After a hiatus in chess due to life events last over 6 months, my plan was to take some rust off at the club in May, play in the Mass Open and then really bring a good game to the Rhodes Island state championship. The activity at the club definitely showed the rust that gave way to training opportunities. Not feeling the least bit curtailed, I went into the Memorial day weekend Mass Open in good spirits and a sense of “ I’m going to have some fun in spite of myself”.
At the Mass Open, I had a draw I probably could have one but was too tired to fight it out, then I lost a game on a tactical fault and another game lost after having the upper hand. I let up on the pressure just enough to allow my opponent to fight back. I made the best of it that weekend by having a make shift tailgate party with a portable grill, burgers and dogs and fed a couple weary souls between rounds.
I then spent the time looking over the games and making copious notes on what my thinking process was like to garner some insights where I fell off my horse. In most of my games, I come out of the opening strong with some advantage in either space, development or more active pieces. I don’t need help in the OPENINGS… I need help in my CLOSINGS!. In the games at the MASS open, I had serious troubling finding the right move that would convert the temporary advantage into a permanent one and eventually a point. So, I left the Mass Open with a plan to improve that part of my game through more training in tactics, strategy and playing against the computer with a temporary advantage.
“There’s always the next event.”
Because life is never that simple, my intentions to spar with the computer to improve that aspect were minimized. I did do my regimen of tactical and strategic puzzles but not nearly enough as I had hoped in preparing for the RI state competition. The time control was G/75 and required a little different mental prep.
First round, I ran into the same old dilemma from the Mass Opening, not effectively turning a strong position into a permanent win against a Hippopotimus, of all things….in a swamp. Instead, I sacrificed a pawn for a more active rook on the seventh rank and well connected pieces. But the break through allowed the hippo to munch on my wing pawns and prepare a strong counter attack. I lost the game.
Before the start of the second round I realized my wallet was missing! I had to make a quick decision as to what to do. I took a bye for round two and did a sling shot back to my house and back to the tournament. Fortunately, the wallet was found, fell out of my pants pocket int eh morning haste to get out the door. I made it in time for round three only to have my opponent not show up ( I had a forfeit at the Mass Open as well). Getting a full point due to a forfeiture is like eating a candy bar when you are hungry, empty calories and no nutritional value. Found out my opponent had made a mistake thinking only two rounds a day. Oh well, very frustrating 3 rounds and nothing to really show for it.
Hoping to start playing some real chess, I played a Slav in the forth round and fought with myself to not play a Meran, which I had only recently studied but never really employed it. Played the 4….dxc4 version and was faced with a 5.e4 instead of the usually 5.a4. I played to keep the pawn and piss off his knight on c3. I had what I thought was a decent game and played what I thought were sharp moves getting my queen to a5 bishop to f5 while my opponent had all his pieces on the back rank. But I couldn’t sustain the attack and at one point made an error in judgment as the queens went off the board and castled when I would have been better moving Ke7. The castling required me to lose tempo in avoid back rank mating threats and my opponent got a dangerous passed pawn.
I withdrew after that fiasco. I should have listened to the warning with my missing wallet and withdrawn after round 1… the thought came across my mind. But I LOVE this game. I don’t have many opportunities to play these days due to other recent life complications. I can’t afford the tournaments I used to attend, definitely not heading to the World Open this year, and I go back to teaching next month meaning the two jobs will be consuming my time.
I was hoping to resurface in August at the Continental in Sturbridge but today I am felling rather humiliated from this game. Makes me question why I keep putting myself through this every time. I lost 51 rating points in May alone and probably another 30 after this weekend. I wish I could lose what like I lose rating points. I know its not about the rating but once in a while, it would be nice to have things fall in place a little more. Instead, a series of bad performances like this, makes me really think about hanging up the goddamn pieces. They’ve been a traitorous bunch lately.