Monday, August 17, 2009

What the hell happened?

The best laid plans sometimes goes astray. This was the case in preparing and playing at this year’s Continental Open. Of the six rounds, I got to play only 4 and lost ALL FOUR rounds.

The Good:

John, from Endgame clothing Tee-shirts shipped me a shirt for me to debut at the event. I liked the “label-less” design making it an extremely comfortable tee around the neck. I felt like it rivaled the magical powers of the fabled three wolf moon shirt which seems to be reaching cult-lke status. I think we should start similar stories with these fine shirts from endgame clothing. They definitely made me feel all Caro-Kann like. Which leads me to my next good point, I got to play the 4…Nd7 variation of the mainline Caro-Kann ( more on this later). Chess serves a good diversion from life’s other stresses and believe me, despite losing all four games, I needed this diversion this weekend in particular.

Plus, I got to distribute flyers for the Fundraising Chess event. I also got another donation over the weekend. Thanks to all who have contributed to this good cause.

The Bad:

Our youngest child of teenage angst, decided to pick THIS weekend to act up in a way that I can’t get into here. All I will say is that instead of round 3 on Saturday morning, my wife and I were talking to the police and our anniversary plans for Monday were put on hold due to a sudden requirement to bring said child to Juvenile court. Things had been building up for the past couple weeks which took my energy away from preparing for this event. Why didn’t I just withdraw? Chess is my meditation. Because our daughter acted up in such an extreme way, we both needed a diversion to regroup before court on Monday. My wife, who is not all that found of these events, chose to come with me to decompress as we had the older siblings ( all in their 20’s) keeping watch on the troublemaker. Otherwise, there might have been blood shed had we not sought respite.

The Ugly:

I had a bye for the first round because of work schedules so I went into round 2 not so fresh. I was paired with some Asian kid fresh from soccer camp and god knows who which GM-class chess coach was funded by the parents for this event. He played the advanced against my CK. I actually had a strong center. All it took was one move and letting down my guard of checks and balances. Instead of double rooks on the c-file, I doubled on the f-file because that choice initially looked cool. As soon as I lifted my finger I saw the combination which ended up dropping a piece.

Round 3 I had to frantically contact Bill Goichberg for an emergency Bye. I made it to round 4 in a cloud, I had white, 1.d4 d5 2. c4 e5 I was already out of MY book and never prepared for this… yes … I know… it can be a fairly common response to QGD, but I never had encountered it before this time and had been playing d4 for quite some time. Instinct had me taking e5 3. dxe5 d4 4. e3 Bb4+ 5 Bd2 dxe3 6. Bxb4 exf2+ 7. Ke2 fxg1=N+ 8. Ke1 Qh4+ 9 g3 Qe4+ white resigns. He showed me several typical lines of this particularly sharp game. The problem was that I was dulled by all the external events. Thank you for the brutal lesson.
It gets worse. Round 5, what do I play against 1.b3? I try to channel my hypermodern ancestors, Alekhine, Reti and Tartakower. I decide to play to control the center, I come out of the opening with 2 pawns and it looks like I finally have a great game. But no, my mind was still clouded and I remove my defender of king side, the knight on f6. That’s all it took. He plants a queen on g3 and with the impending doom from his long range archer on b2 snatched defeat from jaws of victory.

Lastly, round 6, I get to play 4…Nd7 against some other poor soul having a bad tournament. He plays the more passive 5 Nf3 Ngf6 6.Ng3. I was prepared for the Ng5 and Bc4 lines which were sharper. This passive line allows me to set up normally like the mainline and I even got the c5 move in and had time to maneuver into position. But once I got all my players in place, I attempted to get complicated and started a dubious attack on his King side which lead to dropping a knight and the point.

I’m not freaking too badly over the HUGE LOSS OF RATINGS. The beauty of chess is that there’s always next time. Heck, if my rating drops enough maybe I can be a menace at the next event by playing in a lower section! I needed to take my mind off the other issues for a brief period of time, this was just what the doctor ordered. I think my rating will recover sooner than my child not being grounded.
I will return to the Zurich series in the next post covering Petrosian.


es_trick said...

My condolences on the acting out. Both of my kids (19 & 21) have had minor scrapes with the law. Fortunately they both got into the 'Diversion Program' which allowed them to make amends and avoid having a record. Hope things settle down for her and you.

I've found that even the smallest of distractions can seriously impair my ability to play at my best. Lost 4 of my last 5 rounds at the US Open a week ago, partly due to "minor distractions." I'd say your distraction was a tad bit greater than "minor."

Great to see you keeping it all in perspective.


John aka Endgame Clothing said...

Sorry to hear about the turmoil at home. Both of my kids are pretty young...but I can see the teenage years on the horizon...and I am scared.

Anyway, glad you like the shirt. Sorry it wasn't enough to save the games...always next time!!

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the chess.

Joshua said...

Hey George, very sorry to hear how the event went down. I've checked out of tournament chess for quite some time to avoid similar experiences... life and chess do not always coexist!

As far as the Albin Countergambit is concerned, it's really popular in certain scholastic circles, largely for the trap you fell into: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 d4 3.e3? which doesn't necessarily lose by force, but certainly makes white somewhat worst in all variations. Check out the famous game Topalov-Morozevich in this line. I think that one of the best ways to diffuse it is:

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3. dxe5 d4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.a3

This introduces the threat of b4, enabling Bb2 possibilities and making it hard for black to stabilize in the center long enough to launch any kind of kingside attack. Follow up with moves like Nbd2 and g3, Bg2, and you get a pretty good game, probably some advantage, even if you have to surrender the gambit pawn.

Better luck next time around, eh? It never stops being rough as a chess player...


chesstiger said...

I hope all goes not that bad for the youngster of your familly in court.

It must have been hard to stay with your mind on the chess game at hand. I hope that next tournament can be played in a more relaxed state of mind.

Globular said...

1. e4

1... c5

(Chess) problems solved.


My opening experiment, the Von Hening - Shara gambit as black (1 .d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. cxd5 cxd4!?) worked so well that I got a fabulous position quickly in the final round. So good, that my quick and complete collapse was a forgone conclusion. At least I got to drink (and hand out) a few beers!

Hopefully I helped a bit by inducing a chuckle or two during the weekend.

Next time.


Liquid Egg Product said...

Wow, it's sad to read about how things went...but yes, on the chess end, setbacks are temporary.

Hope you get everything sorted out, and congrats on hitting your donation goal!

LinuxGuy said...

George, here is a Nd7 CK going down with nary a tactical shot fired.

My bit of advice would be to improve your blunder-check process. I "liked" your BxB on b4, too (which loses), and also your e3 move (which is basically bad because of his ...Bb4+), but I would expect to catch these things during my blunder-check process (since they should be simple enough things to catch, in any case, once there is the desire to look for them).

In your concluding moves, you spot the traps, which suggests to me that it was more of a discipline issue with the blundercheck during BxB. Had nothing to do with ability or talent, since you showed that you possessed these things once the blunder had already been made.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Great to see such an honest post, things like this make it seem OK for me to have sucked so bad at the World Open.

Anonymous said...

Whats the update on court?

Will we ever know? Inquiring minds want to know.

Polly said...

Wow! Sorry to hear about your tough weekend. Nobody said raising kids would be easy. I never had the guts to try. I can't put into words anything that you probably haven't heard already. Hang in there.

harvey said...

Dude... you are my hero. At least you stuck it out to round 6. I left after 5 rounds and only one point...