Fall Classic Tournament

….also called the Winter Springs Open, but apparently since it’s not “Winter” yet….

Round 1

I saw 24…Qc4 with half a minute left, but was looking for anything better 24…Bxb4! –+.  When I saw I was at five seconds, I played my move and pressed the clock, but somehow it said 30 seconds and flag light was on, so I must have been a tenth of a second too slow, when I was expecting to have made the move with two or three seconds still left.  In the post-mortem, I was mating or winning several different ways against Rhett’s various tries.  he did eventually play the best 28.Nc4, giving up two pawns for the piece but tried 28.Nc4 bxN, 29.Qxa3 Rf7, 30.RxR BxR, 31.bxc? (Rhett and Expert Daniel both chose this capture, which I didn’t see the point of since b1 is controlled by my bishop).  31.dxc is the only way to play on (neither one could hold it after 31.bxc?) with three pawns for the piece.

Round 2

Again, this time on move 40, I played 40…Kf3?? (naturally not seeing the saving move 40…Nf1), knowing that 40…f4+ would be winning for him.  Well, again and this time I was watching the clock when I pressed it, and his clock flagged me as soon as I had pressed the button.  I asked him what his move would be, since I wanted to know if he would have played …f4+, and after some thought he did play that move and won the position easily post-mortem.  We were both nervous during this game and probably both having trouble concentrating (he is closer to my age) compared to Round 1, when a mind is fresh, and we both got under a minute, so neither had any extended time to think and we both had to rattle off moves.  If this had been 40/2hrs time control, there would theoretically be ten minutes left for my 40th move.

Over the years, time-controls for weekend chess tournaments (What happened to “Chess Congress”es?) have gradually gotten faster, and I can’t see how this would benefit people who both study chess books and play in these tournaments unless they are gifted young kids whose parents drag them around to every local tournament (there are many in Colorado – but not in most states!).

Anyway, I may get a bye for Round 3 because I have such a low-score – which sucks, particularly for that reason!.  One thing is for sure that I will get little sleep yet again.

Getting back to the game, I wanted to play 23.Bc1 followed by 24.Ng5, which is winning, but didn’t trust it because it looked anti-positional, and I just didn’t have that much time left to risk missing something.  Also, earlier, I strongly considered 16.c5 pawn sac, as I had been setting up for it for many moves, and figured on 16.c5 bxc, 17.Rb1 Qc6 which opens line against his king, and gets me a great game, but I went for the more positional continuation, and he defended better than I had expected him to.

Funny thing about this game, I forgot to bring a pen, and I used the only junk pen left at the table, and it literally fell apart, and it was taking me a long time to write the moves as all I had to write with was that little skinny plastic ink cartridge the width of the ball.  Despite about five players and the TD watching, no one offered me a pen to borrow even though I kept dropping it as I tried to write my moves.

Round 3

Despite flagging in the two previous games, I got into time-pressure in this game as well, making quite a few moves with 15 seconds remaining, and wisely not letting the time ever drop below that point.

Round 4

Started this game out slow, as if an another flagging would be impending.  She played this …d6-d5 dragon variation, which I had always wanted to play against as White.  Stockfish says her queen trade was a mistake, she should play …Qc7 instead.  Most theoreticians frown on winning the d5 pawn, but I wanted to, and have never thought it too cool that Black was giving up a pawn like that.

After 7.f3, I had 1 hr and five minutes remaining, as I was looking at lines where Black plays 7…Qb6? instead of 7…0-0.  It was her not playing of …Nc6 that threw me off.

When I played 10.exd5, seeing the variation in which I would win a pawn, I had 53 minutes left.  This might seem freaky of me, but from this point on I played on the increment and actually finished the game with that same 53 minutes remaining on my clock!  I had anticipated her moves, so the game felt like it played itself, and it was sharp, and concrete enough that no second-guessing was required.

On a lighter note, funniest flagging I’ve seen, the game was barely started.

New Opponent, Veteran Player

Round 4

Wow, the USCF ratings go back 25 years, and 25 years ago Larry was rated 1815.  He’s literally been bouncing around just below 1800 and 1850 for at least a quarter of a century.  People have lived and died in less time than Larry’s rating has moved.  hehe. (all in jest).  I’ve noticed that this is sort of how my rating has been going, so I can kid around since it maybe a sad truth, but he has probably accepted it long ago, and I sort of accept it as well, can’t control the future when it comes to a chess rating.  I wasn’t nervous at all like I usually am; had less than half a glass of water, and didn’t seem to sweat at all, no real nerves.

 

 

Endgame Blunder (Ad Infinitum)

Round 4 – final round

Aside from poor time-management which cost me the draw, and quite possibly a win, this game was still interesting.  I had 8 minutes left after move 22, which explains the debacle.  Sam offered me draw while I had just under 4 minutes and he just under 10 minutes, but I wanted to play it out for the experience, since this was a last round game and only a win would split second place.  Besides, Winter Springs tournament is coming up this weekend, where I play in the Open section and stand to gain rating points, so I figured I needed the practice.

After 28 moves, should I play 29…g5, I am up .86 or let’s say it’s -.86, since I am Black.  Well, I was going to play that move when I quickly played 29…Bg7 because I literally forgot the move I was going to make, which explains why I put the bishop back there on the next move.  In the post-game, I asked him about this move, and let him know I had forgotten to play it.  He continued with 30.Ke3 and I with 30…fxe, 31.fxe Bg7 and followed up with 31…Rh8, which Stockfish says is -1.75 in Black’s favor.

When I played 30…Bh6 again, I spotted his 31.Ra3, but literally didn’t know quite what I should do about it yet, and actually played this move hoping he wouldn’t notice, lol, and he hadn’t noticed it yet so didn’t play it.  After the game, I said to Sam and Pete that I should have played 30…a6, but I spotted this move in the game literally a move too late.  This is what happens to me in time-pressure, my evaluations go haywire, then I don’t spot the ideas in the position in time, and this is like the first game ever where I simply forgot to play a move.  Anyway, as you can see, my brain did go haywire and then I started dropping material all over the place when I got down to half a minute.  This game could have easily been a win or a draw without that time-pressure meltdown.  Good luck tomorrow Magnus and Sergey!  You can see how I can’t cope well, in a real tournament game, with acute time-pressure, even though I can play very well up to that point, if I may say so myself.  A life-long disease that’s followed me all the way from my 1200 level playing days.  Anyway, I wasn’t taking this game that seriously as to the result, if it’s any consolation to the reader.

When he played 31.h4 and I took it en-passant, I realized all the trouble that I would get into, but figured it might be the only way to play for a win, and also I wanted to test my skill from an inferior position possibly whether I could still draw or win.

33…Rh8?  I figured this move was a blunder, but not losing yet, and I had to make a move and hadn’t figured out the defense …a6 just yet, didn’t spot it for some reason.

38…Bf8?  My intuition told me strongly here that I must play 38…Rb8, yet the part of my brain which analyzes variations couldn’t grasp why I should play this and let go of the a-pawn.  Another move casualty of time-pressure.

The rest of the game requires no comment, analysis-wise, other than to say that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t played …c6, and then dropped my bishop two moves later.  I was playing instant moves, and my clock was actually back up to over 2 and 1/2 minutes, I was blitzing and blundering wildly.  If this were a five second increment, my opponent may have blundered back, but since he had stayed five minutes up on the clock back when it was winning for him, there was no chance of the clock being a factor, although he was only up by a minute by this point.

Silly loss, but still a great game as far as the content was concerned.  I figured I should be able to draw “drawn-ish” positions and not rely on my opponent’s offer because when I play up not only will they not offer a draw, but they will not accept one either and will require me to show them the draw.

It’s unfortunate that I have a slow memory.  I looked at the chair where I was sitting, and didn’t see a jacket, then walked outside toward my car and the cold made me realize I had brought a jacket and probably left it on the chair on the other table.  Paul had already locked up when I got back and I had to go cross town to get the keys from him.  I can remember days in my life 45 years ago vividly, but my “think on my feet” memory can be slow, even though I can show a quick-wit, in person.

The interesting thing that I remember now is that when Sam offered me the draw, and I verbally declined it, that that is the same move where I suddenly forgot my plan and played Bh6-g7.  That draw offer must have gotten inside my head worse than I thought because that is the point in the game where my play/form went all downhill after that.  It’s like I relaxed and had a tough position at the same time after declining the draw, and I was also more nervous as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Endgame Blunder…Again! (err, as per usual?)

Round 3

I played C3 Sicilian, then realized that he’s probably gonna play …e5 because he just switched to Sicilian and has probably never seen this line before.

Once again, it got positional, nearly equal, and I should have started to play for small, dare I say tiny goals. But instead, I “went for it” (when don’t I?). He calculated better than me (he’s almost a Class B player, but he beat an Expert last week, and is doing well in both tournaments this month). I got the dumb luck reward out of this deal, and soon was playing for a win.

Then he got his pawns going on kingside, vs mine on the queenside, it was a race. I bungled in time-pressure, and finally got plumb tired as he “dropped a piece”. So, I just took the piece, decided to not even bother calculating, then looked down to notice he could push a pawn. He didn’t push it.  I suppose he was trying to save this pawn-push as a threat for “later”.  He spent a solid minute before not playing …f3; my quick play had probably had an effect on his decision.  This game made me realize what fatigue can do, combined with time-pressure, late in games.

Quick Chess Tournament

Round 1

She didn’t castle.

Round 2

I debated between 4…Nc6, and 4…c5.   4…c5 was weak.
Round 3

I flagged, but he was winning  and easily stopped all my tries during the post-mortem where we kept playing on.   I hadn’t wanted to play …Qd7 when I did, and didn’t see his queen and bishop batter happening either.
Round 4

Even though Round 4 could be considered a meaningless game, it is the one that stung.  I kept seeing better moves a few seconds late, and I can’t imagine blundering so many times as that were it a slow game.  Also, by round 4 of a quick-chess tournament I find that it becomes next to impossible to have impulse control.  Nevertheless, I flagged on move 37, when it was losing, and he called my flag on move 39, when it was a draw, and we played it out post-mortem until the very end.  I drew against all of his tries, and even promoted my pawn once (winning).  Nevertheless, he insisted that he missed a win in the drawn position.  It felt insulting in a way because I knew it was a draw the whole time, and he still didn’t want to accept that fact, but I’m sure it wasn’t intentional.

Stonewall Attack game

I might have to look this up on a database, but if anyone knows a better way to handle the Stonewall Attack as Black, I’d sure appreciate any advice.  Lower rated players get this automatically strong position the way I play it.  Of course, in this game I won, but I think he was close to +2 at one moment.