Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thursday Night Championship: Killer Kidz

Maybe I should have read my 2008 post about this tournament, and then followed it up by reading my 2009 Part I and Part II posts on the same event.  Just maybe if I reviewed what has happened in this event past two years, I'd either skip the tournament or just say "Screw it! I'm playing in the Open Section.  I can't do any worse, and I might scalp a master and not have to worry about losing the other games."  I had even considered playing up, but I'm not convinced of the value of playing in a field with 18 masters out of 23 players.  (25 counting the two house players.)

So once again I chose to play in the Under 2200 section.  That section was not so easy.  In round one I was paired up against James Black, rated 2079.  James won the 6th grade championship at last December's K-12 in Dallas.  I  featured his last round game in my April Chess Life article on the K-12 Championships.

I've played James a few times in the past, so I should not have been surprised that he attacked with the Black pieces, and sacrificed material.  The sacrifices were not sound.  By move 22 he had given up both his rooks for minor pieces, and I had many chances to win easily.  Unfortunately something happened and I just did not find the best moves in several different situations.  On move 26 I had grabbed a pawn on the 7th rank with one of my rooks.  He responded to that move by forking that rook and my queen with 26...Nd5.   I was rather annoyed with myself, but figured I'd still be up an exchange after playing 27. Rxd5.  However instead of being annoyed with myself I should have looked at the position closer.  Then I would have found 27. Rcxg7+, giving me the extra move to get my queen out of danger.

Even after that mistake I still was winning, but opted to give a check instead attacking his queen.   My move at that point wasn't losing, but I certainly could have made my life simpler with 28. Be5.  I'm not sure why I kept missing the best moves.  I think I may have been either overly excited about the prospect of winning the game, or afraid of messing it up.  Both thoughts were going through my mind simultaneously.  Unfortunately the fear of messing up was realized and in his time pressure I managed to screw up.  The problem was I knew what his threat was, and I knew how I could defend.  Unfortunately the position changed slightly when he went for his threat, and the same defense does not work. My queen had been on e3 and I had just played 33. Qf4 so the f2 pawn is not guarded and Rg1 is no longer a viable defense to 33...Qf134. Rg1 loses to 34...Qxf2+

Here's the game in its entirety.


Even though I was extremely angry with myself for missing the opportunity to pull a big upset, I tried to put it out of my mind. I rationalized that I was expected to lose that round, and that it wasn't really that big a deal.  However it completely changed the tone of the tournament. Instead of having a nice win under my belt and an opportunity to play up again, I would get paired down.  I played a kid that I faced a couple of times before and have won each game.  Every time I play him it gets a little more difficult, but I figured I knew enough about his play to hold my own.

The last time we played he attempted a Yugoslav Attack against my Accelerated Dragon.  It didn't work out for him, and after the game his school coach showed him why it doesn't work without Black playing d6 before g6.  I was guessing that he probably ignored the entire lesson, and would play f3 against me again.  I was correct on that point.  I won a pawn and managed to get the queens off the board.  However I missed one move he had and ended out giving the pawn back.  We eventually ended out in a minor piece and 3 pawn ending.  Even though he'll win a pawn, I should be able to hold the position.  The problem was I tried to save the pawn and walked into a fork and lost my bishop.

Instead of being 1-1, I was 0-2 and started having visions of a repeat of 2008.  Though at least this time I wouldn't have Eric Hecht and his Smith-Morra Gambit to deal with.  First of all I was due White, and second of all he wasn't at the tournament.  I got White against a "little kid" I'd never played before.  Looks can be deceiving.  I thought he was a fifth grader. In reality he just finished up eighth grade and is heading off to Stuyvesant HS (A very prestigious NYC Public School that is difficult to get into.) in the fall.  I didn't find any of this out until the game was over.  Not that any of that information changes anything.  I'm playing a kid rated 1475, that's all that mattered.  Could I move beyond the stupid moves of the first two games, and just focus on this particular game?

I know I'm agitated and have to try to forget about what happened and try to tune out any distractions.  We were playing on a table that has a pedestal base instead of 4 legs.  At the beginning of the game he kept swinging his legs and kicking it with his foot.  I asked him to not kick under the table.  It was another one of these games that starts out as an English but transposes into a Maroczy Bind type set up.  He did not go into a Sicilian Dragon type set up.  Instead he fianchettoed the c8 bishop and got pressure on the diagonal.  The ending to this game was eerily similar my round 1 game.  The last two moves are identical. 42. Rg1 Qf2+.

As Yogi Berra once said "It's deja vu all over again."  I did have a defense in this position, but with 5 seconds left I didn't find 42. Qh4+.  This move allows me to force a 3 fold repetition with perpetual check.

Here's the game.


At this point I'm ready to have a repeat of 2008 and get the bye in round 4.  Please someone just send me home early and put me out of my misery! No such luck.  The numbers remained even and I would have to play another kid, and play White again.  I decided after the earlier losses playing the English I would switch to 1. d4 for the last round.  That probably was not the best choice against this particular kid.  Every time I play he tries to trade down and go into a drawish position.  Sure enough after 7 moves both pairs of bishops have been traded off.  I was tempted to ask for a draw at that point since I really had lost interest in trying to win.  Nothing was going to salvage the rating hit I was taking.  I just didn't want to lose.

I felt like I should at least make an effort to win, so I played on.  Eventually I was bored silly and looked at my watch.  I decided I was going to offer the draw and try to make the 11:45 train.  He turned it down because he had started getting some counter play.  We played on, and I won a pawn later.  However there really wasn't any way I was going to win with the extra pawn, so I offered another draw which he accepted.  I was rather annoyed since his declining the first draw made it impossible to catch the earlier train.  As I was leaving the club he apologized for making me play it out.  Easy to say when you have your father taking you home.

Some may ask "Why didn't you just drop out if you didn't want to play the last round?"  If the number is odd with me in the tournament then I'm going to get to leave because of the bye.  If it's even with me in the tournament and I leave then I cause someone else to get a bye.  I hate byes so I try to avoid sticking other people with them.  Also I just don't like to withdraw when I have a horrible score.  I'm constantly telling my students to suck it up and move on.  I figure if they should suck it up, so should I.

PS. Don't think of this as a continuation of my Vegas struggles.  I played in a quad last weekend and scored 1 win and 2 draws against kids near my rating.  I know I have to work on tactics and maybe play some blitz.  I'm just missing too many things for no good reason.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

San Francisco Street Chess: Poof!

On my recent trip to San Francisco I had the opportunity to play chess on Market Street.  On previous visits to San Francisco I've managed to not see this, so I didn't even realize it existed until I walked by it one afternoon.  Like most street chess venues it has it share of colorful characters.  Some of the colorful characters tend to use very colorful language, but that just goes with the territory.  Unlike Washington Square Park where the street players get upset if you take their pictures, here they were cool about it.  After my experience in Washington Square Park, I decided better to ask first, shoot later.

I played a few games of blitz with this guy, pictured below.  I lost all the games, but didn't break my budget.  We played for $2.00 a game and I only played 3 games.  It turned out he was originally from New York and played in the various parks there.  We compared notes on New York chess people we both knew.

Unfortunately I did not write down this guy's name, so I don't remember who he is.  It's too bad because I wanted to tell some of the New York people he knows that I played with him out in San Francisco.  I didn't get an opportunity to have someone take some pictures of me playing.  I figured I would get some pictures on my next trip to San Francisco.  However I may be wrong.  It seems the good folks of San Francisco's City Hall don't think much of the chess cast of characters and forced them to move out.  I wasn't aware of this until I saw this post on James West's blog.  He linked to a letter written by Chris Torres of Chess Musings.  Torres has several articles about the closing, and The Chess Drum has written on the topic too. 

Maybe they got tired of arresting the Bushman on Fisherman's Wharf.  He's good for a few laughs.  He hides behind a bush and shakes it as tourists walk by.  Some of the reactions of the tourists are pretty funny.  I had fun watching and taking pictures.

Waiting for his next victim.

Hopefully they'll get it sorted out.  They should spend more time going after the overly aggressive panhandlers, and less time bother a few street chess people.  IMHO.  End of social commentary.  Now back to our regular scheduled programming.  Next on the schedule is the 23rd Thursday Night Action Championship.  Hopefully I can improve upon my results of the past couple of years.

Monday, June 21, 2010

National Open: Sunday the 13th - Round 6

After my walk I tried to take a nap before the 6th round.  That didn't last very long.  I got restless and went back onto the computer to check the next round pairings. My opponent had not played since the 2003 North American Open where he had scored 5 out of 6 in the under 1600 section.  Once again it's hard to glean any information from that.  I just have to play my game, and not make any assumptions about how he plays.  That's all well and good in theory, but what I say to myself is often different then what I actually do.

My opponent was much younger then all the older players I had been playing in rounds 2-5.  It's a rare tournament when the majority of my opponents are older then me.  I would say he was in his early 20s.  He opened 1. Nf3.  I thought "Here we go again with one of these random openings." I played 1...c5.  I was ecstatic when he replied 2. e4.  I was surprised he played e4 on his second move because he clearly didn't know how to proceed against my Accelerated Dragon.  If I were a rusty player and started with 1. Nf3 I would continue on that vain and probably play 2. g3 or 2. c4.  I wouldn't play 2. e4 and allow the opponent to transpose to something she is comfortable with.

Given my temperament at longer time controls maybe this wasn't the best thing to happen to me.  The opening was pretty standard Accelerated Dragon. 1. Nf3 c5 2. e4 Nc6 3. d4 cxd 4. Nxd4 g6 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Bc4 Qa5?! 8. Nb3? (8. 0-0 is the correct move.) 8...Qb4.  At this point he spends 20 minutes to come up with the move 9. Qe2?  This allows me to win 2 pawns by move 11.  9...Nxe4 12. 0-0 Nxc3 11. bc Qxc3.

At this point I'm feeling very confident.  I'm up two pawns and I'm playing somebody who is really rusty.  The problem with playing somebody who is rusty is he takes a lot of time on a number of moves.  He spent 10 minutes on move 14 and another 13 minutes on move 15.  I can't sit still while the opponent is taking so long on early middle game moves.  I left the room, bought a tee shirt and came back in.  He just moved so I hadn't even wasted any time with that trip.  At this point I'm just so amped up on emotion.  I was forgetting about the ugly play of round 5 and thinking I could salvage an even score out of this mess.  Every time he spent a long time on a move I was pacing around the room, or outside the room.

It was around move 20 that I realized I was letting him get play on the king side and that perhaps I should not be counting the proverbial chickens just yet.  The problem I was having at that point was trying to calm myself down and come up with a logical defense.  I slowed down my play, and stopped leaving my seat.  Unfortunately the psychological damage was already done.  I would find a way to totally screw up the game by making  the move 25...Qe7?? too fast.  Once again I walked into an overly familiar pattern of the f pawn being pinned to the king and unable to defend the g pawn.  At first I thought I was only giving him a draw because he could just repeat the position with 26. Qxg6+ Kh8 27. Qh6+ Kg8.  However the lack of a dark squared bishop was going to do me in at this point.

My opponent and I spent a lot of time looking at the game. We had incorrectly concluded that I was lost after 23...Bxg4.  (That's what happens when 2 B players try to do serious analysis without a stronger player or Fritz to assist.) We both though I should have played 23...Bxb3.  However when I did analysis with Fritz later it preferred 23...Bxg4.  Here's the critical position:

I didn't need the little arrow to see the threat 26. Bh6.  I needed an arrow to remind me the f pawn was pinned.  Perhaps then I might have found 25...Kh7.  But then again maybe I wouldn't, considering that neither my opponent or I could find it in the post-mortem.

Here's the entire game with the correct analysis.


Doing analysis after a game regardless of the result is what makes over-the-board chess so much more sociable then playing on the internet.  A bond is formed and you find out a little more about the player you just spent the last few hours sitting across.  War stories from past tournaments get shared, and perhaps a few laughs.  Then we part company.

It was after that parting that, it suddenly hit me how alone I was at this tournament.  I didn't have a roommate to commiserate with.  I had trouble processing what went wrong this tournament.  I thought coming in a day earlier and playing the slower schedule would help, but it didn't matter.  I was still tired and still played like crap on the last day.   I was in California until June 2nd.  I came home and then on June 10th flew back out West.  That's a lot of airplane travel in a short period of time.  Maybe I should have figured out how to manage to not have to go home between the Memorial Day weekend tournament and this one.  However the thought of spending 3 weeks in hotels or on relative's couches doesn't seem like a good solution either.

Games like the last round one make me think I'm better suited for shorter time controls.  I may have still screwed up and missed the pin, but on the other hand maybe knowing I wasn't going to have 6 hours to work with might have kept me in my seat.  I never leave the board when playing game/30 to game/45.  At game/60 I might run out to use the bathroom, but I won't be wandering all over the tournament venue talking to my friends who are directing.  One time control sudden death games have a finite amount of time that I can manage.  It's true 40/2 SD/1 is also a finite amount of time, but it's 6 hours.  It doesn't matter that the game may not go that long, it has the potential to go that long.  It's difficult to figure out how to keep my hyperactive mind in focus for that amount of time.  I've done it as evidenced in my round 6 game at the 2008 Empire State Open.

Monday was much better then Sunday.  The trip home was sweet.  Originally I was supposed to fly LAS to DFW and then DFW to LGA.  My arrival time was going to be 6:20 pm, and then I was going to have go into Manhattan for the Marshall Chess Club's annual meeting.  However sometimes the airline horror stories of oversold flights can have happy endings.  The LAS-DFW flight was oversold so they were looking for volunteers to take another flight.  Normally I tune those announcements out until they get desperate and start offering cash to change flights.  There was no offer for actual cash, but when the alternate flight is LAS-JFK non-stop in first class and a $300 travel voucher, I'm listening.

Let's see. I can change planes in Dallas and get to New York at 6:20 pm if I'm lucky, or I can take a non-stop in first class that gets me in at 4:00 pm.  Hmmm, tough decision.  NOT!  I was quick to ring the call button and offer to get off the plane I was one, and get on the other.  At first it appeared people had beaten me to the punch, but then somebody came back and asked me if I was still interested.  Yes!  This switch almost didn't work out.  We were circling JFK and the pilot announced that we might have to circle for another half hour which would mean we would have to go to Philadelphia to refuel. Swell so much for getting back early.  Fortunately a slot opened up and we were able to land without a side trip to Philadelphia.

My luggage went to La Guardia without me, which actually was good for me.  That way I didn't have to schlepp it into Manhattan to attend the meeting.  It was delivered to my home the next day.  Instead all I had on my person were my carry-on items.  That made for an easier trip into Manhattan.  So I spent money to go have a lousy tournament in Las Vegas, but now I have a $300 voucher to fly somewhere American Airlines goes.  Maybe I'll find a tournament in a city, in a state I haven't played yet.  I haven't played in any new states this year.

Friday, June 18, 2010

National Open: Sunday the 13th - Round 5

My sub-title for this post could be "Sucky Sunday" because almost everything about it sucked.  Actually I should rephrase that.  Everything about the way I played on Sunday sucked.  The tournament itself was a wonderful event, and really well run.  I could get on my computer in my room and find my pairing at least a half hour before the scheduled start of the round.  It's nice to not have to fight the mobs crowding around the pairing sheet.  Go straight to the board, and sit down.  Though sometimes it can be dangerous looking up pairings online because then I can't help but to go to the USCF website and see what the opponent's real rating is.

Sunday morning after breakfast I find my pairing and look up the opponent.  He seemed to be another older player because his ID number was lower then mine.  He only played a couple of tournaments recently and nothing from 1991 to 2009.  I know from past experience that one has to be wary of the player who hasn't played much recently.  One never knows if the so called "rusty" player has been taking lessons or playing on the internet in lieu of over the board play.

So much for getting my pairing ahead of time.  When I came downstairs I noticed the pairing sheet for the under 1800 section was a different color.  When the pairing sheet is some other color besides white it means the pairings have changed.  On Saturday that had happened.  My pairing stayed the same, but the board number changed.  This time the board number stayed the same, but my opponent was different.  He was already at the board and had an analog clock set up.  I told him I preferred to use a digital clock, so we switched to my clock.

He was much older then me, but I wouldn't find out until later just how much older he was.  I was guessing late 70s or early 80s.  I wasn't even close.  He's 93.  Damn! I hope I'm still alive and able to play chess when I'm 93.  More to the point I hope I can play like he does.  I found out his age at the beginning of round 6 when they awarded prizes to the youngest and oldest players.  He's won the oldest player prize many years in a row.  I should have remembered him from last year because I photographed him and wrote pretty much the same things I just wrote here.  Damn I'm getting senile!

 NTD Bill Snead, organizer Al Losoff, 93 year old Daniel Litowsky

After two games where I struggled playing the White side of the Colle, I decided I would go back to playing the English.  I was happy to get the opportunity to transpose to the Maroczy Bind against what ended out turning into a Sicilian Dragon.  I usually have trouble with the Black side of it so I always welcome the chance to play the White side of it.  I was happy with the position I got out of the opening, and I felt I was better.  From moves 15 through 18 he made 4 queen moves in a row.  I couldn't quite figure out what the queen moves were all about.  It wasn't until he kept attacking my pawn on f4 that I realized with those queen moves he had suckered me into weakening my king position and I was going to lose the pawn on f4. 

At this point I'm really ticked off with myself because I clearly had underestimated this old guy.  Now I was struggling with a position where I was down a pawn, and facing a nasty attack.  When I get angry while playing sometimes I don't use the best judgment in my choice of moves. I made a trade on the h file which allows him to double up his queen and rook on the open h file.  I think he felt he was going to mate me within a few moves because he picks up his clock from the floor and sets it down in front of him as if he'll be leaving the board soon.  Though I don't think he meant any disrespect in his action, I got kind of annoyed.  I was already mad at myself so I was going to look really carefully to see if I was getting mated or not.

As it turned out there was no mate, and in fact after the queens came off the board he made a mistake and I won the exchange.  However he did have two pawns, and his bishop pair was very powerful against my rooks.  In my Fritz analysis it seems I had better chances then I thought I did during the game.  I misplayed it, and then on move 60 hung a rook.  I was going to give back the exchange if I had not overlooked the hanging rook.  Hanging the rook just made it harder. I was so fed up at that point I just resigned.  The position had gone from bad to outright ugly.  Here's the game.


At this point I'm just beside myself.  I couldn't hang out in the tournament area because every time a friend asked me how it was going I just lost it emotionally.  I went back to the hotel room, but then decided what I needed to do was get out into the sunshine.  I should have changed clothes because it was much hotter the it had been on Saturday when I took the pictures of the surrounding landscape and mountains.  It's hard to lose oneself in outdoors when there are lots of cars zipping by.  I took my iPod with me to listen to some soothing music.  There wasn't any direction to walk that lead to anywhere pretty or quiet.  I ended out walking towards the freeway because view of the mountains in that direction was nicer.  I noticed when I got to the bridge that crosses over the freeway that they have put a high fence that curves over the sidewalk.  I guess it's to keep despondent gamblers from jumping off the bridge onto the freeway.  One would have to be a monkey to be able to climb up and over that fence.

My walk didn't last particularly long.  20 minutes in the heat wearing a long sleeve shirt was about all I could take.  Also all the traffic wasn't having the calming affect I so desperately needed.  Walking back inside the hotel wasn't much better.  All the flashing lights and ringing bells from the slot machines get to be overwhelming.  I just try to get through the casino part as fast as possible.  This year I didn't even bother to set aside an entertainment budget to play blackjack. I wanted to spend as little time as possible in the casino area.  I wanted to just hole up in my room and ignore the Vegas glitz.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

National Open - Photo Time!

I had two totally insipid draws.  Both games were ones where I got behind in development, beat back the opponent's pressure and traded down.  *Yawn*  It didn't matter whether I was White or Black.  The games aren't even worth looking at.  Instead today's post features pictures from the tournament.

The hotel is huge.  It's actually one of the nicer hotels I've stayed in for chess.  The rooms are really big, and there are a lot good eating choices within the hotel that are reasonably priced.  The other good thing is everything stays open late so it's easy to grab a bite to eat if your round runs late.  My only gripe is the smell of cigarette smoke.  However it's a casino so what can I expect?  It is easy to walk from my room to the convention center portion without having to go through the casino itself.  Though it is fun to go people watch there.  I can only take the casino in small doses.  Between the noise of the slot machines and the smoke it becomes overload after awhile.

Mountains surrounding Las Vegas

Urban sprawl - Las Vegas Style

I did manage to leave the hotel and go outside and take some pictures of the surrounding scenery.  It was actually very cool.  Looking at the landscape reminds me that this is the desert.  I noticed many new developments surrounding the hotel property.  It's kind of scary thinking about how many people live out here and need lots of water.  My lasting impression of my previous trip out here was flying over Hoover Dam and seeing just how much water loss there has been in Lake Meade.  One can see how far the water line has gone down.

Back inside the tournament room we had the merge of all schedules.  Now at least there won't be disruptions as players from different schedules come in at varying times.  Here's a view from the stage of one side of the room.  My board is way back in the last row near the door.  It has it's good points and bad points.  The good thing is there is no one seated behind me.  The bad point is being near the door.  However my iPod takes care of the noise factor for the most part.  The staff is good about trying to keep things as quiet as possible.

Along with the tournament itself there are lectures and games analysis.  Anna Zatonskih was giving a lecture on zugzwang when I came into observe and take pictures.  She's very animated and keeps the topic lively and entertaining.  The problem she was showing was quite challenging.

WGM Anna Zatonskih

Art Bisguier is available to go over players' game when their done.  At one point I saw a guy waiting patiently by the door in anticipation of Bisguier's arrival.  I guess he had a quick game, and wanted to be the first one on line.

GM Art Bisguier

Art and I go back a long way.  The USCF used to having a visiting Grandmaster program where they would send a GM to various clubs to give a simul and lecture.  The hosting club would take care of his lodging and meals.  The simul and lecture was free, but he'd be available to give private lessons for a reasonable fee.  It was a great program, but after a few years was discontinued for budget reasons.  GM Bisguier came up to Burlington, Vermont on several occasions when I was attending college up there in the early 70s.  He was also the Grandmaster I ever played in a tournament.  I think I got so nervous that I hung a piece on about the 10th move.

After last night's round there is one perfect score remaining.  GM Varuzhan Akobian beat GM Mikheil Kekelidze.  There are 6 players with 3.5 nipping at his heels, so the tournament is far from being decided.

GM Varuzhan Akobian
(Nice shirt!)

Alfred Walker

I didn't even having the nicest chess themed article of clothing yesterday.  That distinction would go to Alfred Walker who was demonstrating his invention "Lucky-Chess".  It's played using either dice or picking a card from a deck.  You have to move what ever piece is shown on the dice or card.  You can choose to roll dice or pick a card.  It's fun and has a large component of luck to it because of the dice and cards.  You might have a great capture, but if you don't roll the piece you need you won't get to make it.  On the other hand the en prise piece may sit for a few moves and you might get to take it.

White may or may not be able to take that on e6.  Black may or may not be able to take the bishop on d5.  It depends who is the lucky one.  Maybe I need to play with the dice.  The moves I'm making by choice can't be any worse then the random moves I may have to make with the roll of the dice.  This Las Vegas after all.  He doesn't have a working website at the moment, but if you're interested in knowing more about the game you can contact him via email.  awlouis438 at yahoo dot com.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rise and Shine Sleepy Head!

I think I need another large cup of tea! I don't like coffee so tea is my caffeinated beverage of choice.  Nothing like waking up at 3:30 am to cell phone buzzing with a text message from my bank with credit card balance.  Oh yes Citi Bank for the city that never sleeps. Note to self: "Turn phone off tonight!"

I went downstairs to get tea at the coffee place in the hotel.  The line was out the door.  I guess all the early morning gamblers need their caffeine fix.  I went outside for the first time since I arrived here.  It was actually really nice out. Morning desert breeze and sunny.  The mountains surrounding the area really are very beautiful.  Yes there is life outside a casino hotel.  One just has to walk out the door to see it. If it's not unbearably hot later, I'll take some pictures.

While eating my breakfast and drinking my tea I was flipping through the book I bought yesterday.  Yes I did buy a book, but it's not really for me per se.  It's the third workbook of an excellent series written by Jeff Coakley of Chess'n Math Association. (Canadian scholastic chess organization.) If you teach chess to children you should check out the site.  They have a wonderful kids chess magazine that you can sign up to receive free by email.  It comes in PDF format.

Getting back to the workbooks, they're a great source of fun problems and excellent teaching material.  I have the first two volumes, but never had gotten around to getting #3.  So yesterday I grabbed the last copy they had in the bookstore.

I'm looking at a couple of the puzzles, and found myself stumped by this mate in 2 for White.

It's not really all that hard, but I spent time looking for spectacular sacrifices and super forcing moves.  However sometimes one needs to apply the KISS principle when analyzing a position.  No spectacular sacrfices needed.  1. Qg6 any move for Black, 2. Qxg7# DUH!

This second problem is very different.  The problem is White to move and not mate in one.  This one involves a little different thought process.

This one had me stymied.  It's hard not to make a move that is not mate.  None of the knight moves work because the other knight will still be guarding the e3 pawn.  King moves don't work because they're all illegal.  The only move that's not mate is 1. Rc6+.  That unpins Black's rook so he can play 1...Rxh7.

Hopefully the inability to solve a couple of problems from a children's workbook, isn't an indicator of how today will go.  Maybe I should go do the mates in 1.  :-)

National Open - Rd 2

In my efforts to provide tournament news along with my own adventures, sometimes I go too far, or maybe not far enough.  I very carefully researched where all the players who won in the simul were from and what their ratings were.  In my report I made the somewhat tongue in cheek comment "I might have to study Quander's game since he's in my section."  Maybe I should have taken the time to look at the game, because I ended out playing him in round two.  Even better might have been not looking up the results of the simuls.  Maybe knowing a little less about my opponent would have been better under the circumstances.

I tried not to let the fact that he beat Zatonskih psych me out, or effect my play against him.  However I think I was already writing the story in my mind while we were playing.  It also didn't help my mental state when he opened 1. d4.  I spent a lot of time on my moves, but sometimes at the slow controls my mind gets too bogged down in the analysis.  I start seeing things that aren't really there, and then get steered away from what is there.  I spent 12 minutes on move 13 which wasn't a great move, but it also wasn't as bad as I thought it was.  I spent another 7 minutes on move 14, which was clearly the losing move.  If anyone was following the game live on Mon Roi they would have thought that I took no time on the crucial 14th move.  That's because I stopped recording on my unit for a few moves, and then put them in afterward.

Here's the game.


Tomorrow is another day.  Hopefully I can get a little better sleep tonight.  The two day schedule starts tomorrow.  Thankfully I am not playing in that madness.  

Friday, June 11, 2010

National Open - Rd. 1

Update:  In the simuls GM Akobian scored 26 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss.  WGM Zatonskih scored 24 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses.  Jonathan Zaczek of Canada scored the lone win against Akobian.  Brian Murphy of Massachusetts and Kent Quander of Michigan beat Zatonskih.  I might have to study Quander's game since he's in my section.

Enough tournament news for the moment.  On to my round one!  I got down to the playing hall a bit early so I could register my Mon Roi for the tournament.  However Jon Haskel who is running the Mon Roi feed had not gotten the pairings early enough, so there wouldn't much in the way of round one games on the live broadcast.  I found my pairing and went to my board.  I had gotten there first so I set up my clock for the 40/2 SD/1 time limit.  It still had the 30/90 SD/1 settings from Santa Clara so I needed to change everything.  

I left the board to get water.  In the meantime my opponent arrived and put his clock down to my right, and moved my clock.  I didn't notice this at first so I moved my clock back to my left.  Then I noticed the other clock.  I asked him if that was his clock.  He answered yes, and I asked him if he preferred to use his since he had Black.  He wanted to use his clock, so my next question was, "Is the 5 second delay on?"  He had the older model of the Chronos Blitz which has its limitations in how much information can be displayed. After two weekends ago I wasn't taking any chances.  I then asked him to run the clock so I could see how the delay, time and move counter would be displayed.  He seemed a little confused by what I was asking, but his father knew exactly what I was asking, and why.  He told me that he reads my blog.  He had read my account of the clock issues at the Capablanca Memorial.

I own that same model of the Chronos, but I stopped using it a number of years ago because I didn't like the display limitations and the size of the move or delay counter.  When one has middle aged eyes that don't see small things easily, a clock with large numbers is preferable.  The large Chronos takes care of that for me.  However my close up vision is not so pathetic that I would need to demand to use my clock.  There are certain clocks where I will ask my opponent who has Black if he would mind using my Chronos instead.  Most people like the Chronos and are perfectly happy to use my clock. If not, it's no big deal.

The round started a little late while they made various announcements acknowledging the organizers, past (Fred Gruenberg) and present (Al Losoff) and tournament information such as time controls and reporting the results.  There was also a moment of silence for Jerry Hanken.  Finally the announcements were over, and the games started.  One of the things they asked was for a signed score sheet with the result circled.  Even if both players were using a Mon Roi they still wanted the top part filled in and signatures and result at the bottom.  I decided I would actual keep score on the paper notation sheet.  I found this had worked well for me in Bermuda in the two rounds where I had done both.

I thought I had the whole clock thing straightened out but on move 10 what I thought was the move counter said 5.  I thought maybe he had changed the settings to have display the delay countdown instead of the move counter.  On move 11 I noticed it now said 6.  I also noticed my time was running and I had made my move.  I don't know how that happened.  I was pretty sure I had pressed the clock since I put a time note on my score sheet, but another 5 minutes were gone.  He said I had not pressed the clock a couple of times which is why the move counter was off.  We pressed the clock back and forth a few times to get synchronized with the actual number of moves made. I guess I missed the button a couple of times which is easy to do with the sensor buttons on the Chronos.

I made sure after that to pay closer attention to the clock after making my move.  At such a long time control losing the few minutes usually isn't a big deal.  Though on those rare occasions when I get into time trouble at this control, I might regret those missed clock hits.  However time was not a factor in this game.  My opponent was using more time then me after awhile.  I didn't get a great position out of the opening, and for awhile I thought I might have problems since he totally dominated the open d file. He had a battery of his queen and a rook on the file.  He would eventually get the second rook on the file, but not before he made the very quiet move move of 16...h6 which gave me an opportunity to complete my development and challenge him on the queen side.  I won a pawn on move 18 which I initially thought he could win back or get counter play for.  

I thought I was going to have grind out a long drawn out ending to convert my pawn advantage.  He undoubled his rooks on the d file which allowed me the move Red1, winning his rook for free or his queen for a rook.  After looking at all his different possibilities, he chose to resign.  I'm always appreciative of the young player who has the maturity and grace not to play out a lost position in a long time control.  Some kids just won't resign, and I'm fine with that.  It used to bug the hell out of me because I felt as though the opponent was insulting my intelligence thinking I'd stalemate or blunder.  Now I treat it as an opportunity to work on tactics and mating patterns.  In this case being the first round of a 3 day tournament it's probably a wise thing to conserve energy instead of hoping for a miracle. Here's the game.


This gave me plenty of time to eat lunch and use my free buffet coupon, and come back to the room and relax.  We'll see what round 2 brings.  I will be Black against another one pointer.  I have my work cut out for me.

Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?

After a long day of traveling across three time zones, I was pretty beat by the time I got to the hotel.  I was reminded of this old Chicago song.

When I don't fly non-stop I always try to keep my watch on the local time of my destination. Before I landed in Dallas, I moved my watch back one hour. When I was on the way to Vegas I went to move my watch back, but I got confused as I was changing it. I looked at my computer and it had one time. I looked at my iPod and it had a different time. So I really didn't know what time it was. It wasn't until I could turn on my cell phone that I could figure out the time.

When I arrived WGM Anna Zatonskih and GM Varuzhan Akobian were giving simuls.  At this time I have no idea if anyone of the participants were able to nick either of them for a half or full point.

GM Varuzhan Akobian

WGM Anna Zatonskih

Simul participants pondering their fate (move).

I can only take so much of watching a simul.  I have a hard enough time playing in one.  My attention span doesn't last long enough while waiting for the player to come back to my board.  After watching the simul for awhile I caught up with various friends of mine who are on the directing staff.  Since I missed all the spring scholastic championships, I had not seen a number of these people since last year's National Open or US Open.  Big chess tournaments like this tend to be like family reunions.  You haven't seen people in ages, but you manage to catch up on what's been going on in the last year.  It's also a chance to meet new people.

I checked out the book store.  Once again Rochester Chess Center is running the concession.  They have lots of beautiful sets, and tons of books and videos.  I will probably end out buying something before the weekend is over.  I always tell myself "Don't buy a new book. Read the ones you bought last year that you have not opened."  However something always catches my eye, and I succumb to temptation.

Around 6:45 Vegas time my body started talking to me.  "Hey it's 9:45 in New York and we have not eaten since the DFW-LAS leg of the trip. I'm tired and I'm hungry."  Now I was faced with what did I want to eat, and where.  The South Point, like most casino hotels overwhelms its customers with lots of different dining choices.  There are 8 different restaurants to choose from.  I finally opted for Don Vito's, an Italian restaurant.  That was one of the places I never made it to last year.  Besides there was a coupon for free dessert.  I'm never one to turn down free dessert.

What I liked about the restaurant was the fact that unlike most of the other options on the casino floor it's in a self-contained space.  That blocks out the constant ringing from the slot machines and the smell of smoke.  I never could become a serious gambler because I hate the smell of smoke.  I suppose smoking might kill off a few gamblers before they piss away all their money at the blackjack table or slot machines.

I had a nice plate of hand rolled ravioli with salad and bread.  It was a nice portion.  One of my friends who is a big guy with a hearty appetite told me he had trouble finishing his prime rib at one of the other hotel restaurants.  He said he left about a third of it behind.  I hate wasting food, so the thought of leaving a third of my meal behind doesn't appeal to me.  I couldn't mind a big portion if I had a refrigerator in the room for leftovers.  However I don't, so I'll probably skip prime rib this weekend.

Another thing I do like about Nevada state law is that you can take your opened bottle of wine with you.  I'm not going to drink an entire bottle by myself, but I usually want a little more then a glass with dinner.  I have what I want with the meal, and take the rest back to my room to have on other evenings after a late night game.  To get myself into the mind set of what I would like to do over the board this weekend, I chose the bottle of wine below.

At the same time as I was enjoying my nice quiet dinner the US Game/10 Championship was going on.  Some of my friends asked me if I was going to play.  Without even knowing what the entry fee was I told them I was going to pass on that.  I wanted to save my energy for the real chess that starts today.  I'm glad I wasn't interested in playing in it.  The entry fee was $100.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I spent enough on the main event.

This has been one of those rare trips out west where I have not been able to stay awake until 11:00 pm local time.  After updating yesterday's post, I crawled into bed around 9:30, which was 12:30 EDT.  That didn't stop me from waking up every few hours wondering what time it was.  I never sleep particularly well the first night in a strange place.  Finally after numerous attempts to stay asleep I got up around 6:30 am.  I did my taekwondo warm up routine and then I went down stairs to get a cup of tea, and milk for my cereal.  

New York is often referred to as "the city that never sleeps."  However I think Vegas also qualifies on that count.  I'm not used to walking through a casino at 7:00 am and seeing a waitress bring someone another bottle of beer. My guess is the guy hasn't gone to bed yet.  With that in mind, what's with housekeeping knocking on my door at 7:55 this morning?  I guess maybe she assumed I was already in the casino getting ready for a day of action.  My action will be on the chess board.  You can follow the action live on Monroi.

As I started working on this post, I started playing around with the new design features in blogger.  The new edit features are still taking getting used to, but I like the new design editor.  I decided after almost 3 years of blogging it was time for a new look.  I hope you like it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Travel Tales at 30,000 Feet.

Greetings from American Airlines Flt 1475 to Las Vegas.  It's been a long day so far.  I got up at 6:15 am, caught 6:50 train into Grand Central.  From there I took the shuttle to Times Square. At Times Square I caught the #2 to Penn Station. At Penn Station I took the 7:53 Jersey Transit train to Newark Airport.  Even then I still had to get on another train to actually get to the airport.  Isn't traveling to the airport just great?  Okay I could have spent $100+ on a taxi, and risked get stuck in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike.  My other possible alternative was taking AMTRAK.  However the first train that stops near me and goes to Newark doesn't leave until 9:00 am and arrives at Newark at 9:50.  Somehow I don't think I would have made my 10:05 flight.  AMTRAK is no bargain either. A 50 minute train ride to Newark costs $48 one way.  I went from Chicago to Indianapolis and back for $36 last summer.

To me it's absurd that a major city like New York does not have a direct train from midtown Manhattan to either La Guardia or JFK airports.  On the other hand in the past few months I've flown into Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco and been able to get a train straight into the city.  Maybe the travel gods don't want people to leave New York.  I could stay home, but I have the family travel genes and can't help myself.

I don't really like Newark airport when I'm flying American.  It's Continental Airlines hub airport so other airlines seem to be treated as the poor stepchild.  The layout for security is really poor.  There aren't enough tables for people to put their stuff in bins.  If you get behind a travel newbie who doesn't know how get his stuff in and out the bins you can be slowed down.  Probably my favorite scene in "Up in the Air" is when George Clooney's character is explaining to his protege who to avoid being behind in the security line.

When I got to spot where one of the rent-a-cops looks at your boarding pass and ID there was a woman having a heated discussion with the rent-a-cop.  Being a savvy traveler she had taken her laptop in it's sleeve out one of her carry on bags.  The guy told her she couldn't take 3 bags through.  She explained that she had taken the laptop out to make easier once she got to the security line.  He doesn't want to hear that.  He's saying "You'll have to check one of them."  In the meantime all I want to do is get him to look at my boarding pass and ID and let me get on line.  I'm not sure how that was finally resolved.  I wasn't going wait around and find out.

When I fly I like to make things easy for myself and for those around me, especially the flight attendants.  It's not the glamorous job everyone thinks it is.  A smile, "please" and "thank you" go a long way.  Sometimes I check my bag, but since I was taking a small suitcase I took on the plane with me.  I keep it at a manageable weight.  I don't want to have to wrestle with my suitcase to get it into the overhead bin.  On the EWR-DFW portion of my trip I was in row 9.  Since I have frequent flier status I get to board after first class.  When I have a suitcase I make sure I'm at the gate in time to board when allowed.  I want to have my suitcase near my seat.

Sitting in my seat I get to see some of the annoying things people do.  It's really annoying when somebody in row 20 decides to put their suitcase in the overhead bin by row 8.  That means the poor schmo in row 8 will have to put his bag back near row 20.  Ever tried to go towards the back of a plane when everyone is trying to get off?  Also got to love the people who try to cram bags up there that clearly isn't meant to be carried on.  Fortunately they're paying closer attention to what people try to bring on the plane.  Though I'm sure some people do it deliberately in order to game the system.  Why pay for checking a bag at the counter when you can gate check it for free because there's not enough room overhead?

I love non-chess players' perspective on what I'm doing.  I got talking with a couple of the flight attendants while waiting to use the bathroom.  I mentioned that I was on my way to Las Vegas to play in a big chess tournament.  They asked me if there was money, and whether it would be televised.  I told them there was money to win, but no it wouldn't be televised.  One said "That's too bad.  If you won big and saw you on TV, we could say you were on our flight." Wishful thinking.

I love airline people who have a sense of humor.  When I got to DFW I went to the Admiral's Club to wait for my next flight.  You have to show your membership card to get in.  There were two ladies working at the front desk.  One lady was checking in a family of four.  One of the kids asked his dad "What is this place?" The lady behind the desk says "This where your parents leave you while they go on vacation. I'll be in charge of you while they're away."  The kid's eyes got real big, like he thought she might be serious.  Then she told him it wasn't true.  I told the lady helping me that I'm sure some parents would pay a lot more for their membership if they could leave their kids there.  I got on the elevator with the family.  His dad asked him if he really believed what the lady said.  The kid said just for a minute.  I think it was longer then a minute, but what kid wants to admit that he's gullible enough to believe that he would be left at the airport while his parents went on vacation?

Looking out the window of the plane and see nothing but desert.  I think we're getting close.  Signing off before I lose my changes.  Stay tuned for tournament reports.

After I signed off I had one of those truly humorous moments that gave a lot of people in coach a good laugh.  We were starting our descent into LAS and the usual announcement comes on. "At this time please remain seated until the captain turns off the seat belt sign. If you want to use your cell phone once we land please make sure it's accessible."  I very carefully took it out of my bag and as we were making our descent it fell out of my hand.  It went sliding down the aisle past many rows of passengers who were now laughing as my phone went flying past them.  I was back on row 20, and my phone finally stopped sliding around row 8.  Thankfully it didn't make all the way to row 3 in first class.  When it finally stopped someone picked it up and passed to the person behind them.  Row by row it got back towards me.  The last person with my phone looks at me and says "5 dollas".  We all had a good laugh.  I never planned to be the inflight entertainment, but sometimes you have to roll with the punches, or perhaps in this case roll with the plane.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Capablanca Memorial - Recap

Sominex Sunday (Yawn!)

When I last wrote I mentioned that I was going into round 3 with hopes of breaking the "wall chart castling" (0 0) trend.  I did have White against a 1785 who also had no points.  Our game was an example of two players trying not to lose.  It was a pathetically boring draw.  However it did stop the losing streak at two.  In round 4 the two schedules merged.  As the low half pointer I dropped down to play a zero pointer.  Once again I had White.

My fourth round opponent was a little late getting to the board.  I get a little paranoid when paired against somebody who has lost all their games on the short schedule and hasn't come to the board.  The thought crosses my mind that he got fed up and went home.  However when the opponent is the son of the organizer there is no way he is withdrawing without notifying the director.  It had just taken me a few minutes to make the connection when I looked at the last name I had written down.  DUH!   The game started out quietly with a bunch of trades.  We both made a few attempts to mix things up a bit in an ending with two rooks and seven pawns each.  There wasn't much to do with a position like that unless either one of us made a gross blunder.  Eventually I realized this position had no possibilities and I offered a draw.  He accepted.  On Monday his father told me that his son thought it was one of the most boring games he played.  I wasn't going to argue the point.  After my crappy Saturday, my play was pretty uninspired on Sunday.  The only fireworks I saw were outside, not over the board.

The hotel is located across the street from CA Great America Amusement Park.  One could hear the screams from people riding roller coasters and other thrill rides.  I actually had gone to that amusement park back in 1981 when playing at the US Open in Palo Alto.  I got dragged onto some ride that I really didn't want to do.  One of these years I'll get around to writing about that tournament for my other chess blog since it was my first California event, but I digress.  They had a 15 minute fireworks display that could be seen from the hotel parking lot.  I actually went up the 2nd floor of the parking garage and found a spot to prop my camera so I could hold it relatively still.  The two pictures below are just a few of the numerous shots I took.  The fireworks were not as impressive as the 4th of July ones I photographed in New York City last year, but I liked being able to keep the camera steadier.

Timing Is Everything

One of the challenges of traveling and staying at a hotel is trying to not go broke on food.  Hotel food albeit convenient is never cheap.  There were reasonably priced alternatives across the street, so I would go have breakfast at one place, and later on get lunch and dinner at another place.  Unfortunately the bagel shop where I had been getting breakfast was closed on Memorial Day.  I looked at the breakfast buffet prices at the hotel and decided I wasn't in the mood to pay $19.95 for breakfast.  I tried going to the IHOP across the street, but the wait was going to be too long, so I ended out coming back to the hotel for the breakfast.

I can justify the over priced breakfast buffet by making the most out of it.  That means grabbing a bagel or extra slices of bread, some cold cuts and making a sandwich for lunch.  An apple or orange rounds out the lunch.  Some people might argue that one should only take what they're going to eat at the meal.  However between what I did eat at the table, and what I took for later I had as much as some people would eat in one sitting.  However an omelet, slice of toast and a bowl of fresh fruit was plenty for breakfast.

I happened to have been seated next to three teachers from Orange County who had taken a road trip up to San Francisco and were now making their way back down south via Santa Clara to Monterrey and Carmel.  We got talking about some of the issues we deal with as teachers with misbehaving kids.  They teach middle school and high school, but some of the problems are the same that I see with elementary school kids.  They were interested in the fact that I taught chess in school.  It was an interesting discussion, and a nice way to pass time during breakfast.  Most of the time when I travel by myself I eat in solitude with a book or newspaper to keep my company.

They finished up before me, and were taking care of their check.  One of the women had won a $100 gift certificate for the hotel restaurant.  I wasn't paying much attention to the discussion between her and the waiter, but the next thing I know she was pointing to me.  I look up and say "What just happened?" She explained that she just took care of my breakfast for me because she couldn't get get cash back on the gift certificate.  She figured why waste the balance.   I thanked her very much, and thought to myself "Wasn't that a lucky break on my part?" Timing and location was perfect.  I was hoping maybe such serendipity would carry over to my morning round.

Delayed Reaction

Due to my longer then planned breakfast I arrived at the board about five minutes late.  My opponent had provided the clock, and it was running when I sat down.  The kid had the exact same model of the Chronos clock that I had, and it appeared that he had set it the same way I set mine.  There are a few different ways to set the display for any given time control.  I didn't give the clock anymore thought and proceeded to get into a very interesting game. Unlike me who played very quietly with White, my opponent played aggressively trying to set up a Yugoslav type setup against my Accelerated Dragon. However I managed to discourage him from castling queen side with a knight trade that messed up his pawn structure.

I won a pawn on the 23rd move when I played Qxa2.  I spent a lot of time thinking about the capture to make sure it wasn't a poisoned pawn.  Sometimes I have a tendency to grab a pawn like that and ask questions later.  However when the questions are "Will I get my queen trapped? or "How will I leave the area if he attacks?" it's better to answer the questions first before making a decision.  Longer time controls give you that opportunity to find the right answers.  I didn't hold onto the pawn as long as I would have liked, and fortunately for me he misplayed a few moves after we made time control.

It was when we made time control that I finally noticed that he had not set the clock with the 5 second delay*.  I'm not sure why I didn't notice before that point.  I got rather annoyed with my opponent and said "You didn't set the delay."  He calmly said "I know."  Though I knew I probably would not get it changed, I still went to talk to the tournament director.  I'm a tournament director so I know the drill.  If I had spotted it within the first couple of moves I could have gotten it corrected, but at this point I knew I was SOL and would have to deal with it.  Fortunately with a time limit of 30/90 SD/1 I should be okay.  We both made our 30th moves with 20 minutes to spare.

* Note for my foreign readers.  Time delay is an American thing.  The clock counts down 5 seconds and then starts the main time.  Unlike increment where the time can accumulate if you use less then the increment time, delay time doesn't accumulate.  So if you only use one second of the delay, you don't get the remaining 4 seconds added.

I eventually won another pawn, and very cautiously squeezed out the ending.  I missed chances to make it easier, but I eventually got the remaining minor pieces off the board, and able to penetrate with my king, and was on the verge of promoting when he resigned.  We had played 80 moves over the course of 4 1/4 hours.  I was happy he didn't make me play it all the way down to mate.  Here's the game.  I thought I played really well, but both of us had made errors.


Afterward I discussed the clock issue and asked him why he had not set the delay.  He said he didn't know how to set the delay.  I thought maybe he had just gotten the clock, but he's actually owned for awhile.  I told him he should learn how to set it correctly since delay is the preferred method.  I also said that if he doesn't set the delay, he should at least let the opponent know there is no delay so that the opponent has the option to provide a clock with delay or isn't surprised later on.  I'm not saying that he was deliberately trying to deceive me, but I didn't think it was very sporting not to say anything.  I've heard kids boast that they don't set the delay intentionally to deceive the opponent.  At a long time control such as 40/2 SD/1 or 30/90 SD/1 it may not make a big difference, but at a short control such as G/30 or G/60 the delay time becomes far more important.

Finally I had a win to my credit.  If I could win the last round then I could salvage an even score.  That would make for a very satisfying result since I was one of the lowest rated players in the section.  After starting the tournament with 3 straight adult opponents, I ended the tournament with three straight kid opponents.  My opponent got to the board first, and had put his clock out.  He also had a Chronos clock.  Having learned my lesson from the previous round, I asked him if the delay was on.  He said no.  I told him delay was the preferred setting, and that I wanted to play with delay.  I started to take my clock out, but he quickly reset his clock with delay.  This opponent wasn't claiming to not know how to set it.  He just decided he would not use delay.  Maybe it's a Northern California thing, but everywhere else I play anyone who has a delay clock, uses the delay.

This game could be subtitled "Dancing With Knights".  We both were making many knight moves, particularly late in the game.  We were both trying to maneuver our knights into enemy territory.  However it was apparent that neither of us were going to let the other cause problems with knights lodged deep the opponent's territory.  7 out my final 10 moves were knight moves. My opponent made 5 knight moves in the final 10 moves.  We finally agreed to draw on move 35.  Once again my play with White led to another drawn position.  My games with Black were far more interesting and despite losing 2 of them, I felt I played much better with Black.

Co-Champions of A+ Section

Winston Zeng  

Manuel Mangrobang III

An interesting sidebar to this tournament was how my section ended up.  If you remember, I handed my first round opponent, Manuel Mangrobang III a large gift when I did not play 24...f6 to stop his threat of 25. Rxg5.  I guess he was so inspired by not having to play out an ending down a pawn with 4 pawn islands, that he went on to win his next 4 rounds to go into round 6 with a 5-0 record.  He simply needed a draw against his last round opponent to win clear first.  Unfortunately he last round opponent was Winston Zeng, a sharp 9 year old kid who I lost to last year at the National Open.  He had about as much luck as I did against Winston, so the two of them tied for first.

As far as the annoying opponent I played in round two, he was just as obnoxious in the other rounds too.  He annoyed his other opponents with the piece and clock slamming.  It was amusing watch him slam a piece in triumph only to find the opponent refuting the move, and going on to win.  He ended out with the same score as me. If I end out having to play him at the National Open this weekend I'm not going put up with his crap.  He is playing in my section

I wrote a tournament report about the event which is on Chess Life Online.  There one can read about the overall tournament.