Wednesday. When one feels like crap, is bored silly, whose brain is mush and has nothing better to do, a little low brow blogging does the trick. If you want deep thought and high brow blogging go read Transformation's latest post. If your brain is ready for the weekend, then pull up a chair. You've come to the right spot.

We're into round three of Tournament of LEPers. No huge surprises at the top so far. Donnie decided we needed to spice things up with some trash talk on the comments portion. We are a pretty mild mannered bunch of bloggers if you ask me. No great smack downs or flame wars. I guess since we're not a forum with trolls lurking about, things are pretty tame. However in honor of Donnie's trash talk efforts, I have posted a few comics from my collection of chess related stuff. I apologize for the marginal quality of the scans.

Being the only female in this tournament, I thought this second comic was appropriate. However last night all this hen delivered was a rotten egg.

At the USATE they give out an upset prize each round. One year I had the misfortune of being on the losing end, not only for the round, but for the entire tournament. In the Chess Life article that year they listed the prizes. When they mentioned the biggest upset, they printed my opponent's name and mentioned that he beat an unnamed 1800 player to protect the guilty. Fortunately since both our scoresheets were total gibberish it did not get published. Through the years I've actually had three games of mine published in Chess Life. All losses. Before I retire from chess, I'd like to get a win published there. I guess I shouldn't complain. Many patzers like me have never had a game published in Chess Life.

This year the biggest upset occurred in the first round. A 1232 lost to a 233 for a 999 point upset. They post the scoresheets on a board behind the results table. I copied down the moves because I was curious as to what a game between a 1200 and 200 was like. Today I finally got around to sticking it into Chess Base. Some of the notation was a little sketchy, but I think I got all the moves in correctly. I have no idea what the ages were of the two players, but I was actually impressed that the 200 didn't hang anything. Some of her moves were very passive, but white didn't take advantage of them.

White's 28. Nxe5 was interesting. Was it a valid sacrifice try with his follow up of 29. d6? I was impressed that black found 29...Qe8 to hold against Bxf7+. Black should have played 31...Be6 instead of Qe6. When white played 32. Rxf7 I was thinking "Isn't the queen hanging on a2?" Then I realized that if black takes the queen she gets mated with Rxf8. After the queens were traded I liked how she brought her king back towards the middle to counter any slight play he might have with e and d pawns.

I don't know whether white had resigned or might have lost on time after black's 37th move. It's pretty hopeless for white with the queens and a pair of rooks off the board, however if I outrated my opponent by 1000 points I might be inclined to make her prove to me that she could mate with the two bishop advantage. He may not have realized that she was only rated 233. Obviously she was aware of the rating difference since she submitted the game for biggest upset. Actually I probably shouldn't say obviously. The year I was on the losing end of the biggest upset, I was the one who told my opponent that the game would probably win the upset prize for the round.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tournament of LEP'ers Rd. 2 Ugly Loss!

Maybe I should should follow the rule of thumb concerning time zone changes. One day per hour of time difference to get yourself back on own time. Let's see, that means I should have waited until Monday to play this game. Having a miserable cold probably didn't help matters either, but enough with the excuses. I got totally outplayed and payed dearly for some passive moves. It's games like this that make me want to chuck the English and play something else. I'm just too damn lazy to learn something else.

Htas off to l3rucewayne for a well played game. Pay back will come next time!!

I have my work cut out for me in round three as I'm facing Wahrheit, one of the 2-0 scores. It didn't take long l3rucewayne to report the result. It was up before I finished my analysis. This isn't really deep. Perhaps he'll add more comments to his blog if he posts the game.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wacky Wednesday! - The Jet Lag Edition

I got back from Spain last night. Our flight from Madrid to New York was almost three hours late. This was a combination of mechanical issues and crappy weather in New York. I did not get to play any chess over there. Unlike a number of European countries I've visited most of the locals don't speak much English. As for myself "No hablo Espanol". Despite the lack of chess we had a very nice time, and with the xception of Saturday afternoon and evening it was rain free.

Today's WW comes from a game that I played last summer the day after getting back from Budapest. The lesson I learned that night was don't play G/30 the day after returning from six time zones away. In the first round I was up a piece, overlooked my opponent's hanging rook, and I think I flagged. I didn't have a complete scoresheet. In the second round I flagged up a pawn. In the third round I had this nice position that I manged to mangle big time.

I'm black in this position. What's not to like about black's position? Up a pawn, protected passer on d4, excellent pawn structure and active pieces. White's pawn structure is fractured, his pieces aren't very active, and his king is in the middle.

White plays 31. e5? Black to move and lose.

31...Re8??? (31...Qxe5+ "seems" like a strong response) 32. Bd5+ Kh8 33. Qxg3 1-0

The moral of the story: Don't play chess when severely jet lagged. I will not be playing tonight.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wacky Wednesday from Seville - Edited

When I first wrote this post I was at a internet place where I couldn't get at the diagram posted below.  However I'm married to an internet junkie who decided even once we got back to our hotel he needed to get back on the internet even at the rip off price of 6 euro for an hour.  So now I've been able to get at the picture and give this week's WW position.

I stumbled across this position from an old score book while looking for last week's WW entry. This is an oldie but goodie.  This is from back before sudden death.  I'm white and it's my 40th move in a 40/90 time control.  I managed to flag before finding the killer move of 40. Qxf8+.  The funny thing was at the time of the game I didn't even see it.  I played 40. Qxa6? as my flag dropped.

Who sees the rest of white's forced mate after 40. Qxf8.

I´m wacked out as I´m totally jet lagged and still have USATE hangover.

Murphy must have been a frequent flier.  These are his laws of travel.

1.  The more time you leave to get to the airport, the less traffic there will be.

2.  The earlier you arrive, the later your flight will be delayed.

3.  If the weather is nice where you're departing from, it will suck wherever the plane is coming from.

4.  You will miss your connection.

I´m here for the Seville Marathon. I won this trip in a raffle. I´m staying at this sports training center where all these rowers from all the world over train. It´s kind of cool. I feel like I´m at Olympic fantasy camp. Maybe I can get a game of chess with one of the Russian rowers.

I´m hoping to visit a chess club when I´m here. If I do I will take pictures and post about it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

USATE Photos

Team Rook Around The Clock Tonight.
Bd. 3 Alan & Bd. 4 Silvio in front
Bd.1 Mike & Bd. 2 Polly

Chess Chix
I'm hanging out with Laura Ross, Shirley Ben-Dak and Alanna Katz. Shirley surprised us all by dropping in for a visit to the event.

An outstanding opening move at Ruth Cris Steak House.
Food was excellent as was the service, but way too expensive!!! I can't afford too many meals like that. The company was excellent.

Our team is joined by another Mike. Our teams were competing in the same category. We both ended out at 3-3.

This is Carol Jarecki's assistant TD Cricket. She plays a mean game of chess. I did a post on the Signs You're Having a Bad Tournament. Number 4 was about Cricket.

Giancarlo and Dario Dell'Orto in the bughouse tournament.

Killer bughouse team. Average rating 2300.
Hikaru Nakamura and Danny Rohde.

Monday, February 18, 2008

USATE Rd. 6: Ballroom Dancing With the Stars

The last round started a little late since a couple of matches went down to the bitter end. Trying to get at the pairings was insane. It looked like a sale at Filene's Basement. Except instead of hordes of crazed bargain hunters it was hordes of crazed chess players. I think some teams sent all four members up to find their pairings. I pushed my way through, and found our pairing. It was another one of those pairings where my team "Rook Around the Clock Tonight" was paired next to "Rook Around the Clock". We got paired way up against a team with 2038 average. We were on board 27 which seems to be in the cold section of the ballroom. I actually had my sweater on the entire time. Thanks to Deren Getz for taking this picture.

On the board next to us was Joel Benjamin's team "3:10 to Yermo". Abby Marshall was also on this team. They played the IS 318 Queens. An all girls team. I've gotten my butt kicked by a couple of those young ladies, bt they weren't able to match wins with GM Benjamin and company.

The 3 Grandmaster team of Zviad Izoria, Eugene Perelshteyn and Roman Dzindzichashvili with a 100 on board four faced off against Marc Arnold's team. Marc drew on top board, and Danny Rohde won in 7 moves on board four. Their teammates did not fair so well against the other grandmasters. So GGGg won the tournament. Personally I think it's totally unfair to allow a team like that. It takes the fun out of trying to come up with a well balanced team with the right blend of titled players and other ratings. Second of all, for the player on the opponent's fourth board it's like they didn't even get a game. It's like getting a forfeit win, except that one doesn't have to sit at the table for an hour.

The little kid on 4th board had a forfeit win and 5 losses. He'll get a clock for his trouble. I hope the Grandmasters gave him a few lessons in return for being their sacrificial lamb. They also should give him the team plaque.

Our match started out with great hopes for a good round. Our board one won his game, and our board four was actually up the exchange and pawn. I was holding my own against the 2060 I was playing. I got a crappy position out of the opening but somehow I defended pretty well and for a long time. Note to self: Next time take with the b pawn. Third board lost so it was coming down to what would happen on two and four. Unfortunately fourth board hung his rook so was now down a piece for a pawn. He played tough but eventually he lost. So now it's just me left. Unfortunately I lost a pawn, and was in a rook and pawn ending. The only thing in my favor was the clock, but even that wasn't helping.

Here is the game with no analysis. I'm too tired to go crazy with it.

Though a couple things to note. On move 28 I gave him double isolated pawns on the kingside, but they were keeping my kingside majority from doing anything unless I wanted to trash my pawn structure.

The interesting position was at move 43 when he played Ra8. I could not see any reasonable defense to Rh6. Then my move 45 of h5 was a big mistake. Somebody came by and asked me something. I don't think he realized I was still playing. The discussion was not well timed, and threw me off. I was hallucinating about possibly giving check with f5 followed by check with g5. I'm forgetting that g5 is no longer protected by the h pawn.

The game lasted almost five and half hours. I could have played all the way down to the bitter end, but I lost a second pawn and he now had 3 connected passed pawns on the queenside and I had one lonely pawn on the kingside that was going nowhere. I had a pounding headache and since only my winning would have salvaged the match I finally called it a night. It was weird being one the few games left in the ballroom. The crowds were all down in skittles room where they were giving out the awards as results came in. One thing about playing so long is there's not much noise and nobody's bumping into my chair.

Our team ended out 3 and 3. That was certainly better then last year when we kept losing to random lower averaged teams with weird board configurations. My record was slightly worse this year. 1 win, 3 losses and 2 draws. Last year was 1 win, 2 losses and 3 draws. Somehow this year was more satisfying because my losses were hard fought, and we didn't lose to any low rated players. We only got kicked out the ballroom for two rounds. And we did not end out in outer Mongolia, or worse the skittles roo. The lowest scoring teams played in there. That's as bad as the year my team got sent to another hotel to play.

Tomorrow I'm off to Seville, Spain. I missed this but Joe Ippolito said that during the speeches on Sunday night that he made mention of my delaying my trip bya few days to make the tournament. I wasn't even in the room since we took our sweet time leaving Ruth Cris.

Tomorrow I'll post some more pictures. I keep switching back and forth between my PC and my Mac to do these posts. The Chess Base stuff is easier on the PC. The pictures are mostly on the Mac.

Thanks for following along.

USATE Rd. 5: Still Ballroom Dancing

We're still in the ballroom. It wasn't a bad spot to be. At least I wasn't straddling two tables and the traffic behind my chair wasn't so bad. I think part of it was there weren't a bunch of NYC kids playing near us. When you're paired near a school team all their friends come to watch so there is always lots of people walking by.

We were paired down against a team with an average rating of 1425. It was a funny make up. Two adults rated 1800 to 2000, and two kids included one rated about 700. I played an 1890. I was up and down like crazy. Note to self: Don't drink two large cups of tea before the round. Around move 11 I had left the table. When I walked back into the ballroom my opponent is walking out the door. He's says "I've made my move. Do you want a draw?" I said "No, I'm here to play chess." The round had only been going for a 1/2 hour or so. What was that all about?

I'm doing this at a public computer because I don't have any more access on my laptop. I'm not paying another $9.95 to blog for an hour. I can't put my game in at the moment. It was an interesting game. I ended out drawing when I chucked my pawn advantage. Stupid ass move where he just takes the pawn and if I take his bishop, he takes mine. Grrrr. I really wanted the win. Our new fourth board won against the 700. Silvio was in a dead draw. Mike had an easy win at that point. My opponent offers me a draw after I dropped the pawn. At that point I took it since now my position was slightly worse even though the material was even.

Note: I put this game in after I got home. I'm glad I did not analyze it at the tournament. I would have been even more annoyed for missing 32. Na6 which wins the b pawn.

One round to go. I have no idea if we're in contention for the Under 1800 prize or not. We're going to get paired way up again. We'll see what happens. It would be nice to win the match, but easier said then done.

Don't ask me who's winning the tournament. There were 6 teams that were 4-0, including the 3 grandmaster team. Now there are two teams 5-0 because one match was a draw. I've been kind of oblivious to the rest of the tournament. Maybe this round I'll get in the room early enough to use my own set. Maybe I can get some pictures from the top boards.

There's still one match going and it's almost 3:30. It's a sea of humanity out there!

Later! People want the computer.

USATE Rd 4: Worse Seat In The House Part 2

Reassembler has a post on his blog about playing on Board 39 in the ballroom. It's noisy there with the doors banging closed and the constant chatter from the foyer. "Chess Nuts Boasting in an Open Foyer". Playing second board at Board 37 sucked big time. Board 37 is nowhere near 39. It took me awhile to find the board. The number sequence is totally wacked out and it's actually on the other side of the room by the podium. It's actually fairly quiet there, but I felt like I was playing on a major fault line. Our board is sitting on two tables and they're slightly split apart as you can see from the picture.

A round like this begs the question. What's so great about playing in the main ballroom? It's crowded, noisy, and people always bumping your chair as they squeeze through. It's even worse when people are trying to get past my chair because I usually have the chaired pushed way back because I'm either kneeling on the chair or standing over it.

This picture doesn't really show how cramped we were because board three was done when I took it. Alan kept putting his captured pieces near me. I was tempted to ask him if I could drop them on my board in place of a move. Oh right! The Bughouse tournament was later. Alert viewers might notice that black is missing a bishop. Unfortunately it's not on the h file which got cut out of the picture. It was not a good night for us. 1/2 - 3 1/2 was the final score.

When one plays as many one time control tournaments as I do, 40/2 G/60 can seem like an eternity. There were a number of moves where my opponent spent 10 to 15 minutes on it. Those are the times I go wandering around the room, get a drink of water or just go out and contribute to the noise in the foyer. When we hit 40 moves he had less then 2 minutes left. I had over 45 minutes. Perhaps if I had used as much time as he had maybe my position would not have been so ugly.

If had not been a team tournament I would have resigned much sooner then I did. I played on until I was going to lose my final pawn and he'd be up a piece and two pawns. At that point I knew there would be no sudden death implosions. At this point I was ready to be sociable and catch up with some friends.

Jerry Hanken made the trip east. He would normally be playing in the USATW in Los Angeles. I was quite surprised to see him out here. He's playing on a team with other chess journalists. They did a 50's related costume of the old style fedoras and suspenders. I look pretty happy despite losing in 4 1/2 hours.

Jerry talked about the differences between the USATE and USATW.

1. 200 more teams in the East.

2. Old or slow moving people get trampled by the hoards.

3. The team names and costumes are more clever and thought out in the East.

The winning team name was "Not Searching For Bobby Fischer Anymore." I'm not sure I have it exactly right. I have no idea who won best chess gimmick. Our team missed the festivities in the ballroom because we were enjoying our dessert and coffee at Ruth Cris, and paying the bill. The restaurant review will follow in a later post.

Gotta stop now. Next round is in 7.5 hours. I need my sleep.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

USATE Rd. 3 Giving "BU Winning Chances" Lots of Losing Chances

Sometimes I'm not sure it's such a good idea to know too much about your opponent's team. The rating range went from 1503 down to their alternate at 500. The alternate played this round. One would think that with such big rating differences from top to bottom that we would cruise the match quickly. We cruised, but we must have signed up for the long tour. It was not easy. It seemed at one point I looked up and we were down pawns on every board except mine. All I could think of was we'd have a repeat of last year's third round fiasco that sent us in exile to the outer Mongolia corridor.

Mike and Silvio were the first two to finish. Alan had another one of those crazy games where he was down two pawns early. Eventually he won a rook for a bishop but the opponent had these pesky looking passed pawns on the queenside. It was a crazy looking position with back rank mate threats for the opponent, but Alan came through again with another nice finish.

Once again I had one those boring looking games where I thought I had nothing. However a few small mistakes on my opponent's part gave me the opening I needed. Here's the crucial position:

I had just played 32. g4. He played 32... f6? This move is terrible for black. He spends rest of the game playing a knight down because it never gets back in play. Better would be 32... Ng5+ 33. Bxg5 hxg5. Up to this point I had been fiddling around waiting to see what was going to happen on the other boards. Once Silvio and Mike won I can take a draw, but I figured I had more play because of his dead knight. The game continued, 33. h4 Kf8 34. Bd2 Ke8 35. Bb4 Kf7 36. Rb7+ Kg8 37. Rb5 Kf7 38. Ba5 Rd7 39. Kf4 Nf8 At this point he picked up the knight puts it on f8 and before letting go he takes the move back and tries playing Ke8. I called the touch move. (Never try to slip a touch move by a TD.) I'm not sure this was critical tempo for him or not but he does waste time moving the knight back.

40. Bb4 Nh7 41. Rb8 g5+ 42. fxg6+ This was my second en passent in this game, and third one in the tournament for me. I think that's more en passents then all of last year combined. 42...Kxg6 43. Rg8+ Kf7 44. Rb8 Kg7 45. Kf5 Kf7 46. Bc5 Kg7 47. Ke6 Rf7 48. Kxd5 f549. gxf5 Rxf5+ 50. Ke6 Rf6+ 51. Ke5 Kg6 52. Be7 Ra6 53. d5 Kf7 54. d6 I debated about this move for awhile. I was concerned intially that he'd start get a bunch of checks, but it's easy for me to come towards the rook. The bishop on d6 pawn are working well together.

54...Ra5+ 55.Kd4 Ke6 56. Rh8 Rd5+? 57. Kc4 Rf5 (If he plays 57...Nf6 58 Bxf6 Kxf6 59. Kxd5.) 58. Rxh7 Rf7 59. Rxf7 Kxf7 60. Kd5 Ke8 61. Kc6?! I was so concerned about stalemate I missed forced mate in 2. 61. Ke6 h5 62.d7# He resigned.

So we won 4-0. This should put us back in the main ballroom with the big boys. Hopefully I can get some good pictures from the costume contest. My next post will be the food review after dinner at Ruth Cris Steakhouse.

Pre-Round 3 USATE Random Thoughts

I got up to check our pairing for this morning's round. I messed up on my pairing prognostication skills. I thought we'd get paired up. I was wrong. We get paired down against a team with a 1226 average. In the second round they beat up on some team of most likely little kids. Hopefully we can dispatch this team with ease so that we can end our exile from the main ballroom.

Tonight is the team name and costume contest so it's definitely a round that one wants to be playing in the ballroom to watch the action. Unlike reassembler, I haven't come up with my team name guesses. Maybe I'll take a closer look at some of the names and add them to this post. I can't believe there's a team with 3 grandmasters and 200 on board four. I think that really sucks. Hopefully they'll reinstate the 1000 point rule. I have no problems with grandmasters playing in the event. I think it's exciting for the players who get to play them, and exciting for spectators when they start facing each other in later rounds. However I think it's grossly unfair to stack the team with 3 grandmasters. I like it better when teams have to work hard to put together a balanced line up to stay under 2200. Also I feel bad for 4th board on the opposing team that has to play someone with a 200 rating. What a waste of time.

One of the great things about this tournament is seeing old friends. Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to see Shirley Ben-Dak. She was just visiting for a few hours and then would be heading back to Israel where she is attending college. She just dropped in to surprise all her friends. She played on my all girls team "The Vera Menchik Brigade" back in 1996. She was in second grade and played board two. Board three was Alanna Katz, and fourth board was Amanda Clare. Amanda is not playing chess at the moment, but Alanna is here so we did 12 year reunion picture.

The picture we're pointing at is the back view of our team shirts that we wore and modeled for the costume contest. We look like we're all the same height, but actually they were on the stage and I wasn't. Now they're my height and if we played as a team now, I'd be board three.

Another tradition at this tournament is getting together after the second round and playing hearts until late into the night. Here's the hearts gang.

We've been playing hearts back since the days of the tournament being in Somerset. We play some goofy variations such as hitting 100 on the nose drops the player back to zero. Nobody did that, but I shot the moon and took 26 off my score. Probably not a good idea since it made the game last another hour. My hearts handle for online hearts is Lunaqueen. (Moon queen.) I love to shoot.

Enough for now. Time to think about chess. 30 minutes to round three.

USATE Rd. 2: Board 1.....In the Small Ballroom

Quarter pairings are a pain in the butt. We get paired way up in round one. I told the guys we would probably get paired down against a team rated mid 1300s who won in the first round, and that we probably get booted out of the main ballroom. Sure enough our opponent's average rating was 1347. Our opponents were four high school kids who got paired way down in round one. We played on board 81. Boards 1-80 are in the main ballroom.

Playing in one of the side rooms is like being in regular weekend swiss. You don't get to be part of the funny give aways that Steve Doyle does, and you don't get to see who is the best dressed for Saturday evening. In fact we could hear the goings on from the main room as we had started our games for round two. It could be worse. We could be in the conference center wing with all the little kiddie teams. Years ago when I played board one on a team with little kids we would spend the entire tournament there. I used to call it playing in outer Mongolia. Our big moment would come if we made it into one of the rooms across from the small ballroom.

Our first board won in about 15 minutes. That's always nice to get a quick point early on. Later our fouth board would draw his lower rated opponent. I was having a totally boring game, so I spent a lot of time watching board three. At one point my teammate Alan had sac'ed a rook and his opponent had a passed pawn that looked unstoppable. Alan could have forced a draw. I'm thinking to myself, "Take the damn perpetual! What the hell are you looking at? I can probably draw and we'll win the match!" He doesn't do that. Now I'm thinking to myself that we're going to end out drawing the match and be banished to outer Mongolia with the Munchkins. He played beautifully and won his game. I offered my opponent a draw in a totally boring locked up position so we won 3-1. Phew!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

USATE Rd. 1: Disassembled by Reassembler 4 - 0 :-(

Greetings from Parsippany! So in my Wacky Wednesday post from two weeks ago Blunderprone left me a comment keep an eye for Reassembler and Globular at the tournament. So what were the odds that my team would get paired against their team? I guess pretty good because that's what happened. It was ugly. We were out rated on the top 3 boards by 300 - 400 points each. Fourth board was only 100 points, but the the result was the same. I was the first one done. It got kind of ugly at the end. Here's the game in all it's splendid ugliness.

I forgot my SD card and reader, so I had to actually input the moves into Chess Base by hand. Damn I get spoiled rotten. I guess if I was going to forget something, that was the least of my worries. I remembered my set, board, clock, reading glasses, iPod, chocolate and Mon Roi. What else do I really need?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Marshall's Lonely Hearts Chess Club

I had wanted to title this post the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, but in light of the tragic events in Illinois yesterday I thought better of it. My heart and prayers go out to the students and families. Such a senseless thing to happen.

What do chess loving women do on Valentine's Day? I guess not many of them chose to be playing chess. I was the only woman in "Four Heartfelt and Many Splendid Games Tonight!" That was Steve's holiday name for his weekly "Four Rated games Tonight!" In 2004 when the tournament fell on April 1st he titled the event "Four Foolish Games Tonight!" I think that title applied more to how my Valentine's night went. My heart was in every game I played, but there was nothing splendid about any of them.

The tournament started out with 14 players, and I was #14. That was going to make it hard to avoid the dreaded "please wait" in future rounds unless somehow I could win round one, or that the number of players stayed even through out the entire tournament. What were the odds of either of those things happening? I have no control over how many players enter for the second round, so all I could try to control was my first round result. Unfortunately Mr. Polyakin did not cooperate in my quest to win the first round and avoid the bye issue all together. This was game #21 between us, and like 18 out of the first 20 encounters I found myself looking at a butt ugly position with no redeeming features whatsoever. I was down the exchange, and after his 30th move I had the following choices:

a. Move my queen and lose a bishop.
b. Take the rook and give up my queen.
c. Capture the rook after it takes my bishop, and get back rank mated.
d. Stare at the position until my time runs out.
e. Resign.

I opted for e. This gave me time to plot my bye stratagy. One needs to commit to requested byes by round two. I asked Steve whether we got an odd or even number of late entries. He told me we were up to 17. I told him if that did not change I would take a 1/2 point bye for round 4. That's what I call the pre-emptive bye. Take a 1/2 pointer later to avoid the 1 pointer earlier. I didn't want to sit around for an hour. Despite some bad luck I've had requesting a 4th round bye, I decided I would resort to that tactic for this tournament. I would get to make the 11:14 train, hubby would wait up for me, and we'd open up the Rose wine that we received Thursday from the wine club we joined when we were in California.

At least this time when I wiggled out the second round bye, I didn't get paired down. However I did get paired against another one of the usual suspects, Moshe Uminer. This would be our 14th encounter. The first time I had played him he was unrated, and I lost. He was one of those strong unrateds, not a chess newbie. We always have interesting games with somebody having clock issues. This game was no different.

Moshe-Polly 021408.pgn

In round three I get paired against the player who got the bye because of my pre-emptive strike. Steve had found a house player for Andre to play. I think Andre suffered from a case of Polly's House Player Syndrome. He hung a piece on the 13th move against him. It figures that the night I opt not to take my chances on getting a decent house player, the house player is rated around 2000. Usually when I need the house player he's rated 1100-1300.

This is the first time I've played Andre. (Are rare occurance on Thursday! Playing somebody for the very first time.) He has just started playing again, but I've known him from directing together at the NYC scholastics. Andre is also Steve's substitute TD when Steve's out of town or when he's putting in 800 kids' names into his computer.

I had a funny moment in the game. In the previous round Andre had hung his knight by pushing the b pawn that was guarding it. On the 14th move I my game I also pushed my b pawn leaving my knight on c6 unguarded by the b pawn. It was guarded by the queen, but several times I almost moved the queen which would have left my knight to the same fate as Andre's. But why hang a knight when I can let my opponent offer his in exchange for my king?

andre-polly 021408.pgn

There went my 12 rating points from the last two weeks! But now I can look forward to 6 games of slow chess in Parsippany. If you're at the USATE look for me. I'm board two on "Rook Around the Clock Tonight".

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wacky Wednesday!

In keeping with my USATE theme here is another funny game from the team tournament. I was playing board three and in round one we got paired way up! They had a master on board three. Our board one wasn't even a master.

Every low rated dreams about beating a master. Some players never fulfill that dream. I did on that day, but I can't say that it was a satisfying win. It was a severe case of "finger failure". I can't remember the German spelling of the actual term, but it's the act of touching a piece that you did not want to move.

When he picked up his queen and then grabbed my pawn he had the "deer in the headlights" look. The two of us just looked at each other and said nothing. Our teammates watched to see what would happen next. The inner "Mrs. Nice Guy" wanted to say "You don't have to capture like that. I want a challenging game where I can learn something from playing a master." However this is a team tournament where every game point means something. My opponent resigned on the spot instead playing it out hoping perhaps I'd blunder back the queen.

Despite the 633 point rating difference it wasn't enough for the upset prize. There's always some monster upset like a kid rated 600 beating an overconfident adult 1800. Also winning the game did mot improve our chances in the match. We lost 3-1 instead of 4-0.

Four years later I would beat a master in the US Amateur Team. That would be my true first master scalp. This particular game was a fluke.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Round 1: Tournament of LEPers

It's funny how things work in the blogosphere. Liquid Egg Product made a short little post about playing on FICS and asked how know when other chess bloggers are on. One comment led to another, and a tournament was born. Thus a 10 player round robin between various bloggers has started this week. Here is the participant list in rating order:

kevingafni (drunknknite) 1898
NoTB (Tacticus Maximus) 1834
ppwchess (Polly) 1700
RockyRook (Rocky Rook) 1682
LiquidEggProduct (Donnie) 1678
RLP (Wahrheit) 1671
TheDarkKnightTwo (l3rucewayne) 1593
Rhuiden (Tom) 1530
gorckat (gorckat) 1465
mandalorian (chessloser) 1337

We are playing G/15 with a 30 second increment. This is my first time playing something slower then G/10 with no increment online. I usually am too distracted at the computer to play anything slower then blitz. Though for me the problem with blitz is, I suck! I hang stuff when I play fast, and I lose on time when I play too slow. When I play online it's even worse because spacially I have trouble with the one dimensional board. I've been playing blitz on FICS for about a month now. I keep doing stupid things like leaving my queen en prise, or overlooking mate threats. My FICS blitz rating is in the low 1300s. It's almost as bad as my CTS rating. I may have to include one of my FICS gems in an upcoming Wacky Wednesday post. Considering how this round went maybe I should have saved this for tomorrow.

Round one I'm black against Tom. He went on a sac rampage that didn't quite work.

On move 30 I did one of my typical online blunders. I attacked his queen with an unprotected rook. Fortunately for me, he didn't notice and simply moved the queen away. Phew! I thought that he was going to salvage a draw since he got in a whole series of annoying queen checks. It took me 12 moves to stop the checks and get the queens off the board. On move 65 I missed Qg4 mate. Instead I went pawn grabbing with Qxe3+. I guess that was as good as mate since he resigned.

Hopefully as the weeks go by I'll get used to playing slow online. Maybe I'll actually manage not to hang stuff. Stay tuned for upcoming rounds. Good luck everyone!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Woo Hoo! I Got Plus Score at Friday Action!!! **

** King Kong and Mike weren't there.

Okay so I didn't have my usual issues of having to get past my inability to get King Kong off my back. I also didn't have face playing Mike again after the January's candidate for my Wacky Wednesday post. I was number two in this month's quad. Even so it didn't mean I'd cruise through the tournament. I still had to face three strong kids who each have at least one win against me.

My first round opponent, Josh always plays me tough though I actually have a good record against him. 7 wins, 5 draws and only 1 loss. The last few times we've played we've drawn, and each time I was relieved to get the draw. Sometimes he'd win a pawn early and then I'd fight my way back to the point that a draw was pleasing result.

When I first started playing Josh he was in second grade. He was down right scary to play. He would attack wildly and get way ahead on the clock. I remember the first time I played him he had me totally beat over the board and on the clock. However like many kids I've faced, he fell into the trap of trying to out blitz me when I had 10 seconds on the clock. Then he started hanging pieces.

He's matured greatly in two years and has become a much more positional player. He gets solid positions and as long as he manages his time well he does fine. However there are times he still plays way too fast when it's not necessary. We reached this position after 29. Qd2.

I was not particularly happy with this position. I had blown a pawn on the 24th move after letting him pick up a crucial tempo with 23...Ne6. Even though the extra pawn is doubled I saw lots of problems for me after 29...Rxd6, 30. exd6 Qd7. Sooner or later b5 is coming, he'll be able able to trade off the c7 pawn and I may have difficulties holding onto my d6 pawn. He's ahead on the clock, but at this point I about 10 minutes and he has about 18 minutes. I'm not overly concerned about the time difference.

Here's where playing too fast catches up with him. After I played 29. Qd2 he replied 29...Kf8. It's a natural looking move, but is a mistake because I have 30. f5. The funny thing was when I played it I didn't see that the rook on d8 is hanging after he moves the knight away. I had mainly played it so that after the eventual Rxd6, exd6 I can work my bishop over to f4 to help defend d6. I was very surprised when he played 30...Rxd6 since after 31. exd6 I'm attacking both his queen and knight. Duh!

The game continued 31..Qd7 32. fxe6 Qd7 33. d7 Qe4+ 34. Kg1 Qb1+ 35. Bc1. He's out of checks unless he wants to sac his queen for one more. He resigns.

Round two was a messy game that I won. This set up the showdown between number one and two in the quad for round three. I was 2-0, and Harry was 1.5 - .5. I simply need a draw to win the quad, but I know Harry is not going to settle for a draw. Harry has beaten me with white the last two times we've played. Once again I lost the toss, and ended out with black.

I made the same mistake in the opening in both of those previous losses against him. I wasn't going to play that same move again if we went into that same line again. He surprised me as he went into the same line against my Accelerated Dragon that King Kong and Mike went into during the last two Friday Action tournaments. After I played 7...Qa5 he said "This looks familiar." I resisted the urge to say "This is the same line that I screwed up against Kevin and Mike in consecutive tournaments, but now I know what I'm doing." At least I thought I knew what I was doing until move 12 when I played the very natural and safe looking move of O-O.

Sigh. A chance to win a little money and pick up a decent number of rating points bites the dust. It's about a 15 minute drive from the tournament site back to my house. As I'm driving down I-95 I'm thinking to myself, "Geez, what a f-ing moron you are. You won a pawn, and then you play a stupid ass move and lose a piece. Can't you manage to not screw up when you have a chance to win money and gain rating points? You are such a loser!" I continued to berate myself for a few more minutes then it hit me. "Hello! You should have lost the first game. The only reason you didn't was because he played a move too fast. You were toast, but you got a break. So rounds one and three were a wash. You won a game that you probably should have lost. You lost a game that maybe you can win or draw. Quit your bitching."

By the time I got home, I had calmed down. It wasn't really such a bad night. I beat the two lower rated players, and I lost to the higher rated player. That's not a terrible result. I actually picked up 9 rating points. Sometimes I have to internally vent to work out my feelings. Then I can stand back and look at things more rationally. What would have happened if I lost the first game? Would that have put me in such a funk that I would have been off my game for the remaining rounds and gotten blown out with three losses? Who knows? Fortunately I did not have to answer that question. It actually felt damn good to get a plus score against the kids. That hasn't been happening lately.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Welcome To Wacky Wednesdays!!!

Last week Blunder Prone posted a butt ugly loss of his. We've all had them. Those horrendous games that we lose very quickly, or the agonizing hard fought game that implodes late due to some stupid idea we came up with. In the comments LEP suggested we have an ugly loss week in the blogs. With over 3200 rated games played over the course of 36 years I wouldn't be able to narrow it down to a few games to show in one week. So I've decided that hump day would become Wacky Wednesday where I'd share an amusing game from the Polly archives. Some of the games will have a story, and some of the games won't. Sometimes they'll be ridiculously short, and other times painfully long. In the interest of fair and balanced reporting, I will even show some games where I was the recipient of gift from my opponent. Contrary to popular belief, I do actually win short games sometimes due to opponent incompetence.

Since this is February and I'm getting ready to play in my 28th US Amateur Team I thought I'd start with a game from my very first US Team tournament back in 1978. I played fourth board on a stacked team. Bill Goichberg put together a team with Ken Regan on one (2363), himself on two (2327), Mark Ginsburg on three (2247) and me on four (1444) to bring the average down to 2095. Ginsburg was supposed to be our secret weapon on three. In November of 1977 he had surprised everyone by winning the National Chess Congress as an expert. So his rating on the annual list was only 2247, though in reality he was actually closer to 2400. Goichberg felt we had an excellent chance to go 6-0 since Ginsburg's real rating would have put him on board one. How many teams had a board one player on three?

Sometimes things don't work quite as planned. Having someone on your team getting sick sucks. Having two players including your ringer on board three get sick, really sucks. Having a fourth board who is playing sucky chess all weekend is a disaster. Ken and Mark took turns having raging fevers and losing or drawing against much lower rated players. I found creative ways to toss away draws or wins. Bill was our one constant. He went 6-0 on board two. Unfortunately back then they only gave one prize per board for top score, and his tie-breaks weren't good enough, so he didn't even get the clock prize for his effort.

In round four we got paired down against the Collins Men. These were fathers of some of the Collins Kids. It should have been an easy 3-1 win for us since we outrated the top three boards by a significant margin. I can't remember whether it was Regan or Ginsburg that fell victim to the upset in that round. It didn't matter. It cases like this where a stacked team needs helps from the give away fourth board. So what did I do? I played this "fine" (italics for the sarcasm impaired.) game where I decided to avoid perpetual check and walk into a forced mate.

This is one those classic cases of forgetting to put your team's interests above your own. If I had simply settled for the draw we win the match 2.5 -1.5. If I recall there were still games going on in our match, so it wasn't clear that the 1/2 point would be so crucial. I don't remember if we had been 3-0 or 2.5 - 0.5 going into that round, but drawing the match changed the entire tournament for us. I think we ended out scoring 4.5 which wasn't good for anything. It just goes to show you that the stacked team theory doesn't always work as planned. There's no guarantee that they can score 3-1 every round.

There has been talk about a 3 grandmaster team with an 800 on fourth board playing in this year's USATE. It does seem to go against the idea of being an amateur team tournament. For a few years they had a rule that capped the rating difference between boards three and four at 1000. If you wanted a 2400 on board three it meant you had to have a 1400 on board four. For what ever reason the rule went by the boards.

There is no guarantee that the stacked team formula works. All it takes is a balanced team with an up and coming kid with a 2100 rating on board three to pull an upset of the 2400 on the stacked team. Chances are the 900 rated sacrificial lamb is going to get crushed on board four, so that means boards one and two just have scrape up a 1/2 point to win the match against the GM team.

I'm not worried about it since I'm playing board two on a team of friends from my chess club. We come to play chess and eat nice meals in between. My USATE blog may be part chess and part food critic.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Kings Of Football!!!

Sorry BDK. That was one exciting game. Talk about handling time pressure! Amazing last posession by the Giants. As the Three Dog Night song goes...."Eli's Coming!" I couldn't believe Eli actually escaped the potential game killing sack and got that pass off. Then I couldn't believe Tyree actually caught it.
I was watching the game with the mom of one my students. She said "That's what chess needs. Timeouts! You're in time pressure with a minute left and you call a timeout to pull yourself together." Don't we all wish we could handle time pressure with such grace and determination.
Liquid Egg Product's mascot knows his football. Called it right again. I don't bet, but if I had, I'd probably be too embarrassed to admit that I got my betting tips from a cartoon egg. Good call Mascot!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Explaining The "Monkey On My Back"

I saw this video on the Gilbralter Chess Festival website, and got thinking about all the people who have my number. Some newer readers of my blog never saw my earlier posts on the proverbial "monkeys on my back". These are the players who seem to have my number, and make me crazy as I find new and creative ways to lose to them. Some players have my number and I've yet to beat but I don't consider them as one of the proverbial monkeys on my back. I'm oh-fer lifetime against titled players like FM Boris Privman and IM Jay Bonin but because they out rate me by 500 - 600 points it doesn't bother me. Maybe some Thursday night I'll catch one of them on an off day, and pull a big upset. In the meantime I'll take my lumps because according to statistics I should lose to them around 99.9% of the time.

One of my students who reads my blog thought the nickname King Kong came about because the player plays or acts wildly. He was not familar with the term "monkey on one's back." So I explained to him exactly what was meant by the term. I then explained that losing over and over again to a lower rated kid had become more then just a proverbial monkey on my back. Having a losing streak against an adult near my rating had become gorilla proportioned, so who's bigger then a gorilla? King Kong. Hence the name. Now that he's higher rated then me, and has fried bigger fish then me I don't worry about whether or not I'm going to beat him.