Winter Springs Open

In Round 1 I managed to throw away a winning advantage, then go on to blunder a pawn before clawing my way back to the draw. I really liked his combo to win the e4 pawn. Like a true 1900 player, he rattled that combo off spending mere seconds on it. Just as strange, he spent lots of time on the endgame, asked for a draw with 2 minutes and 3 seconds on his clock whereas I had 19 minutes, but agreed to the draw after analyzing it for another 8 minutes.

Round 2 I just completely lost it, emotionally, must have been that energy drink and cookies at Subway, the only non-caff drink I saw there was Fanta (yuck). In Both my games I was the last one done, so I came to round 2 20 minutes late.

I had played Jeff only once before and won, actually. He plays ..e5 against my C3 Sicilian and I have nothing prepared. I used to play d4 and nearly played it, but decided to be a little more coy with Bc4. I couldn’t for the life of my figure out how to develop and spent incredible amounts of time. I was going to play Na3, but then played Be3 (taking the knights spot on e3). Well, this made it difficult, and an early a4 would have been a sensible move to allow both Ba2 and Na3.

Suddenly, I am deciding to create a solid position and go completely on the defensive, which I do well for a while, but really am playing a minute a move chess but even faster; it definitely affected the quality of my play. Luckily, I could tell that he was attacking like crap more or less, so I got lazy. He was well over an hour ahead of me on time but I caught up, had over 4 minutes to his 6 minutes at the end. But there was a move where he had 10 minutes left and got 5 free minutes because I had not punched my clock completely down on his analog. This sort of drove me nuts and I blitzed out horrible moves after that at the end, he even pointed out that I had plenty of time but I was so PO’d about using so much time that I practically had a fit to myself.

Anyhow, I dropped the pawn, noticed it after I moved, and his technique took over from there. His strength is probably mostly as a technical player. How I really felt about that was “Please do not tell me that he broke off that kingside attack to sneak one of my queenside pawns for the win.” He even spent a lot of time on the move before taking, and not because he didn’t see it, obviously. Nice guy though, well-mannered, even said he didn’t notice that his clock wasn’t ticking. In any event, after the game I wished that I had chosen the Open Sicilian against him, he plays Najdorf variation (not exactly fun, but at least it’s tactical for White).

The first critical moment came after 9..Na5. I was planning on playing 10.Bd5 but then saw ..NxBd5, 11.exN f5! I have b4 trapping his knight on a5, but that isn’t good enough since he can push …f4 hitting the Be3. Once I noticed all this I was of course like expletives, but didn’t actually think of any, that’s just how I felt. Actually, I was sort of like swimming around in my head, What did I just do? What the heck should I do now? Nothing looked promising, and that is why I tried to simply make my position look solid after that.

I should add that I had been planning on playing b3 to defend a4 pawn, but then decided that I was loathe to as all my pawns were on light-squares and the thing I was most worried about was his light-squared bishop in an ending, and he also said after the game that this was his plan, use the light-squared bishop in an ending (to try and pick off those pawns).

At the end, I did see he his Rh7 coming as soon as I had played Kh2, but it was already lost; he surprisingly took over a minute to play it. In fact, I knew that the Nf1 deal was probably losing but the game was pretty much lost anyhow and I was blitzing. I even noticed that he could trade all his pieces to let me have the g-pawn and his a-pawn still advances.

The one thing I realize about these 1900 level players is that they are there for the endgame, more or less. Weak club players are usually spraying pieces all over the place, so don’t see a lot of endgames like something you’d see out of a Silman book or lecture until you get to this level.

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9 thoughts on “Winter Springs Open

  1. Round 3, I played Black in a Max-Lange attack. Interesting game, and I was probably winning, but made two quick move blunders back to back at the 9 minute mark and lost the game. It was a a bye game, but it was rated. I was at the bottom of the pairings and a Class A player wanted to play a game. It was G/120 for some reason, per the TD, although I was only 20 minutes late, but in any case I was the odd man out. Yes, my poor-time management was in stark contrast to all of my opponents who seemed to know how to end a game with 5 minutes left on their clocks. Still, it would have been better to not hurry up since a blunder can mean an almost definite loss, and even 1 second on the clock is still life with the time-delay.

    Round 4, I can’t say this has ever happened to me before in this way, I figured I would play down but got the #1 seed rated 2199 (edit: he was really only 2099, goes to show how much I was concentrating), and I had no adrenaline, all I could think about was I wish I had a cup of coffee. Instead I had a big meal at subway and thought I might not even get paired since I was at the bottom. I wasn’t even very hungry, but now I see why a lot of top players avoid the food, it’s very simple.

    When you are sitting in front of a board, motionless, the #1 absolute thing you need is not sleep, not opening theory, more than anything else what you need is adrenaline to produce that fight-or-flight type of response.

    Anyhow, in the game, he had enough of a winning advantage by move 11, and by move 12 it was over. I came home and wanted to go straight to bed or have coffee, couldn’t even focus until the coffee kicked in. If I had not eaten, I probably also would have been alright with enough adrenaline, almost didn’t go, but felt I could use the walk to the restaurant, but should have stopped at 7-11 for coffee instead.

    The other thing was that I psyched myself out, sitting across from a Master player. In the game 11…Ne4 seemed perfectly natural, and against another Class A player I would have played it, and expected 12. f5 c5, 13.Nb3 but then I thought this guy is a Master so he might play 13. e6 instead, which I didn’t even analyze (It’s not good for White) because I had no adrenaline, and never got my “thinking cap” on in this game, so my concentration level was very low/short. Mind you, I never run into mental fatigue in the second day of these tournaments, it is always physical fatigue that is the bugaboo. Physical fatigue can lead to short-term mental fatigue however. I didn’t “want” to analyze, physically, at the board. I did want to, but without adrenaline it’s like the heart shuts off.

    The meal thing isn’t a big deal the first day of a tournament, it’s that last round of the second day where you have to “watch your @ss” so to speak. I mean, it’s important because you could be that Master one day and can’t afford to lose to the lower-rated A player. For me, who cares, I am another 1700 level player having some typical meltdown. I spent less than half an hour on this quick loss. Now that I’ve come home and had that cup of coffee, I could easily play another 6 hour game at my very highest level and it is 7:40 pm at night right now.

    Energy is not the same thing as adrenaline either, I forgot to take my vitamin and orange juice, rushing out the door with only a cup of coffee. I felt very short on energy before I even got there, but had a great game. I had plenty/adequate adrenaline though, and that is the difference.

    The first 3 rounds were satisfying games determined by ability, the fourth round was determined by ability but also by a performance issue. The keen reader of this blog should note that although I rarely don’t have clock management problems, that I never said that wasn’t part of chess ability. A blunder, and being able to “think fast” go hand in hand. When I played …Rd8??(loses a 2 point advantage) in my 3rd round game, I intuitively felt like …Qh3 was the right move but in that time couldn’t support it as well with analysis and only looked at White playing Rd1. In time-pressure, I did not generate all the candidate moves for my opponent, only one move. When I played ..f6?? on the next move, that lost another two points.

    If I could have moved faster earlier on, I would have. It’s simply part of my ability or lack thereof. If I had moved artificially quicker than I already artificially did, then I would have only lost even sooner. As it is I missed quite a bit of opportunities on my part, even a mate. But most of that time was spent on defense, not offense.

  2. I was out of the city, didn’t have much computer time. I will look in detail at your games. I hope you are not too upset with the result, in the autumn of 2009 I played up and only got 1 point out of 4 (2 draws), but after that I realized that I can play with these people.
    I advise you to have less respect for 1900 people, they are human too and make mistakes (quite a few as you can see in my games), the same about 2100-2200 guys, I am not saying that you can easily beat them, but you can make a draw on a good day.
    I wouldn’t play 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 against 2000+ guy, looks too risky if he/she will play something different from 3… Bc5.
    I think big meal is very bad. The amount of food should be very minimal, at least for 90/G, for longer format a bit more, still… Coffee, chocolate, vitamins – of course.

  3. RollingPawns, thanks for the encouragement!

    I wasn’t really disappointed, even though this is perhaps my worst result ever. The only thing I felt bad about in losing that last game was that the TD had this look of concern on his face when he paused at the board, like “Why did I match them together?” after seeing how badly I had blown it right away. So I felt bad that I hadn’t gotten a cup of coffee (usually this does not matter, but this was the fourth round). I was hoping that I could ease into a Ruy Lopez, but it was another Max-Lange attack, which surprised me a bit.

    I am starting to go over game #3, annotating it, because this is where I need to improve to avoid time-trouble. Game #3 was my favorite game, but I made back to blunders, spent 4 minutes on the first one and 2 minutes on the second one, but there were quite a few candidate moves to consider, and the position would remain sharp if I didn’t castle (which I didn’t), so that was not enough time to give analysis any justice; should have played 0-0 as a practical matter sheerly due to clock time, to avoid complications, not because it is first or even second best move perhaps.

    hehe. Yeah, I figured you mixed up the colors. Actually, I am going to study/analyze the Max-Lange to death now so that I can whip out a draw or win on demand. It’s only going to backfire on them because I am a concrete-style player. The nebulous strategy stuff of game #2 is what kills me on the clock, since I can’t analyze that as much concretely (beforehand! πŸ˜‰ ) I actually prefer this type of game as Black, but not when I am out of it.

    My opponent seemed fresh as a daisy (somewhat older guy), and had an exhuberant expression on his face (don’t you hate facing those guys in the last round?). He was the picture of concentration, never made a sound. We went over the game, and then I split soon after, but I think he kept looking at chess positions on his board, he wasn’t tired at all I could tell.

    You are right though, I should not play 3…Bc5 when I am tired like that. Somehow I never manage to think about how to slow it down successfully.

    Naturally, I was thinking to myself “Why couldn’t I have gotten this guy in the first round instead of in the last round?” I had 3 games as Black and 1 as White. The one game as White was my most botched opening, game 4 was simply a meltdown. If anything, I think I have sort of shown that I can do well and grab the advantage as Black, it’s these “other” factors that are more determinative of the result – time, energy, and most importantly how I analyze over the board, or more precisely how I don’t analyze when I start to get into time-pressure. This is why I am going to change it up this time and analyze at least one of these games in-depth, to get rid of some bad habits.

    Actually, the main way to play the Max-Lange is 3…Nf6, by playing 3..Bc5 first, and then him playing 4.c3 right away, we were already on the perimeter of the opening theory – the lines are different, but it’s still book.

  4. Game 1 – I like how you played in the opening, getting advantage with these hanging pawns, forcing him to give up 2 bishops and having very good position. Yeah, you had good chances to win with that “a” pawn until you lost it. Solid play overall.

    Game 2 – I would prefer 6. d4 rather than 6. h3 and 7. d3, he is behind in development. I don’t like giving up that light-colored bishop. I also don’t like exchange of the queens being pawn down and I am not sure about that plan with putting the rook on “h” line, looks artificial. You shouldn’t be worrying about losing 5 minutes on the clock having 3 hours for the game, but you had a few minutes left again … It looks like you were essentially less confident, maybe it started from the opening and then his attack.

  5. I was impatient on his clock. After all, he used virtually all of his 2 hours and that is the best he could come up with for an attack, and he used basically all of that time on the kingside attack just about. Basically like giving someone an hour and a half to find a checkmate against you and they can’t, you feel like they should lose just because they weren’t able to, they should be forfeited. lol. But no, they will just sit there and maybe it will get to you, and one quick move.

    I went over my round 3 game and found the winning shots over a real board, and found some others with Crafty. I felt a lot stronger for doing that and I would definitely recommend that. Computers are great for opening theory but otherwise make us lazy, and that is not the way they made Master in the past, they did it the old-fashioned way. It made me realize that I need to be more booked to save time, and also save more time for the winning shots, can’t spend a few minutes on a winning position but an hour and a half on forced defense, the win isn’t going to happen that way, need to save more time for attack. And actually, this exercise helped my OTB visualization/variation calculation for the attack. I think that’s the best way to do it, when you know there must be a shot and then find as much of it as you can on your own, even if you need to be told the first move, then go and find/visualize the rest. πŸ˜‰

  6. Game 3 – this opening I think is too sharp to play if you do not know at least first 10-12 moves with variations. I didn’t realize how much tactics there was until ran it through Fritz. Fritz considers his 9. Qh5 bad because of 9… Bg4 10. Qh4 h6 11. Bb5+ c6 12. Qg3 f6 13. f4 Nxd5 14. fxe5 Qa5 15. Bd2 Bb4 16. exd5 Bxd2 [-2.5].
    Then for a several moves you have advantage, but you don’t play decisively. The last but one possibility is 14… Nh4 15. Rf1 O-O 16. Rd1 Qb6 …
    I didn’t like 17…Rd8 because it allows Qc5 not letting you castle. If you would castle nothing like in the game would happen. Like in hockey and soccer if you don’t score your opponent scores on you. 19. Kf7 was decisive mistake, then the game is lost.

  7. That game was sharp. πŸ˜‰ My …Ne5 was forced, had to calculate a lot of his tactics – he even pointed out after the game the same ones that I had calculated accurately during it.

    The last one possibility, Fritz’ line is still too slow (winning, yes, but is only a 2 pawns up endgame).
    14…Nh4 15.Rf1 but now ..NxBc4 16.QxNc4 Nxg2+ – if 17.Ke2, then Qg5 since Nf3 is pinned, and eventually a Qg2+ will decide picking up the Nf3 and checkmate looms.
    If 17..Kf2, then BxNf3 and Qg5 gets in there attacking e3 and if the queen or knight comes back to defend e3, then …0-0-0 and then …g5 are an obvious winning attack.

    During the game, my plan was to work in …Nh4 for the longest time, but I was simply running out of time and had too many candidate moves to look at to give any depth to any of them. The best rule of thumb was “Which move gives my opponent the least attack/development?” That rule got me a great position, but as soon as I forgot about it and started thinking “Which move gives me the best attack?” I was done for, considering the clock situation, because it lead to oversights.

    There was virtually a combination on every move for a while there. πŸ™‚

    Too bad I spent 4 minutes on my …Rd8 and 2 minutes on my …f6. Those positions warranted much more time than that. Any one of those combos found could have lead to a quick easy game, which is what he got instead when I blundered.

    I finished the game with 1 second on my clock and it did the same thing, once I saw 5 seconds on my clock as I was moving (beyond the delay) and then only 1 second after I punched my clock. That is the fastest that I can move on my clock, apparently, don’t know how that works but one has to know their clock.

    After the game I pointed out that he missed a simple mating attack when I played …Rd7. He had the Qa8+,Qc6+,Qf6+ winning, but instead traded pieces on d7. For the amount of time he spent on that move I was rather amazed that he didn’t see it, but his technique after that was super-strong. Still, there is a reason why someone such as ChessTiger will criticize for not finding the mate and mainly because it saves on clock time and needing to play another accurate 15-20 moves.

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