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31, 32, 33 + 1st OTB Tournament in years

2/24/13 Polgar 5334: 378, Chess School 1a: 545, LC: 3, WC: 60, B: 3, Silman Endgame: Started Part 2, Mueller DVD: 2.3

Not much progress on the puzzle and book/DVD fronts. Ran into busy spell trying to get proposal done for work, date night on Friday with my wife (in-laws finally could babysit) and an all day rapid/blitz OTB tournament on Saturday. Today I had to take a breather since I was burnt to a frazzle from the blitz job yesterday and I had to get in my DHLC 45 45 game with the Chessorcist today. The deadline for these DHLC quad games is Sunday at midnight and it seems that I am always playing them on Sunday evening.

The OTB Blitz tournament was a really interesting experience. It was an unrated event but I was totally blown away by how intense and angry looking a lot of the people were. I went in there looking for a fun afternoon of chess, maybe making some new friends. I came out bloodied and beaten to a pulp.

Playing with a tournament size board was tough getting used to, it was like sitting in the front row of a movie theater having to move your head around just to view the four quadrants of the board. Then the time controls were tough on me. Game in 15 OTB feels a whole lot quicker than it does here on Chess.com. There were 5 rounds of G/15 and 4 rounds of G/5. I was lucky to get 2 wins in each set of rounds and the only way I got those was by putting on my lucky fez. I was really outclassed. The level of players was stronger than I was used to. With the group here, the bell curve peak was around 1800. Back in Phoenix and New Orleans the majority of cats were between 1200 and 1600 with me falling right smack dab in the middle. Probably the craziest thing was that there was a FM and an IM playing in this little tournament of 20 people in the back corner of a little library. Never saw anyone of that caliber in the flesh.

I struggled and lost a lot but had some fun getting back in the saddle. The bad thing is being blitz games I didn't get any game scores to review and try to learn something from. What I did learn was that I need to play standard time control games. Even with the 15 minute blitz, I felt like I barely had enough time to digest the position. I wasted half the game thinking deeply about moves in the opening.

The other thing that I learned was that when playing stronger players, I can make a game of it by playing safe defensive moves throughout the game rather than trying to attack like a banshee. While I still lost, the games were level until usually my lack of space cramped my play and the stonger players broke through.

I was able to use that to my advantage in my game with Chessorcist today. In my previous two games with him I got beat down but was trying to attack. Today I decided to play like I did against the strong guys yesterday with a focus on defense and on a real board. When Chessorcist issued the challenge, I was using the Chess.com app on my iPad playing some online turn based games on the sofa with my son drawing next to me. I ran and grabbed my nice small board and set it up on the coffee table and I made some cafe au lait. Turzo recommended using a real board in my last lesson and I did try to use it before but it was too big for the desk and made it difficult to use the computer. On the coffee table with the iPad propped up, it was great. It was much nicer to play that way than way back in the study glued to an office chair and a desktop, like I've done for all my other chess.com slow games. That feels too much like being at work. In the bright living room with the snow falling outside and a hot cup of New Orleans style coffee, it felt almost as if we had Chessorcist over for company. 

I had black and was cramped for most of the game. My light square bishop was blocked in by my pawns for most of the game but I was eventually able to maneuver him around to a great spot and had some good diagonal tactics running through my head. He had the d and e pawns connected, passed and pretty far down the board, but I had the two bishops vs knight and bishop and the queens were still on the board. I got lucky by not only swaping my knight for his bishop but he recaptured with the f pawn opening his king up for some possible diagonal tactics. Chernev would've been proud of me exploiting the weakened king fortress. I don't know if it was my "new" prevent defense style of play from yesterday's beat down or if I was simply due a win since I did already lose a few to Thechessorcist (if he is 200 points stronger than me then I should be able to win 1 out of 4). One other thing that I did that I felt helped was flipping the board around during play, another Turzo suggestion. The chess.com iPad app has a little icon that looks like the shuffle icon for iTunes that will flip the board. I felt that it gave me a better idea of where Chessorcist wanted to attack and how he might try to counter my diagonal jazz at the end of the game when I was finally able to get my pieces out (even so, I missed his Rf1 move. I really thought I had that e-rook trapped with either a skewer, pin or fork. I seemingly forgot that rooks could move sideways...)

Tomorrow I will be back on practice schedule and looking for some normal OTB play at the casual chess meetup at a cafe here in town. Hopefully it'll be a little less instense than yesterday. OTB is more exciting but some of the attitudes need adjustment.

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