Now before you get all hot and bothered about the title of my blog, know that this story is about the abuse I took from not one, but multiple children (that weren't even my own ). I am talking about all the amazing youth players I played at the 2012 Chicago Open! If you still have your "undies in a bunch" after reading my story about these little monsters, then that's a you problem - not a me problem... and there's nothing I can do for you .
It took me a little while to finish this blog, but since I wasn't "reporting" on the news or results of the tournamnet, I figured you would all want me to take my time and annotate my games, etc. Simply put, the Chicago Open was not my best tournament. But it wasn't my worst either. After taking roughly a week to reflect and review my games, I've come to two startling realizations about my overall experience in the Windy City (one good, and one really, really scary ...)
First, the good news: I didn't play that badly! Even though my score wasn't what I wanted (5.5 out of 9), and I got there by playing lower rated players most of the event -- if you take away a couple really bad (really horrible ) decisions I made, the truth is I didn't perform as poorly as I first thought.
At my best moments, I executed some really nice ideas! I also kept my composure despite a rough start, and finished with a couple really nice wins. So, was I a tad frustrated with myself? Yes, I was. But am I depressed about my play or the general direction of my chess? No.
So what's the bad/scary news? Part of the reason for my poor score was not my play, but rather the incredible play from all the kids I faced! These kids are scary good in fact!! Before you accuse me of making excuses, I know, I know: The thing that makes chess different than any other sport is that you and you alone are always to blame for a loss.
There are no teammates to point fingers at and noone to "pass the buck" to in any respectable way. I haven't forgotten that, I know I need to look in the mirror whenever anything goes wrong (blah, blah), and I also know that in my best form I would still have a lot to "teach" these youngsters ...
But man, the kids I played were awesome! They played at such a high level and I came away extremely impressed... and a little frightened. My results before the games:
- Loss: NM (2201 FIDE) Justus Williams 13 years old, Round 3
- Win: NM (2200 USCF) Sarah Chiang 15 years old, Round 4
- Loss: NM (2305 USCF) Sean Vibbert 15 years old, Round 6
- Win: FM (2100 USCF) Awonder Liang (pictured above) 9 years old, Round 7
- Win: FM (2394 USCF) Jeffrey Xiong 11 years old, Round 9
Let's go through my games one at a time against these top juniors starting with my first game/loss (against Justus Williams). I made two terrible decisions this tournament, and the first was on move #52 against the young New Yorker...
Don't get me wrong, Justus played fantastic throughout the majority of this game and deserved to win. He outplayed me in my "wheel-house opening" (the English Attack) and and showed no fear! But once he let me back into the game with his blunder on move 47, why didn't I just take the draw? I wanted to win when I had no right to! I showed no discipline, and played into a forced loss... You can't let your emotions get the best of you ! Great work Danny !!
My game against the "Talented Texan" (Sarah Chiang) helped me to bounce back a little, because even though I was worse most the game, I held on, defended as black, and eventually seized my moment to win. I predict that Sarah will be one of the top female players in this country very soon:
Moving on, after struggling to get a draw against a much weaker player in round 5 (shows you how well I was playing ) I made my "worst chess decision" of the year to date... You can see my comments to the game against the young Sean Vibbert, but know that I am not taking anything away from him, it was simply a bad game all around for me, starting with an unnecessarily bad opening choice:
Unfortunately, it was out of the frying pan and into the fire! After that loss, I didn't want anything to do with these kids for the rest of the event -- so naturally I got paired with the "Super Talent", 8 year old (just turned 9 apparently???) Awonder Liang.
Is it wrong that it took me 6 hours and ALL OF MY EFFORT to beat this 3 and 1/2 foot munchkin??? Man, I was pumped after finding a way to pull out that game, and completely frightened as to the potential of this "wonder" kid...
After finding my form and playing really well in round 8, I was paired with arguably the most talented and scariest of any kid in the field (maybe outside of Chess.com's own Kayden Troff, who I thankfully missed on his way to earning an IM-Norm). Young Jeffrey had already taken down my Chess.com Partner (IM David Pruess) earlier in the tournament, so I was not taking this one lightly:
Thank heavens (and my knowledge of Najdorf opening theory )!
In summary, I played 5 of America's top juniors and barely managed a plus score. I'm not sure I have anything wise to say at the end of this blog, but that's what happened...
See you around!