Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I'm with my family for Christmas. Originally my husband I were going to go to Chicago the day after Christmas. I was going to play in the Mayor Daley's Holiday Championship on Sunday. However a major mishap has canceled the trip. Last Saturday I fell down, and broke my left ankle. I'm on crutches, so I'm not really mobile. Getting on a plane, and trying to negotiate snowy Chicago on crutches just wasn't going to work.

It really sucks, because canceling the plane tickets cost money. It's so annoying that when you can't use a plane ticket you're just SOL. If I couldn't go to a concert, I could sell the tickets to somebody else. If I can't stay in a hotel I can cancel the room with notice. If I have withdraw from a tournament before it starts I can get my entry fee back. The airlines on the other hand just stick it to you. I'm going to write a letter, and see what happens, but I'm not expecting anything will come of it.

If I had not planned on going to Chicago I would have gone back to the Empire State Open in Saratoga Springs. However I'm learning quickly that the little things like walking through a door, taking a shower, getting something to eat, getting in and out of a car, getting dressed takes a lot more work when trying do them on one leg. Getting to chess tournaments is going to be dependent on people taking me there. Jumping on a train and subway to go to the Marshall Chess Club is not happening.

Most disappointing to me is that I will not be able to test for black belt in June as originally scheduled. My friends that I have trained with will go on without me. I'll end out having to wait until November. This is under the assumption that my ankle will be able to handle the stress once it's healed, and I've done physical therapy to strengthen it again.

I was working through my mind a post on my holistic approach to chess improvement that would incorporate my Tae Kwon Do training, meditation, diet, and mental discipline. I guess I will be reworking it, minus the Tae Kwon Do piece. Though I do need to figure out how I'm going to remember the forms without being able to do them. In the mean time I'll find time for chess study.

It's hard to write at the moment. There's a lot going through my mind. I'm not sure I'll get back to writing about my adventures of being a journalist in Dallas. I still have a deadline for the actual article to deal with first.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Adventures in Photojournalism - Part 1 (Blitz)

The 2009 K-12 Championship is completed. I got back from Dallas on Monday. What did I do for post event relaxation? I went to the chess club to direct our Monday night action tournament. I was so hoping I would not have to play. Fortunately there was an even number so I was off the hook. The only reason I went to the club was because I forgot to see if someone else could direct. Despite not sending out the weekly email I still had 10 players.

I really did not want to play. I was exhausted from the weekend, and the thought of playing chess was giving me a headache. I did not play one single game of chess when I was at the tournament. I didn't play blitz or bughouse at all, and I didn't play in the Parents & Friends tournament. That's unusual for me. I usually want to play blitz or bughouse with the kids, but by the end of each day, I just wanted to relax. I kept myself amused at the club by working on this post.

I never quite realized how much running around I would be doing during the tournament trying to take pictures, and track down interesting stories. At Super Nationals I was running around a lot taking pictures, but I didn't have hunt for results, track down winners for interviews, and try to be in three places at once. Thursday night was the blitz tournament. The lighting was really poor, so it was hard to get good shots even using my new flash unit. I've yet to figure out all the tricks to making it work right. Rule #1 of Photojournalism: Purchase and test new equipment several weeks before the real thing. However I've been picking the brains of some the other photographers that have been taking pictures. Nothing like lessons on the fly! I must have done something right because Chess Life Online used everything I sent out to the editor.

Getting the shot I took of the K-6 winner, James Black got me into my first confrontation with a crazy chess parent. I have a 70-300 mm zoom lens, so sometimes I have to stand a few rows back to get the shot. I try to make sure I'm not too close to any of the players that are in the row that I'm standing in, but this one father is annoyed that I'm standing there. He comes over and says "You're distracting the little kids. That's not fair." I didn't have my press credential yet, so he had no idea who I was. I said "I'm writing the article for Chess Life and taking pictures." He wasn't impressed. He says "It's not right to be disturbing the little kids."

Fortunately I had gotten the picture before he started complaining to me. I moved away. The funny thing was the kids near where I was standing didn't even pay much attention to me, but perhaps his child looked up at me while I was shooting. Though I appreciate parents wanting to look out for their child's interests, I think it's a little excessive to be making a fuss during a blitz tournament which is more fun than serious chess. The serious blitz games were happening about 30 boards away from where I was standing.

I'm a people watcher. I love seeing their facial expressions, and observing the body language. As watch the kids playing, some are very animated at the board. Others are deep in concentration. Often wandering around the playing room I see a particular child who is making interesting facial expressions, or just doing funny things at the board. When I spot one of these kids I might just set up my camera, and just wait for the shot. It takes patience and luck. Some of the kids just ham it up when they see a camera pointed in their direction.

In one of the later rounds I spot two little kindergarten kids playing on the last board. They're both chattering away, and playing around with the pieces. Very cute scene. I go to take some pictures and my telephoto lens seems to be locking up which it will do if it can't get the proper exposure and focus. I run back over to where I've set my bag down, and quickly switch lenses. I go back and try to get the shot, but now realize my battery has died. I go back and switch batteries. I run back over to the board to take the shot, and one of the TDs says "I hope you're not using a flash." I had been using a flash all evening and no one said anything. (I don't use flash during the regular tournament games.) I finally get a few shots off, and after all that running back and forth, the pictures were slightly blurred. I hate when that happens. Fortunately in a tournament like this I will have more opportunities to get the shot. Rule #2 of Photojournalism: Have all lenses and spare batteries on you at all times. (Next purchase will be a photographer's vest.)

As my long time readers know, at times I can be rather forgetful. I forget recharge my Mon Roi so the battery dies during a game, or I forget to put it in the bag I'm taking down to the Marshall. How many times have I needed to buy another pair of reading glasses because I forgot to put a pair in my bag. I don't want begin to count how many times I've walked out the playing room, and left my jacket on a chair because I put it down, and then forgot about it. There are times I feel like I'm suffering from early onset senility. It's amazing that in 37 years of tournament play I've never lost a chess clock. Then again that might have to do with the fact that I've seen too many chess clocks mysteriously grow legs and walk out of tournament or skittles rooms when their owners weren't looking.

I do not have the memory of my friend here.

Thursday evening after the blitz tournament we ordered room service for the kids on our team. As we were waiting for the food to come, I remembered that I needed to recharge the camera battery that had died during the blitz tournament. I went to my room with the battery, and look through my bag where I had packed all the gizmos for my various electronics. Cell phone charger, check. iPod charger, check. Power cord for the laptop, check. AA - AAA batteries and charger, check. Point and shoot camera, spare battery and charger, check. Mon Roi and USB cable, check. Mini tape recorder and spare cassette, check. Battery charger for my real camera...... Ummmmm. Where is it??? I proceeded take my knapsack and just dump the entire contents of it on the bed. I dump everything out of my briefcase. No charger. I look in my suitcase, but I know full well it's not there. Instead it's..... on the floor of my home office.

Now I'm in a panic. How the hell am I going to photograph the remaining three days with one battery? Our team coordinator has the exact same camera as mine. She bought it because she loved the pictures I took on our hiking trip in July. Problem solved? No. She decided to just bring her point and shoot camera since she figured I'd have things covered, and she tends to just do snapshots over the weekend. Then I remembered that Chris Bird, one the floor directors has the same camera. I go downstairs where the tournament directors are having their meeting to go over rules, procedures and assignments. I quietly pull him to the side and ask him if he brought his camera. No. Duh! Floor directors, especially the chief floor directors don't have time to be taking pictures. Why bother lugging a big camera with you that you're not going to be using? Rule #3 of Photojournalism: The Santa clause applies. "Making a list, checking it twice." Having all your gear would be nice.

At this point I figure I'm going to have find an electronics store like Best Buy on Friday and go out and buy another charger. I can use the little point and shoot at the Kosteniuk simul if necessary. It figures the one tournament that none of the parents in our group decide to rent a car would be the year I need to go somewhere by car. Normally at these events I go into the hotel on Thursday, and don't leave the the premises until Monday when it's time to go to the airport.

That was just the warm up to the main event that started on Friday. Stayed tuned for Part 2.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Up In the Air!

As I'm writing I am winging my way towards Dallas for the National K-12 Championships. Fortunately all the really crappy weather was yesterday, so at least we got off the ground. We were late leaving New York because of strong winds. When that happens they only can use one runway at La Guardia. If they thought the wind this morning was strong I hate to see what happens when the really gusty winds start this afternoon. I guess the wind is from all the wild mid-west weather. Once again the early departure time works in my favor. Though for me a scheduled 9:50 departure is late. I told the team coordinator that if she had me make the reservations we would have been on the 7:00 am flight. She doesn't do early mornings.

The team coordinator and I could have been doing a Mac commercial on the plane. I'm a Mac, she's a PC. We were both trying to connect to the on board Internet service. It took me about 2 minutes for my Mac Book to find the signal and get online. She had to fiddle with all her settings, ask for help from the flight attendant and still had problems connecting. After a half hour of fiddling she then shut off the Wi-Fi turned back on and was able to get connected. Back in my data center operations days we used to refer to that as a "hardware reset". That always sounded more impressive then telling the user we turned their machine off and back on, or that their printer was unplugged which often was the case.

I can tell that airline travel is down when there is hardly anyone in the security lines even at 8:00 AM. I actually ended out going through the line a second time because one of the kids on our team forgot his chess bag. That wouldn't be such a big deal but his wallet and ID was in there. Fortunately a kid traveling with an adult doesn't always need ID. Somebody drove out with the bag, and I ran outside and got it. I made sure that when I went back out to get the bag that I left my sweatshirt off. I stuffed my phone in his bag, took off my shoes and was through in a flash. I'm glad his chess clock didn't send the guy manning the x-ray into a fit. They'll be seeing lots of chess clocks today.

The bughouse tournament is this morning. We never come down in time to play in that. However the kids will play in the blitz tournament this evening. I'll be busy taking pictures, and trying track down winners for possible inclusion in my article for Chess Life. There are a number of kids from my area that have good chance of doing well in both the blitz and their respective grades. I'm not going to mention names right now, lest I jinx anyone.

Last year our team finished second in the 9th grade section. This year there seems to be some extra competition in 10th grade. It gets much tougher in the high school divisions. Kids that went to all different middle schools in NY are now together at Stuyvesant HS. Stuyvesant is one of the elite public high schools in NYC. These schools draw good chess players. In April we won the K-9 Championship. Fortunately Hunter HS is not sending a 10th Grade team. They've got 4 10th graders rated over 2000 including Alec Getz who's rated 2317. Next April we will be going against high school teams that have 2300s on them. In the December Nationals the sections are strictly by grade. In the spring the teams have a range of grades on them.

That's all for now. Look for blitz pictures later on.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

American Open: Train Wreck @ LAX

Saturday morning the 4 day schedule and 3 day schedule merged. Now I would be playing the much slower 40 moves in 2 hours followed by remaining moves in an hour. I've been prone to having difficulty making the transition from the much faster time control to the slower one. However in this tournament I had a night to sleep on it, before making the transition. In most tournaments where I've played the shorter schedule I've played 3 - 4 games and less then an hour after the last fast game I've had to switch gears. Sometimes the result of that transition have not been pretty. Round 4 of the 2008 NY State Championship, or Round 4 of the 2007 Empire State Open come to mind.

Since this was the first day with all the schedules together Randy Hough got up and spoke about Jerry Hanken. Jerry had played in the previous 44 American Opens. My trip to the tournament was my own little tribute to Jerry, and Randy had asked me to say a few words. Unfortunately with no mike, and despite my loud voice I don't think people in the back heard what I said. I just shared about how much he cared about chess, and what a good friend he had become. Nothing particularly eloquent.

I felt rested and ready to make the transition to the slow time control. For a change I actually got a half way decent night's sleep, time zone change and all. When I got to the board my opponent already had his equipment set up. The previous day I had played all the rounds with my pieces. When I'm on a good run I kind of like to keep things the same. When I won the Under 1800 section in Saratoga Springs I went to great lengths to sit in the same seat, use my equipment, and wear my "lucky" cap. I couldn't control the seat thing in this tournament since the board numbers were constantly changing. I could have been a pain in the ass and insisted on using all my equipment since I was Black. I've seen players do that to try to intimidate or annoy their opponent. Actually I should say I've seen a psycho chess dad do that to their child's opponent. I think that's rather obnoxious and over the top, but I digress.

My opponent had a very nice wood set, so I saw no need to make a fuss over the set. If it had been some crappy plastic set with mismatched colors I probably would have asked to switch. I did ask to use my clock since I prefer my Chronos and the way I set it for a two control game. I like the time delay always showing, I like seeing hours, minutes and seconds when then clock is running, and I like the move counter. A lot of people don't like the move counter because it can get messed up if someone forgets to press the clock. I like it because when the first control is done, it automatically adds the extra time for the second control. That way I know how much time is really left and I don't have to do time math. "The clock says 33 minutes, but it's really 1 hour and 33 minutes."

He tried to play the Smith-Morra Gambit against my Sicilian, but too many ugly games with Eric Hecht cured me of taking the c pawn. Instead I play Nf6 and it usually transposes into a c3 Sicilian. Not that I'm overly fond of that line either, but it beats getting smashed in less then 20 moves. Early in the game he was using a lot more time then me. I got up a few times to get water, use the bathroom or look at other games. However I wasn't overly restless, so I wasn't constantly jumping up from the board. That's what tends to happen to me when I've just gotten through a G/60 game and now have to deal with an opponent who is using a lot of time.

I try to gauge my pace by looking at how much time I've used by the 20th move. It's not a good sign when I see I've spent a measly 10 minutes on the first 20 moves, and my opponent has spent an hour on those same 20 moves. That means I have not made the transition well, and that I'm likely make some move that I'm going to regret not having given more thought to. I was kind of surprised when we hit 20 moves and both of us had used over an hour each. At one point in the game he had used about 20 minutes more then me, but by 20 moves the time edge was down to 5 minutes. Perhaps that was because I spent 11 minutes on move 19 and after he spent 10 minutes on move 20, I spent another 8 minutes on my 20th move.

It was probably around move 25 when I noticed the move counter was off by a move, and would showing 39 moves when we actually had made 40. It wouldn't be a big deal if we both made the time control with plenty of time to spare. I thought about mentioning it to my opponent, but he was so intense in his concentration. I didn't want to say anything on his time, and I didn't want to stop the clock on my move and break my train of thought. I decided I would let it go for the time being. Things did get a bit wild between moves 30 and 40. We traded queens and then had a battle of doubled rooks on open files. I was looking for cheap shots on his back rank because he had not moved any of his pawns around the king. He was looking to penetrate since I had gaping holes on both sides of the board.

I made my 40th move with 23 seconds left, and it was at that point that I mentioned the clock. At time control there tends to be a natural break as both players just verify that 40 moves had been played. Once we had agreed on that I just pressed the clock back and forth to get the extra hour put on both sides. Note to self: Fix the error when first noticed instead of worrying about it approaching the first time control.

The real fun started after time control. Often when somebody says that, it's a cliche. In this case it's not a cliche because the game truly became fun and exciting. It would not have been fun if my opponent had just ignored my desperate attempt at counter-play. He won my a pawn, and my b pawn would fall soon, but he responded to my crazy 48...Nh5. If he just goes after my b pawn I'm going to have difficulty stopping his queen side pawns. But at this point I'm in the "I'm losing, but I'm going to have some fun before I resign." mode. I'm not sure why he was so concerned about my knight going to f4 ang e2+, but he wasted time with 49. g3. There's an old teaching expression that is sometimes used. "Rooks on seven are in heaven." I had two rooks on his 7th. He had one rook on my 7th.

I can't even begin to describe the craziness that ensued. He chased my king from one side of the board to the other, and with seconds left on my clock I came up with a combination that won a piece. Here is the game up to the point that I stopped taking score. The last few moves I included are from memory, and I'm not even sure if they're correct. What happened afterward defies explanation.


At this point the game has drawn a crowd because we're the only game left. I've won many games with only seconds left on my clock, but I'm not sure exactly what happened after I stopped keeping score. I was a bundle of nerves. If one only looked at the part of me that was visible across the board, I looked fairly calm except the quick movements of my hands as I went for pieces. Under the table was a whole different story. My legs were bouncing up and down, and I was having trouble sitting still. Linux-Guy thought I looked very focused. However what was going through my mind along with the analysis wasn't really very focused. At one point it crossed my mind "Why doesn't he resign? I'm up a piece and 2 pawns and I'm going to shove my f pawn down his throat." That type of thinking gets me into trouble.

I have no memory of the moves that followed once I stopped keeping score, but somehow I never got around to taking the a pawn, my king wandered too far away from his queen side pawn majority, he played a5, and ran the b pawn down the board. With a total of 6 seconds (1 second real time & 5 seconds delay) per move, I could not find a way to get back to stop him from promoting. My knight and king were too far away, and my rook was blocked. Linux-Guy who was watching, seemed to think I may have had a way to sac the rook for the pawn. With my advanced f pawn I still should have been able to win even down the exchange.

As I'm writing this I stopped to look at 6 seconds tick off on my watch to get a sense of how much time it is. In the comfort of my house with no pressure to calculate a series of chess moves, it seems like enough time. However when one is banging out 20 or more chess moves one right after another and is in hyper mode, it's very hard to sort out the emotions from the problem at hand. I know why this happens. I discussed it at great length in my Chess Survival post.

I know I was very emotional that game. I went from a feeling of hopelessness when it appeared he would just gobble up my pawns and march his down the board, to a feeling of euphoria as I came up with the combination that won a piece, then to a feeling of utter panic when I couldn't find a quick win with so little time. Then I got angry with myself when he made the passed pawn. I try to keep the anger to myself, and not project it towards my opponent. When he promoted the pawn, I stopped the clock so that he could replace the pawn with the queen. The pawn was sitting in front of me, so I picked it up and tossed to the side where the other captured pieces were. I guess my toss would a little harder then intended because it went shooting across the table and my opponent got annoyed and said "It's only a game." I said "Sorry", but somehow when somebody says "It's only a game" when they've suddenly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat it sounds rather hollow. I had not paid any attention to his body language, but Linux-Guy told me afterward that he exuding arrogance as he marched the pawn down the board.

The position was certainly resignable at that point, but I chose to continue playing with my one second. I think I was just too angry at myself to give up at that point. I think I was also ticked off by the "It's only a game" remark. I'm not 100% sure how it ended. The position below is a rough reconstruction of the final position. Usually I write down the position at the end, but having played for over 6 hours I couldn't think straight. I did apologize again for tossing the pawn. I was kind of embarrassed because I don't like showing anger by throwing things around, especially my opponent's nice pieces.

The next round was scheduled to start in a few minutes. The smart thing to have done was take a bye for that round. However in one of my "suck it up, get over it, and get back on the horse" moments I chose to play round six. I wasn't in contention for money after that loss, so a zero point bye would been acceptable.

When I started playing round six, I knew it was a mistake. I got a second Black in a row. I almost offered my opponent an early draw. But no, since I hate early draw offers I chose to play out the game. I got a so-so position out of the opening and then just lost focus. He was going to win a pawn, and I thought it was going to be deadly to give up that pawn, so I sac-ed the exchange. Sometimes I make irrational decisions like that. Eventually I just resigned. The previous game had sucked the energy right out of me. I figured I needed to save something for rounds 7 & 8.

My opponent and I looked at the game, and concluded that losing the pawn was not going to be devastating. In fact it didn't really look like White was going to be able to do much with it. It's hard to get out of the losing mind set after a long and heart breaking loss. Decisions get made based on that mind set. The funny thing was my opponent told me he almost offered an early draw, but looking at me he thought I wasn't in the mood to accept such an offer. If he had offered the draw, I would have taken it. Socializing over a glass of wine afterward was the best part of the evening.

At 9:30 he said that we both should head back to our respective rooms, and get ready for the next day. I wasn't quite ready to do that. I went back into the playing room to see how Linux-Guy was making out against Ryan Polsky. When that game was done, I got someone to take a picture. Brian and Ryan get join my rogues gallery of bloggers and commenters I've met at tournaments. Welcome to the club.

Ryan, Polly & Brian (aka Linux-Guy)

I was going to write another post about Sunday's games, but this one ended out taking longer then I expected. To make a long story short; in the 7th round a played a 5th grade girl with one of those names that's hard to spell and even harder to pronounce. (Always a bad sign!!) I won a pawn, and then messed up. In round 8 I played Black against someone who played 1 .d4 followed by 2. Nf3. For some reason I just get really crappy positions and have been getting smashed as Black against that kind of line. I guess that will be part of my ACIS agenda. Work out an opening plan against random d4 openings.

Tomorrow I head off to Dallas for the National K-12 Championships. I'll be tending to my job as assistant coach to the team, taking pictures, and following the action closely since I'll be writing an article for Chess Life about the tournament. I was very excited and honored when the Chess Life Editor asked me if I'd write the article for the tournament. Finally I get to play a real chess journalist. I probably won't have time to torture myself by playing under-rated chess parents in the Parents & Friends tournament.

Stay tuned for pictures and other tournament tidbits. Maybe I'll post my first Texas game to Checkmate State by State in honor of the occasion.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

American Open - Part 1: Marathon Madness

I started writing this post on Saturday morning before round five. However it took me so long to figure out how to get the Internet working in the room, that I didn't get very far. By the time I got back to the room on Saturday night, I was in no mood write much of anything except the following little blurb on Facebook.

I was better off playing G/60 with no sleep, then playing 40/2 G/60 with sleep. Lost both games today. Managed to lose a totally won game on the second time control imploding with 1 second left on the clock. Then was aggravated that I totally messed up the next game. Sometimes I really hate chess!!!

Sunday morning I wasn't going to spend another $9.95 to get another connection. Any attempts to use the free Internet in the lobby at the tournament site failed miserably. Nobody was getting connected. So here I am back in New York, and I've had some time to look at some of my games.

The LA chess scene is truly the proverbial melting pot of America. As I'm walking though foyer outside the playing room, I hear more different languages then English. The predominant languages are Russian and Chinese. That should not have surprised me considering my "lost in translation" incident in May. When I only visit certain parts of the country once or twice a year, it's easy to forget what the chess scene is like. Perhaps I need to go back and read old posts about previous tournaments to remind myself of what to expect.

Though I didn't need to read my Lina Grumutte Memorial Day Classic reports to remember psycho chess mom. I saw her walking around with that intense stare that looks like she could turn someone to stone with it. I was happy to see that her son's rating has gone up over 200 points since May, and he's playing in the Under 2200 section. I would not have worry about playing him in this tournament.

My first round opponent was Zheng Zhu, a very nice kid who I would guess was in 9th or 10th grade. Our game was a very quiet opening. In fact it was so quiet that I kept dozing off while he was on move. I was so sleepy from starting my day at 4:00 AM EST, I would literally close my eyes and fall a sleep for anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. Since I have one of the Chronos clocks with the touch sensor buttons I would not hear the normal click of a clock button when it's been pressed. I prefer this model over the other one due to the ease of hitting the buttons, in addition it makes the compulsive button tapping that some kids are prone to do, much less annoying.

Fortunately my opponent was so engrossed in the game I don't think he was noticing that I was falling asleep at the board. I also tried to keep the bill on my cap as low over my eyes as possible so it wasn't so obvious that I was napping between moves. I realized that I also needed to change my music choice. I love Stolkowski's Symphonic transcriptions of Bach's organ works when I need music to calm me down. However they're a poor choice when I need something to energize me. I switched to Beethoven's 6th Symphony, Pastoral. That's a very lively piece of music. The 5th would have been better, but I don't have it on this particular iPod.

Even though I was the one dozing, he was the one using a lot of time. Maybe that was why I was having trouble staying awake. I drop a pawn, but managed to get into opposite bishops. With 2:30 left on his clock he offered me a draw which I took in the following position:

We looked at the game afterward, and didn't really find an easy win for Black even with the extra pawn. A number of his friends came by and started putting their two cents worth in. Some of the variations weren't even worth a penny. We had fun picking apart some of the suggested moves.

I guess the one positive thing I can say about this tournament is, I drew with the the winner of the Under 1800 section. He would end out scoring 6.5 - 1.5 with 5 wins and 3 draws.

Round two was another quiet game where we traded down to a bishop and pawns ending. I offered a draw which he took. Round three was when things got exciting. I won a pawn, then got a piece trapped and then managed to sneak a pawn up the board while he went pawn grabbing. The result was a wild ending where he was trying to mate me, and could do no better then giving a bunch of checks. I figured he would repeat the position so I offered him a draw. He said "I haven't repeated the position." I told him I wasn't claiming a draw, I was simply offering a draw. He finally trades his useless rook for my extra queen. We trade queens, and end out with knight and two pawns each. He immediately grabs his captured queen as if he really thinks he's going to get one of his pawns down the board. It was a rather presumptuous thing to do. I've learned the hard way not to grab for the extra queen too soon. However in the heat of the moment I grab my queen too.

We trade a pawn each and then he begrudgingly offers a draw. I don't take it right away. I play a few more moves. When the game is done one of his friends says something, and he snarls at the friend "I don't want to talk about it." Gets up and leaves the board. No hand shake, no "Nice game", no helping to clean up the set. What a knucklehead. I wasn't surprised to see that he forfeited in round eight after losing in round seven. I had stayed for awhile to talk to one of my friends who was watching the game. Then I left the room. I forgot to check the pairing sheet, and a few minutes later the TD is looking for me because there was no result posted. Why should I have assumed that the guy would even bother to post the result?? Oops!

Here's the game.


I was expecting to play Black in round 4, but instead I got White for a 2nd game in a row. Unlike my previous 3 games it went fairly quickly. The game was an instructive example of why knights belong in the center of the board, not on the edge. White's knights were all over Black's center, whereas Black's knights sat idle on a6 and h6 for most of the game.

As I was on the attack, I felt as though I could have played it better. I sensed my move order at times wasn't the best. In a fit of paranoia I played a very passive king move to get out of check. I had given no consideration to sacrificing the exchange. The exchange sac is crushing. I had only looked at moving the king to get out of the knight check. No harm was done by playing conservatively in the position. However it perhaps was an indicator of overall mindset that would render me a wreck for the rest of the tournament.

Here's the game.


I was very happy to get through a very long day without any major meltdowns. I felt like I was in good shape heading into the longer time control games. Little did I know what was coming. The mind is a terrible thing to mind. Stay tuned for the train wreck.