Wednesday Round 1 – December

In this game I had Black against Alex. I lost on time as I was making the move ..Rg6, then I saw the mate with ..Rd8 and ..Rd4, plus the king gets mated no matter what it does. I saw 4 seconds and waited until I saw 3 to move, but it takes 3.5 seconds for me to move, apparently that’s as fast as I can physically complete a move.

My opponent angrily said “Flag!”, so I told him “you don’t have to yell”. I would have said “good game” since it was over.

Afterwards, Mark pulled out a book and lectured on what theory says about this opening even though neither of us wanted to here it since that wasn’t what this game was about. Of course he tells me to play safer and time-pressure is bad, and my opponent gloats and shoots out the scoresheet for me to sign (it’s really just a formality). People get so amped up. I was upset for about a minute that I lost of time, but the whole mantra of “you must be playing like crap because you lost” is a complete turnoff and if I were to stop playing, that would be why.

I wanted to congratulate my opponent, win or lose, on the fact that he went for a job interview. I find it semi-disgusting that everything has to be about chess nonstop, and that I don’t make any friendships or hang-out outside the playing hall. It would be nice if people would simmer-down and take it easy. It’s not as if $100 bet were riding on the game, although $40 first place should excite me more to win. It’s 5 rounds, and I didn’t get very nervous during the game, just there to have fun. The really important stuff is what we do during the day.

Yes, he offered me a draw with a minute, but I told him “Naw, I don’t want a draw”. What fun is that? How am I going to learn to be responsible with my clock if I take an easy draw offer. The draw wouldn’t have bothered me that much either, but I am trying to improve for when I play stronger players some day, I am not trying to “game the tournament.” My opponent had actually prepared for this game with Fritz but I didn’t like that line, but then they are trying to convince at first that I am wrong. Good gravy, I won a piece in the opening, and tried to explain that wasn’t the issue in this game, it was playing through complications and time-management.

He did have just under an hour on his clock, but that wouldn’t have made any difference, I simply didn’t realize that I was taking up too much time with my moves, and forgot that I needed to try and finish the game with at least 10 minutes remaining, that thought slipped my mind. I don’t believe that I “suck” just because I lost a game or that my opponent has now suddenly “improved” his game after being lost pretty much the whole game – he plays fast, this time it helped him.

Right after move 20, I saw that …e4 instead of trading queen for rook and piece was probably stronger, but even then I knew that it would have been more time spent to analyze that line. I realized with the queen trade that that would make it difficult for me on the clock but it looked fun and challenging. Incidentally, he had made more queen checks with his queen, but under 5 minutes I stopped recording so I didn’t include them all.

Mark’s suggestion that I don’t play that line against him because my opponent trained on it with Fritz, or that he now knows hot to play against the C3 Sicilian because the database says that …g6 has the highest percentage of wins. Look, I respect that people have prepared their openings, it is an admirable quality, but it should be completely obvious that an OTB game in chess is about sorting through complications, not about tricking someone with an opening line. Well, guess I had to get that off my chest – I basically said as much there in so many words. I have played the line in the game a few times before. My opponent first said that my …Qc7 in the opening “was a mistake”. Oh, lets see what the book says (an old beat-up Batsford chess openings encyclopedia is produced), book says …Rb8, which I basically knew but didn’t prefer that line. Yep, that’s what happened, I forgot to play the right move on move 3 and lost the game, I hate when that happens. 😉

I don’t understand why I go to play chess to have fun and socialize a bit, and then get treated as I am going through “customs” from Afghanistan after a game. Me and my opponent were on good terms before the game (still are), so I wasn’t there to prove anything to him, even felt a little sorry for him during the game. I am really not afraid of anyone OTB. Sure, there are some higher-rated players than me that have won against me, but I hardly ever get a chance to play these higher-rated opponents, anyway. Everyone takes it so seriously, it’s not very gracious. I even thank my opponents after the game sometimes, even on the internet we do that sometimes. Sometimes I think “Why does everyone act like I am getting paid to do this?” and by they I mean the people that I play with. “I coulda beat you!” So what? It’s just a game, and they probably haven’t put into what I have, either.

Here is a miniature that I just played on FICS:

Reason I show this is that I play with no fear against higher-rated. I can even solve the combos from the anthology book, it’s simply mis-managed use of time at the board that can do me in like nothing else, I suppose, and I really didn’t need all that time, simply didn’t allot it correctly and even stopped writing down my times like I usually do. For some reason, I stopped caring so much about the clock, but I knew that I wasn’t budgeting my time well. My biggest problem is that I do have to budget my time because I often need a minute a move to play comfortably. I’ve stopped doing that heart-palpitating blitz stuff, just isn’t worth it, my heartbeat doesn’t even pick up that much and I am definitely not as nervous as my opponents. If you play enough, that is what happens.

Botvinnik said not to play 2 weeks before a tournament to keep that hunger, but I know what he meant. If you play too much you normalize to it, whereas if you don’t, you become an excited freak and love to blitz in those cliffhangers and get like an egomaniacal wildman. That is not my chess ideal, but I suppose it may work when it comes to crosstable results.

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4 thoughts on “Wednesday Round 1 – December

  1. A very sad game. It reminded me the game Maple Leafs played on Tuesday with Tampa Bay Lightning, they played well, were leading almost all the time, had at some moment 3:1, then 3:2 and then Tampa scored with 8 seconds left having empty net. Then Tampa scored again in the overtime and won. It was heartbreaking.
    Your opponent probably got offended that you declined the draw offer, though you didn’t have to agree to a draw in a won position. Too bad the people in your club behave the way you describe. I wouldn’t try to find too much socializing there anyway, even in my two clubs where people are generally quite nice I don’t get to talk too much, it is always occasional.
    You didn’t suck in that game, you played well, but, frankly, your time management sucks big time. Unless you fix it your game will not be solid and you will get sometimes losses like this. By the way it was a second (at least) loss like this for the Leafs and there are some serious reasons behind it.
    You must have some time milestones during the game.
    I think you shouldn’t listen to anybody regarding the openings and play whatever you are comfortable with. I am still feeling much more comfortable playing with Black 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 than 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6.
    You won a piece, that’s it, doesn’t matter what he prepared.

  2. The game turned when I decided to play ..Nxc2. I had seen this combination all the way through to ..Nc2, but then I balked when I got to that position. I could have played Qxc2, had more than enough time left for the game and simply won (a dull, blitzing game), but I decided that it was more important to entertain complications and find best moves, wherever that may lead, so that I could improve my OTB strength.

    I think the best move instead of my ..QxR was ..Rc8. Again, if I saved a little more time for that move, I should have seen that idea, there is really no excuse other than making that move a little too quick and not having saved enough time for that move.

    It was an interesting finish, but perhaps I simply didn’t know how to budget my time because I was trying to do something different, instead of a stale win like I go for time after time against lower-rated players. He wasn’t concentrating as well as I was, which was just as obvious OTB.

    “Your opponent probably got offended that you declined the draw offer”
    I hadn’t even thought about that, but you are right that’s exactly what it was. After the game I tried to explain why I refused the draw, and actually the better player, I feel, needs to learn how to win in those situations, up on the board and down on time, not just accept a draw because of clock-mismanagement.

    Against 1.d4 and 1.c4, I feel much more comfortable lately. I don’t even think “I am getting a benoni-ish position” when that occurs, but always think “OMG, I am getting a Benko gambit in as Black without losing a pawn!” Actually, last I remembered I couldn’t stand the prospect of getting a Benoni as Black so I’m not exactly sure what kind of opening I am getting, but it must not be a Benoni because I haven’t been getting pressed into playing typical Benoni moves such as …Nf6-d7.

    I am thinking more deeply now, OTB. I have experience with just about anything in the opening although most people online play 1.e4, not 1.d4. OTB, most people play 1.d4 at the club. My opponent only played 1.e4 because I told him that I would not play the French as Black if he played 1.e4. Clearly, he would be safer with 1.d4, IMHO, where White can fluff off a lot more and not expect to possibly lose a piece in only 10 moves or so. Well, a sharp line like he played is only going to favor me, not him. Max-Lange Attack is a safer sharp line than the one he played, which is probably why it is so popular on FICS these days. OTH, the cheapo wins for White are dwindling the more one sees it as Black, still a very dangerous line for Black, though, tactically, and even White can get busted quick.

    In the past, I would say “Yes, play sharp lines against me, I am not that good tactically!” Now I would say that depends more on the players rating, and even then it’s probably not the best way to play against me, OTB. I mean, I still don’t know what to do against the Dragon as White with 0-0-0, so I quit that, but I would play 0-0 anyhow and get a decent game, if not drawish. I think 0-0-0 there and Black is simply better, although chances are something else. The best way to win against me is A) to hope that I lose on time, which is not as likely as it would seem since this game I was experimenting and invited time-trouble, or B) to hope that I lose my way later in the game or in a tough endgame. B is a much stronger possibility because it’s even harder to budget time, energy, flexible mindset for an endgame than it is in a tactical game.

    I should have been able to play that game more quickly, and a stronger player should, but switching to an endgame after a tough middlegame battle, and not budgeting time for that is even more deadly when it comes to maintaining a solid rating. I am simply not playing stronger players and getting into endgames because I have blown it too early, or too many tactical mistakes through quick-play on both sides. And endgames are even more of a turkey-shoot because lower-rated players can be better in the endgame phase, or find a hole in one’s endgame knowledge. I have lost so many endgames online that I don’t have that many holes left, relatively speaking to some of them, but clock management can be even more an issue there since it’s no longer just about “spotting tacitcs” but not losing a global/strategic perspective of where one is on the board.

    Frankly, it’s a little sad when someone plays a sharp line against me OTB, but then wants to move quickly and not explore the position more – that is hopeless, IMHO. Even online people know to take their time in such positions, but a lot of club players will tell me that they are better at faster time-controls because they move too fast.

    My opponent told me he “drew against Fritz” in this opening (..Na4 that we played ), but apparently Fritz plays a queen trade line as Black, which even Mark liked. I had to explain to both of them (learned this principle from Katar) that Black is down a pawn and not supposed to trade queens where White can win an endgame being a pawn up, so I guess that had eluded them. Actually, avoiding the queen trade part is elementary, I mean more not trading pieces at all. But Mark pointed out that Black had more piece development in that line. Sure, but give me a break, that extra development may go for a positional win somehow with better play but White’s king is relatively safe enough there. Sure, I guess I could treat it sort of as a “Benko-gambit” line, and it is playable, although interestingly my opponent had expected to see that line, OTB (trading queens on d5).

    The biggest mistake that I made in that game was actually to have tried to purposely use the 5-second delay for thinking and not making moves that I know I would have made instantly online, as if I didn’t want to accept that I simply needed to blitz. The only thing that 5 second covers is completing the moves. My hand should be going straight to the board after every move and even then a “hover” hesitation can cause the move to last more than 5 seconds. 5 seconds is not thinking time, one has to think with their hands as they move hesitate at lightning speed one or more times, and then move it quick. I was not doing that. Online, yes I do play blitz, but it is not physically the same thing with moving a mouse. A person really does benefit a bit from playing blitz OTB for physical movement’s sake. It’s something that I did long ago as a class D player, but really haven’t done since. Online chess has cut into the natural desire to play blitz at a club, but it helps to have experience with that OTB. Online, one doesn’t have to punch a clock. It’s easy to think “no way does it take 2 seconds to punch a clock” but it does, seems to take over 2 seconds to punch the clock – I’d say allot over 4 seconds minimum to complete a move, largely because 3.1 seconds can count as 4 seconds, my clock seems to work that way, there is no 0.9 seconds. 0.9 seconds on my clock is apparently rounded off to 0 seconds, even when it is not the last move of the game.

    Not only that, but I physically punched my clock and then it seemed to beep about .1 seconds after I hit the clock, which freaked me out (and then him yelling “flag!” as soon as that happened), so there may be a delay there or perhaps the beep sound is simply delayed, but the whole thing felt strange as I was planning on having 2 seconds left. When my clock beeps, it’s really loud too, the whole room can hear it. I remember 2 horizontal bars appeared on the clock just before I finished pressing down, and then it beeped, so there was a delay between the clock timing-out and it beeping. Disconcerting, so it’s best not to get into that situation.

    Hockey is a little different than before the days of 1 pt. OT, if you lose. People would guard their nets more and haul people down with or without (usually) getting a penalty. Nowadays, no one hauls anyone down anymore for an intentional penalty, the hooking gets called much more than it did, etc. So I think teams just bank on getting that one point, psychologically. Plus, the four on four is more of a talent game than the old days where all players played and a defenseman’s strength was often in hooking, hauling-down, pushing, cross-checking, shot blocking. So, it’s not a team game as much as it was, more a talent game nowdays.

  3. Nxc2 was fine, you have a huge advantage after that. Why did you play Qxc4?
    There is no threat to your king, you could play … e4 instead of it.
    I think, we shouldn’t be looking for artificial ways to make the game more interesting and complicated, there is no place for entertaining while playing OTB ( you can do it on FICS as much as you want). The people simply compete very hard, even lower rated.
    There is no stale win OTB – as they say in England: “The most beautiful thing in the football game is the score”.

  4. Well, that’s good to know, so my unimpressive wins over extremely poor playing opponents still counts then. 🙂

    Budgeting time really is huge when it comes to moves like that one. I was going to play the safe ..Qb6, but I was looking at so many moves with very different implications.

    There was ..Qb6, there was the faulty ..QxR which was a blunder really as only after did I realize he would play e3 and then move the bishop, so yes it was a true blunder. I barely missed seeing …e4 before I moved. …Rc8 would have been great as he probably spends some time before realizing that Rc3 is forced, and I can end up trading off that rook (after ..Qb6).

    Oh, going back to ..Nc2, I was worried that he might play Ng5 and then get his rook and bishop into the attack, along with his queen, but then I saw the Qc1 mate and that changed my opinion of it.

    I was also worried that he would win back my Na1 but in the time it takes to do that I can trade off a rook and simply be up a rook with equal pieces, and really a winning attack with his queen way back there or even with Ba1. Calculating and thinking in terms of general considerations are almost like two different beasts. I am probably overchessed the last few days and definitely feeling it today for the first time this week. I’ve found that what that means is that I can still calculate but my general observational skills go out the window when it comes to fashioning an obvious endgame win for example. I may overlook that I can be up material without much effort. The other day I played a game and could have simply took a pawn for two moves, but was busy preventing an attack based on it – rook and 2 pawns ending, bizarre. I don’t miss the hard-stuff as much as I do the super obvious stuff.

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