We both missed a key move more many moves, me with …Bd5, and her with …Nc4, although the fault is mainly mine. I luckily swindled a pawn, which I saw far out but counted tempos wrong and thought I would get to that position one move sooner. Technically, the ending should have been a draw, but I had to see this neat plan where I don’t move my g-pawn, she plays her rook behind my c-pawn, and then my rook goes to g5 and king runs to h5. Not a plan one likely finds in a simul where one’s game is the next to last one done. I resigned, and the board next to me resigned right after that. I had missed, at first, that she could queen with check in the pawn race.
In the opening, when WGM Katerina reached to play the d3 pawn, then changed her mind to play Ng5 (two knights), my instant reaction was that she must know the Bf1 line in the Ulvestad variation, which is exactly what she played – it’s the #1 line. If you think Black has no chance in this opening, here is a minature I just played.
I won all three games against this opponent, getting my blitz rating there over 1700, as he kept playing a bad KG line, as well.
As for the tournament itself, the time-controls for all five rounds were G/90, d/5.
I did a good job of throwing away a winning position. I missed his …Qd8 move when I sacked my d-pawn, but literally saw this reply before I pressed my clock.
I eventually dropped my bishop with one second on my clock. When I went up a pawn, I considered offering a draw, as I was in a bad way physically. I play on mostly because in chess, I feel there is no room for excuses, because no one will give you a break after the fact, they will only look at your moves and that is it.
I saw that I could win her d-pawn early in the game, but then saw a ghost as I saw deeper than was necessary, yet not deep enough, worried at the end of the line I might drop my bishop, but then she drops her Bb2 (if I had looked one move further), and after all this Houdini doesn’t care whether I win the pawn or not. Luckily, I decided to focus on the center, and figured she will hopefully neglect it, which she did.
The line I was looking at goes something like (blindfolding it) 12…Nc6xd4, 13.Qxd4 Bxd7, 14.Re1 Bg4, 15.Nd5 Nh5 (Houdini says …Nd7 here), 16.QxBg4 BxBb2, and Black is slightly better. I missed this last ply (only thinking the …Bg4 is dropping) , probably because when I look at so many lines on a single move, I have a hard time keeping the outcomes of the lines straight when not mentally fresh.
LM Brian Wall offered a draw, neither of us seeing at that moment that I had a winning Qe2 or Qe1 move (he saw it after he offered the draw). I played on not so much because I didn’t want to accept his draw offer, but again because I feel no one will give my slack for any excuse afterward, so I force myself to play on (this time, I was fine physically). I missed the tactic, made a few more crappy moves, and luckily he accepted my draw offer. He mostly accepted my draw offer because he had determined before the game, unbeknownest to myself, that he had only needed a draw in this game to win the tournament, which was fine by me anyway in that sense, as he was slightly better in the final position.
I was lucky that she decided to play tactically, in what may have otherwise been a boring positional opening where a draw is likely. I was 24 minutes late to this game (I was half an hour late to another game as well). This time I had correctly determined that it is better to be in your best physical shape than to give a sh*t about what the clock says.
There was no third place prize. I won nothing and perhaps deserved to win nothing (but a lot of other prizes were handed out).
To this day, I’ve never had my name on any kind of plaque or trophy or anything in that sense as it relates to chess. Twice I won a trophy for winning the annual tournament at DeVry, but such a thing was never actually produced, only promised. I’ve owned and read hundreds of chess books, played in hundreds of tournaments, but not so much as a sticker or a certificate saying that I did this or that in chess, only crosstables and the occasional monetary prize to remember me by. Perhaps that seems fitting for a chessplayer, but I know how Kasparov, or Kramnik, or Alekhine (from Tzar Nicholas no less!) felt when they actually got a physical award. Not a scholastic award either, people know those handed out like candy (even if I never got one).
Rating points are very ephemeral. It’s odd that chess has this big tradition of money, which strikes me more as gambling, unless it were some great big prize in some great big tournament where someone could live off the earning for a while. Yet, in “adult” chess there is no honor unless you can say you were the State Champ, or something like that, and even then you probably don’t get any physical award for that (other than money). Actually, you get your picture on the cover the state chess informant, if you win the state championship for that year, so that at least is pretty cool.
Since there is no Expert certificate in chess, the most that any “average” mortal can hope for in chess is to one day win a Master certificate, which is something 98% of people who get one either earn as a teenager or never do (as in die trying). lol. The odd thing about all this is that chess, other than for the fun of it, “should” be played for honor and not for money (again, it’s just gambling if no one is living off prizes in any meaningful way). You can play in, and win a lot of chess tournaments, and end up with the same rating you started with, but people will act like nothing happened because your rating didn’t go up over that same period of years or decades.