A Tribute to Martin Luther King tournament did not turn out well for me, went 1 for 5 in the Open section. The first two rounds were G/90, d/5, the last three were G/90, Inc 30.
Blundered in time-pressure, I had 7 seconds left to his 6 seconds. He blundered his rook blitzing, but I didn’t see it. I blundered a pawn and he didn’t see it either, but I blundered last.
Daoud had a terrible tournament and didn’t even look at the board during my turn, and left the board on most moves.
Even though I got six hours of (restless) sleep before the tournament, I felt that I lost my usual focus at the board before this game and for the rest of the tournament. The 2-3 hr wait in between rounds took a toll on me (I don’t know how Brian Wall does it at his age). When I played Qe7 toward the end, I knew it was bad, but this was the first move where time-pressure really affected me in this game.
I could play f6 or fxg6, eenie meanie minie moe, and chose the wrong one. I was planning to sac on d5 (threat) so I figured he’d defend with …Ra7, and then I’d play Rxg4 but he beat me to the punch with …g3, and I was losing just like that, and then missed a couple of checks. It was right when I decided to speed up my play that I played this f6 line.
With the combined wait of over 2.5 hrs before this game, and only 5 hrs of restless sleep the night before, I started feeling really weird before this game, my body movements were slow and responded a bit sluggishly, like heavy arms. I saw the drawing move ….Reb8, and that was my other choice, but it was last round and only keeping queens on could preserve a winning chance. I missed his combo. After the game, my brain felt strange like it was more full of fluid or something. By the time I got home I felt much better. I’ve heard of GMs (John Nunn, for example) not want tournaments to be scheduled too closely together so that they can recover. I guess I didn’t realize I hadn’t played two weekend tournaments back to back before. I was hesistant to play because I felt my brain was over-chessed (I really felt that playing blitz on Tuesday), and indeed it was; I felt that this might happen.
I reacted badly to time-pressure for the rest of the tournament after my round 1 debacle (Rhett’s dad says he practices playing G/30 seconds chess where they premove everything. Rhett also played in the blitz tournament in the North American Open back in November. There are no classical professional tournaments with a G/90 5 second delay, so it feels very fake/phony to me.
Actually, the night before the first day of the tournament I studied English Opening and a lot of Catalans, which helped me to win in round two. The interesting thing is that if you don’t count Rhett’s blunder with 6 seconds on his clock in a time-scramble, the only blunder that any of my five opponents made was the one in round two which prompted my opponent’s immediate resignation. Think of that, five rounds with only one blunder coming from opponents! Because of my physical state, and the conditions, I’d say the tournament wasn’t really worth it to me, but it did give me some experience playing in an Open section of a multi-section tournament; something I don’t remember doing in the last twenty years! I’ve played in the top quad back in CA many times, but that is only for one day and has a consistent, sane, and desireable time control unlike the tournaments here in Colorado (Chess Palace is 30/90, G/30, d/5). If a TD is reading this and thinking “then I don’t have to play” my answer is “No, we do have to play at tournaments with undesireable time-controls, like G/90 d/5, to be able to face many specific opponents.”
My new, hemorrhaged and over-chessed, rating is 1813.
The big difference between playing one round on a weeknight (assuming you don’t go in tired after a long day at work) is that a tournament really tests your stamina. When I finished round 4, I had 2 hrs. and 10 minutes to wait until the next round even after finishing my subway sandwich, so then I went for coffee, and grabbed some yoghurt at Whole Foods, but really if the rounds were half an hour apart I wouldn’t do any of that. At the Chess Palace, I could get by on a large soda because the rounds were closer together, three of them, and got to sleep alright after I got home and took a walk. Here on day one, I drank a coffee, and a large cappacino between rounds, and went home wired, and then more out of it on day two.
When I have a lot of energy, the time between rounds serves to calm my nerves, but when I am already tired I have no nervous energy anyway, then the gap between rounds seriously wears on me. In round 5, when I played …Re6?? I was looking at my own drawing sacs on his king. …Reb8 was correct, and if he trades rooks I figured I could draw, but I was more concerned about him playing …Rb1, and then after RxR, RxRb7…a6, I wasn’t sure whether I could defend my a-pawn still, or whether after ….Nd7, …c5 which it turns out was possible, I wasn’t sure what would happen after e4 with my knight on d7.
When you are tired in a last round in particular, it feels tough to defend. I came home and played two blitz games online, won both, but it was me not knowing how to defend a pawn in a new position, losing it and having a lost position, then setting a trap which my opponent promptly fell into and couldn’t figure the way out of – this is totally not how high-rated classical tournament chess typically works because they see your traps or find the exits.
What I now know about being over-chessed is that it affects one’s endurance, and in my case there is a physical feeling in my brain too. I feel sharp right now, could go online and win blitz games where a shorter attention span (it’s a short game) prevails, but if I were to sit at a board for over an hour I would begin to feel it. Actually, I blitz my first moves more in this state because it’s tougher to concentrate on subtleties. Conversely, I would likely have been better off getting less sleep, and napping between rounds, than going into the tournament over-chessed.
I don’t know if re-adjusting to the altitude in CO (mile-high) played any significant role, but what I do know is that I have a more consistent playing experience in CA, when I play in one day quads and drive up there alone, mentally composed and gathering my thoughts. My roommate Alex, who normally wakes up at 7am (I wake up at 11 am normally) was very fresh and went 4 wins 1 loss in the U1800 section after losing his first game by making a bad sac which would have been winning had he not got checkmated first. Also, the Saturday quads in CA start at 11:30 am, which also makes it easier on me to go in fresh, being a late riser.