Saturday, June 13, 2009

Westchester Chess Club Championship

If you've been reading my blog for the last couple of months you've been probably thinking, "Poor, Polly she's had a rough spell of tournaments." Between getting crushed in 12 moves, losing to cute little girls, and former students, disasters in New Jersey, jet lag in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and the usual Thursday nonsense I was playing in the Westchester Chess Club Championship on Wednesday nights. The last couple of years I've not done very well. Last year was particularly ugly when I started off scoring 1/2 out of 3 including drawing with the lowest rated player in the tournament, and in the next round losing to a kid who offered me a draw after 17 moves. This year I managed to negotiate my way through the lower rated players in the first two rounds. Then things got interesting.

In round three I played Duncan Foster. I'm 0-2 against him, and the last time was a particularly painful loss as I blundered horribly in game where I was up four pawns. I couldn't help but to think about that game when I was up four pawns in this game. However I kept things simple and just pushed the pawns. Here's the game with no notes. It's pretty straight forward.


In round four I played Dan Garrett. We always have crazy games where one or both of us get into insane time trouble. For a change the game was decided well before we had one of our crazy time scrambles. I dropped a pawn early and he hung a knight on move 24. Dan is one those guys who will play to the bitter end. He's a disciple of Tartakover who once said "Nobody has ever won a game by resigning." One move before mate he did finally resign.

So after four rounds I'm 4-0. If you're wondering why I was not giving updates and posting the games, it's because I didn't want to jinx myself. I'm a baseball fan that won't talk about no hitters during the game. Just like last year in Saratoga Springs when people started asking me if I was going 6-0, I didn't want to talk about it. The tournament director told me after the third round, "You have a really good chance to win the club championship." I told him I didn't want to talk about it. After winning the fourth round he tells me "I know you don't want to talk about it, but good luck."

But there was another reason I did not want to discuss the tournament here. One of my regular readers was going to be my 5th round opponent. I didn't want give him bulletin board material by making some bold prediction, or let him know how nervous I really was about our upcoming game. The funny thing was he showed up at my other club the Monday before we were supposed to play. I'm thinking to myself as I'm taking entries, "I hope I don't have to play Marty in this tournament." So what happens? I have to play him in the first round, and I'm Black which was the same color I would play against him in Wednesday's game.

The game was totally insane. I decided that I didn't really care if I lost this game as long as I could win the fifth round game in the club championship. I sac'ed a knight on move 23 to get counter play instead of ending out with ugly king side pawns and white having more active pieces. I don't normally do stuff like that, but I figured why not? Actually Fritz like my 22...Nxe3. It would have seemed brilliant if I had not kept missing the killer move on 26, 27, and 28.

There was a lot of psychology in my wild play. I out rate him by over 300 points, but his rating was based on only on 14 games at the time. I know he works on his game, and the comments he leaves on my blog indicate to me that he takes the time to study the games I post. He is familiar with my normal mode of play, so I figured mixing things up a bit might throw him off.

Most of his games were at much slower time controls. This was his first time playing "cracktion". What was working in my favor was an advantage on the clock and his inexperience at this faster time control. In some ways I was messing with his head with my reckless play. It's hard to explain my rationale, but it was almost like I wanted to lose this game. I thought maybe if he won this game, he might be a little over confident and also not quite be sure what to expect in the club championship game. Here is the Monday night game.


When we played again a week later the game was much quieter, but it had its own drama. There were two crucial moments. Here's the first one on move 51.

I had just played 50...Kh8?? in response to 50. Nxf6+. White has mate in 6 if he plays 51. Rd7 instead of 51. Rd8+ . Answer in the brackets [51. Rd7 Rb3+52. Kxh2 Rb2+ 53. Kh3 Rb3+ 54. Kh4 Rh3+ 55. Kxh3 d3 56. Rh7#]Fortunately for me he played the check instead. The game continued 51... Kg7 52. Nxh5+ Kg6 53. Rxd4 Kxh5 54. Rd5+ Kg6 55. f5+ Kf6 56. Kg4 Be5 57. Ra5 Rb4+ 58. Kf3 Kxf5 59. Ke2 Ke4 60. Rc5 Rb3 61. Rc4+ Bd4 62. Kd2 Rb2+ 63. Kd1 Kd3 64. Rc8 Rh2 to reach this position.

This position should look familar to any one who read this post I made in March. I had gone crazy playing out the position from both sides. I would play it from the strong side against Fritz. Fritz would resign, but I could not figure out why. I would play it from the weak side, and Fritz would usually force mate in 8 to 12 moves. So here I am playing this same position in a real game and trying to remember the ideas from my battles with Fritz. Unfortunately for White he put his hand on his king. It wasn't an ambigious touch like I had in February. I knew he touched it, he knew he touched it, and the spectators knew he touched it. All king moves lose. 65. Kc1 loses to 65...Bb2+ 66. Kd1 Rh1# 65. Ke1 leads to immediate mate on h1. Tough way to lose, especially after missing the mating combination earlier.

Winning this game, put me a point ahead of the field. My last round opponent allowed me to trade down to 7 pawns and light squared bishop versus 7 pawns and light squared bishop after 19 moves. Same number of pawns on both sides of the board. 14 moves later he accepted my draw offer, making me 2009 Westchester Chess Club Champion.

Receiving trophy and 1st place money from TD Andre Morawski


linuxguyonfics said...

He may have said that, but I think what Tartakover meant was "Nobody has ever won an _action_ game by resigning."

I've used psychology successfully in games, as it's actually one of my skills that goes into the rating; the kicker is you can't rely on it alone, and it can be double-edged as shown in your game.

Congrats, you totally earned this tournament victory! :-)

Banatt said...

Way to go! A well deserved win.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on winning. Just noticing that the final position is mate with 65...Rh1# even if 65. Kc1

CMoB said...

Congratulations champ!

Polly said...

Anon: You're right! Bishop covers in both directions. DUH! :-)

Anonymous said...


Congradulations on your win. You were 100% right, I do look at your blog and was looking through your blog prior to our WCC game to try to find out what you play against d4. I knew you played the Nimzo-Indian, but I wasn't sure which line you played. I didn't really have much success, so I was really happy you were playing black against me to the BPCC. Unfortunately, you played a sideline that was not that well covered in david Vigorito's book on the nimzo and when we played on Wednesday I think you strayed from that sideline anyway.

PS At the BPCC, you put up a very good fight for someone who was not trying to hard to win.


American Patriot said...

Congrats on winning your club's championship! I bet it completely makes up for losing to 8 year olds. Since I've also done the latter, I hope one day to do the former.

From the patzer said...

Finally some happy news on this blog.

Congratulations champ!

tanch said...

Hi Polly,

My heartiest congratulations on your winning the Westchester Chess Club championship!

Well done! :)

Saul R. Priever said...

Congrats Polly! Stay fierce!

Anonymous said...

What I respect most about your accomplishment, Polly, is the psychological fortitude you demonstrated in leaving the National Open behind and staying focused on the club championship. Well done!

Anonymous said...

Yes! Seeing that trophy in your hands brings a lot of joy. Congratulations!

wang said...


Congratulations Polly!

Rolling Pawns said...

Congratulations! That trophy looks really good in your hands.

Polly said...

Marty: I was trying to win the Monday game, but I took risks that I might not have taken if I was overly concerned about winning the game. It's funny because my sacrifice was sounder then I thought. I just kept missing the killer move.

Patriot: I'll probably continue to lose to little kids. Winning the club championship was very satisfying, especially considering how poorly I've done in previous years.

Greg: Actually I had already won the championship before I left for Vegas. There was a game that still needed to be played when I got back. I was kind of hoping that winning the club championship would be a good pick me up heading into the National Open. However the jet lag factor played a big part in my poor start. Hard to recover from 0-3 in a 6 round tournament.

Banatt, LEP, CMoB, tiger, saul, tanc, wang, pawn: Thank you for you good wishes and loyal readership. Hopefully I can have more positive results down the road. If not, there's always the "train wreck" stories. :-)

Blue Devil Knight said...

Congrats on the Championship! I also am superstitious about tournaments and don't like to invoke jinxes.

Your attitude in the pre-tournament game reminded me of a quote from Nakamura when he was asked what made him such a good attacking player. His immediate response was, "I'm not scared to lose."

What the heck is an "action" game? Is that a New York expression?

Matt Hayes said...

An action game is one that is slower than blitz but faster than a slow-play time control. Action games are usually dual-rated, meaning they count towards both a person's quickplay and regular rating (I think there is a minimum amount of time required for this, though, e.g. 10 mins per player, but I don't remember). A typical action game is G/25 or G/30.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks Matt.