Pikes Peak Open 2011

Day 1.

Round 1, I won my first round in nice fashion as White.

This is what all of that chess study and preparedness buys you (or me, anyway), a nice bright-eyed and bushy-tail win as White in Round 1. Incidentally, this guy went on to get 3 or 3 1/2, as did the unrated player that I lost to in Round 3. Even my Round 2 loss opponent, I saw him winning his final game and I think that he also resulted well.

At the end of this game, I pointed out to Dalton that I was planning on continuing 30..Rf8, 31.Qg5 Ng7, 32.Qh4 but now that I look at it fresh, 32.Qh5 is obviously even better, after 32..h6, 33.Qh6 should mate on h7.

Round 2

This game should have been a draw, but then my lack of sleep kicked in late in the game, and I lost a king and pawn ending with even material. (note: It’s hard to look at my pawn dropping blunder now – This was my first brain-cramp brought on by fatigue, as I noticed that I had played the wrong variation’s move after I had moved. I had been looking at a few different variations that he might play). He went from playing fast to taking like 7 times as much time as he was earlier in the game, and this broke my concentration as I’ve never played him before and thought he might be contemplating a draw offer. I shouldn’t have played ..h5. Should have played my active plan earlier in this rook ending, but I woke up too late in this game. ..h5 was like needlessly feeding him two tempos. I played it tongue-in-cheek, but it is chess laziness.

I offered a draw in a boringly even position. He spent 15 thinking about it, so that I figured he would agree. Then he made a move, attacking a pawn, which I had previously seen. I thought he had better moves so that once he played such a simple that I had easily planned on parrying, I ignored that it was attacking a pawn. This is why never offer a draw or think that a game is “a draw” because it will cause you to lose concentration if the position is insipidly dull and played just the same.

Round 3, I literally did not take a break between rounds 2 and 3. The people at that board shooed me away as soon as I had finished my game, and I elected not to take a 15 minute break since what is 15 minutes? Need more than that. All I had to eat between my three rounds was a cup of coffee and a scone.

Here is the Round 3 game, how it should have gone.

I was going to play 18.Qh3, but didn’t like the pawn-roller that he was getting after 18..e6xd5. So I played 18.BxNd4?? Which I told myself that I wasn’t going to do, and as soon as I put my hand on the piece, before I even moved it, I realized that I was dropping a piece. But that also goes to show how I need to add a couple more ingredients, and Qh3 works just fine. I played Qf3 with the intention of Qh3 on the next move.

If you look at that continuation, you will see that Black can’t play 21…RxB because of 22.Qe6+, picking up the exchange. So 21..Kh8, 22.Be4 h6 and White is up a pawn.

Even if I had played the measly 19.Bd3, it would have been equal after 19..Nc6.

Also, the first variation that I had looked at after 18.Qh3 was 18..Nxc2, which I had decided to allow before I first decided on playing 17.Qf3. This variation continues 19.Qxe6+ Kh8, 20.Rac1 NxBe3, 21.QxB. I was not noticing that the Qe6 defends the bishop e3.

So these were two separate lines that I had not analyzed deeply enough, yet were rather simple.

I also had had the feeling that 16.Nxd5 was probably winning for some reason, but didn’t want to analyze it because “Oh, it hurt’s my head too much right now!”, that was my excuse.

This combination is not above my level, but I didn’t find it for two reasons. 1) “My head hurts because it is tired and I don’t want to look that far” during a huge combo, and 2) I am not conditioned to playing in non-optimal state. IOW, I nap before a game, and am all fresh usually, but playing chess all day when you have a sort of “jet-lag” from staying up too late and waking up too early, that is a discipline. It’s a non “chess” skill and yet it is very much a chess skill at the same time. A tournament is a performance, and you have to be able to perform with no break, etc.

The Stoyko exercise did help me during the first round, and during a move in the second round which I once again decided not to play, but I simply dropped a pawn en-prise due to fatigue, and then let him get a passer, figuring I’d stop it, instead of bothering to think of my own plan, but then it was too late. That is another indication of fatigue.

The Stoyko stuff works, but you either have to not be fatigued, or learn how force yourself to think that deep when you are tired from too much chess in a row, which is easier said than done, at least until you’ve conditioned yourself to it. When I was tired, everything, variation/ideas began to run together in my head at the same time. I wasn’t looking at distinct lines anymore. So much so that I can’t believe I thought I was lost when I wasn’t. I actually thought Qh3 was losing, I was so tired, but White easily sidesteps all of Black’s threats.

Oh, at one point I forgot how to keep notation, didn’t know whether to say “Ng5” or “KNg5”, I had to think about it before I remembered it’s just an “N”. I had all the time in the world on my clock, but my opponent kept giving me this look “See, I’ve tricked you!”, and said “I guess I have to play ..d5” before that. He’s son of a chess master, and it was his second rated game, but that is even more annoying, concentration-breaking, when tired. He kept having to look at my scoresheet because he wasn’t writing down all of our plies as we played them and I had to tell him he should do it because it’s Fide rules and so he wouldn’t have to keep asking. He asked what the last move was it seemed like 10 times.

Day 2

Day 2 brought on some mistakes caused by fatigue in probably most players games, including yours truly. I dropped 12 rating points in total. It was one Open section, I was seeded #11, but never played anyone above my rating. Some people played mostly in the high part of the tournament; Anthea, for example got 3.5 tournament points, but went from 1781 to 1821. So day one was the “set-up” day for day 2, as is typically the case. I went from 1798 to 1786

I probably could have gotten the TD to grant me a half-point bye instead of playing in Round 3, but I wanted to play and thought that I would be okay as White against an unrated player. It wasn’t until we got into the complications that I realized that I wasn’t up to it, particularly as the complications to win that pawn were around 7 moves long. A lot of people, particularly older players take one or more strategic byes throughout the tournament. Back in CA, round-robin tournaments, it wasn’t a big deal if I lost a game from fatigue, because I was already playing in an upper section, getting experience and not really losing many rating points for it.

Round 4

Round 5


12 thoughts on “Pikes Peak Open 2011

  1. I hope you get some rest and don’t make such mistakes as Bxd4 anymore. Yes, you were good in that hypothetical line. Frankly, I would probably just play Qd8, though White doesn’t have any advantage after that, but I don’t think I would play Bxd4, at least at this early stage of the game. It’s easy to say that, because I never played 3 games per day, what is the time control?

  2. RollingPawns, thanks for stopping by. πŸ™‚

    Time control on day 1 was 40/90, SD/1.
    Time control on day 2 was 40/2, SD/2.

    Yes, I was too mentally thrashed to play well. Dropping the pawn in game #2 because I wasn’t paying attention after his long thinks, and took him too lightly cost me having to play that long game, which cost me the next game.

    The worst part is not the time control, it’s not getting a break between rounds, that is what is to great about long time-controls, plenty of time to hang out with your buddies between rounds and just relax and socialize.

    Day 2, I hardly felt like I played chess in comparison to day 1. Played some blitz against Alex afterward and had fun driving through town between rounds. I won my last two games, rounds 4 and 5, so finished with 3/5, which isn’t a good result and I lost not sure how many rating points, but it was a good chessplaying experience. I like playing at the Manitou Springs City Hall.

    I will post all of the games. I had lots of energy on both days even with little sleep on both days, it was only affecting me mentally on day 1, not physically.

  3. Game 1 – his Nh4 was a mistake, there are lines where you even give up “h” and “g” pawns for the bishop, but of course it was better to win the bishop without it. πŸ™‚

    Game 2 – you partly realize it yourself – do not relax if you think it’s a draw, but the thing is the position after 26. Rxd5 wasn’t completely equal or dull, he has a 0.5 advantage. Then I don’t know if you can save that rook ending.

  4. RollingPawns, you are right, I should have taken Game 2 more seriously in that position, since I had already allowed him to give me doubled pawns. He was taking his time, but I wanted to blitz the ending out; I guess I got used to doing that from all the G/90 endings. I could have played a better ending with a couple minutes on my clock, but he was taking copious amounts of time on each move. He spent over an hour on that ending. Of course, you don’t know this in advance, if you don’t know your opponent’s tendencies.

  5. I only played 30/90, SD/1 – 2 games per day, so one more game like that ….
    It is not a bad idea to take a bye in the 3rd round in this case, especially if you already lost a game, so your chances for a prize are not very high. I remember how different it was after that quick win in Canadian Open, how much more energy I had for the next day. That’s why GMs make short draws, I read in Mark’s blog about that, they are professionals, so they know.

  6. Right, GMs are stronger at the endgame, so that they would not make the blunder I made and only be wearing themselves out for such an endgame in a 3-round day.

    I naively thought “Well, I’ll just have to win the remaining three now.” rather than take a realistic look and say “I just blundered an endgame to someone who plays the Colle and is rated below 1750, my conditioning must be off.”

    There is a post about sleep on Nigel Davies blog, where he is paraphrasing an author on the subject (Jim Horne). The one idea that I would agree with is not creativity so much, since that is not specifically needed (great play is creative, creative is not necessarily great play, IMHO. So it’s not directly about creativity, except for combinations, and that is mostly about either you know it or you don’t, plus taking a position as many approximations deep as is necessary to solve a position), but I would agree with this sentiment “..behaviors such as making rational judgments about risk (are affected)”. When one is mentally tired, it is natural to want to become risk-averse. Look at cats when they sleep, the first thing they usually do is look for a safe place to sleep unless they are “on the lookout”.

    Yes, well, Mark would probably know. Surprisingly, I could feel that mental fatigue was affecting my Round 4 game. Round 5, okay I drank 3 cups of coffee (which hardly felt like I drank any – chess seems to suck the coffee right out of my brain, and I consider it a requirement for a multi-round/day tournament, even when there is no compelling need/desire to drink it other than to help avoid a headache from too much chess). But still, I didn’t have enough creativity to play/find all of the tactics right in that round 5 game. My round 4 opponent seemed mentally tired, and round 5 opponent didn’t because he moved so fast (he took around 20 minutes for the game), but even he seemed to be worn down a bit by the endgame, which caused his loss, not my “great play” so much.

    Yes, if I had taken a bye, not only would I not have lost a game in round 3, but I would have been more fresher for the stronger opponents I would have faced on day 2.

    Some people take too many byes, and even though the rating system adversely affects an older player like myself who plays all of the rounds, the people with the byes I know over the long haul never learn to build that tournament stamina which would be required should they every actually expect to win a tournament section prize-fund. In your case, RollingPawns, I think you are correct to take a third round bye if round 2 is lost, since you would be doing well to stick with the two game a day stamina for now, and not risk playing a third game – you already see what happens to me. πŸ˜‰

    I should have had better sleep patterns, but that happens sometimes, and even much stronger players than I must face this situation from time to time, having learned how to play through it.

    One thing I learned from my Round 3 loss that I used in Round 5 is to not fear something as small as losing a pawn in an unclear position. For one thing, none of my opponents were rated higher than I was, but either way, it’s better to lose a pawn and still have plenty of play and dynamic chances than it is to force the issue and drop a piece or something worse just to hold on to what is currently there in a position. One has to let it go and move on in chess.

    So in my round 5 game, by the time I did open up the position I no longer cared if it was for a win, draw, or loss, it really did not matter to me. What mattered was moving on in the position. Probably the fact that I lost by dropping a pawn in Round 2 is what me caused me to over-worry about losing a pawn in a middlegame during Round 3. This is how losing streaks happen(!)

    I looked at my round 2 game again, and I can say that my opponent did deserve that win because I don’t have experience in double-rook endings. Online, it is easy to get people to trade. Even if I had not dropped a pawn, my pawn structure in a double-rook ending was probably more than a half-pawn advantage at that time control.

    The truly regrettable loss was Round 3, where I should have been winning a pawn in dashing style. There was a silver lining to that game, however. Since he was unrated and took over as being above my rating for his first tournament victory (he had 2 losses and two draws in this his first rated tournament), it was the same as losing to a 1850 player, lost 9 points. If he had been rated 1500, I would have lost another 10 rating points.

    When it comes to chess ratings, it’s not whether you win, lose, or even how you play the game. It comes down to whether or not the person you lose to has a low-rating. Anthea went from 1781 to 1821 and I have a perfect record of 4-0 against the two higher rateds she beat. She also beat someone under 1400. Oh, and she drew a 1900 player than I had drawn in my only meeting (and I should have played for the win). I’m not trying to sound jealous, I’m saying a rating can come down to, no does come down to, who you play. So basically, I would conclude that she showed more endurance than me and did not fold, mentally, the way I did. I was up studying tactics and openings the night before until 3am, so yeah, that is not what one would call resting up before a tournament.

    Wow, that 1900 player that I had drawn once? He went 2 wins, 2 draws, a bye and his rating went from 1907 to 1912. Five whole rating points for playing against 3 players whose average rating was just above 1800, except for one provisional player rated just below 1600!

    All of this goes to show that, I don’t care how smart you think you are, talented, or skilled, if you aren’t playing more higher rated players than lower-rated players, you may as well not even bother to look at your rating, it would be too futile or depressing to.

    I’ve figured this out. In an Open tournament, you want to go at least 1.5/3 on the first day, preferably 2.5/3. 1 out of 3 on the first day, for someone around 1800 is the chessic equivalent of blowing one’s brains out. Kidding, just a little dark-humor there. The problem I have is that I am in the top 20% rating-wise, in an Open tournament. I think that a chess rating is like money. Once you are in top 20%, economically, it’s more about protecting what you’ve already got, your investment. Poor people don’t have bodyguards, don’t buy all the insurance they need, don’t have an investment portfolio, etc.

  7. I played yesterday, lost to an expert. In the opening sacrificed a pawn trying to get out of trouble (in which I wasn’t), it was a bad idea.
    As a result I lost a queen for a rook and a bishop. Made it a game and even had a chance for a draw in the end, but didn’t see his blunder and then blundered myself. Feel awful. Will try to post today.

  8. I know the feeling of not being interested after a loss. At least you weren’t blundering a pawn, but rather choosing to sacrifice it.

    Queen for rook and bishop, sounds like you missed a tactic in a complex position. Then missed a tactic against him, and then one for him.

    It seems as though you are mixing it up more, tactically, lately, instead of just the plain solid style.

    I studied some tactics again this morning (really combinations). I still think that’s the way to go, since the only continuations to analyze that are long, really, are combinations. Some long continuations do not start out tactically (not in a book such as this), but end up with a piece placed in a winning position. Chess is all about spotting the tactic, and also calculating a long forcing continuation with any of it’s branches, IMHO.

    The way to study tactics is before one goes to bed. If studied earlier in the day, it makes me want to take a long nap. I think that it’s because it changes the way the brain perceives a position; the brain re-organizes itself.

    Tomorrow I will try my best to win as Black and get my 1800 rating back, or at least draw.

  9. I’ve completed 660 combinations from the CC book so far. Finished ‘Discovery’ and am back into ‘Diversion’ again, solving the ones which I hadn’t before. I make a lot of mistakes, so this is great practice. It’s almost like a typing wpm speed test, going for speed and accuracy, but never trying to be perfect else it would be too slow.

  10. Tactics Tactics Tactics!

    I can’t wait until I am the level that you and Rolling Pawns are at. Then I can take a bit more part in your conversations. But then you guys will be even better-a vicious circle! πŸ™‚

    I think I figured out one important thing (for me anyway) regarding tactics and calculation.

    Basically I just have to repeat the mantra from the “Searching for Bobby Fischer” movie: “Don’t move until you see it.”

    I have noticed that when I am working on tactics and am unsure of what to do, if I just sort of scan the board for awhile it often pops out at me (or at the least the germ of an idea). Then I can calculate it to make sure.

    So if I am unsure in a game situation, once I have looked at the position and still don’t know, maybe I should just a few minutes and scan the board and see what comes out. But I have to scan with no agenda. (not looking to justify my original move choice or anything like that) Just look at the board with new and open eyes.

    So basically I need to sit on my hands when playing and don’t move until I see it. (of course time trouble would affect this strategy). πŸ™‚

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