Blundering at the 19th Annual Eastern Class Championship in Sturbridge.



I thought I’d pause in the Lone Pine 1975 series to provide myself with some cathartic analysis of the three losses at my most recent tournament.  To put things in perspective, I’ve been in the process of transitioning positions at my main job and started teaching part time. In addition, I have a very “exciting” home environment that keeps me up at night chasing rebellious teens. Why don’t I just put chess on a shelf?  This is my outlet, where I can blow off steam. Once I enter that arena, and hit that clock, the meditative process begins and for the most part, I can put out of mind all the other things, in theory.




In practice, I have been distracted as will be seen in my game. I was walking into round 3 with a point and a half.  My opponent was of equal rating but of fractional age in relation to my own. I played the White side of a QGD with the first four moves being classic 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3  as we entered the three knights variation. Here my opponent plays 4…b6 an oddball in my book. I attempted to play via classic rules and exchanged first in the center creating an opportunity to play into a hopefully a minority attack.  But I never got there.  Asleep at the wheel, I played rote moves and opted to castle versus taking aggressive action on my opponent’s underdeveloped queenside. Then I wasted my time with pawn moves and closed myself in for my opponent to walk in with a Queen and knight.  Here is that debacle:



In round four I was in a swashbuckling spirit as I was facing  an opponent I often face at the club. I had a pretty good score against him and just plain old felt like taking a risk… at a tournament. I had been studying the Winawer Gambit in the Slav at a cursory level and thought “ wouldn’t it be cool to surprise Mark with this?  Well, in hindsight, I was totally unprepared and only knew the first few moves and not the true spirit of the gambit. It went abysmally wrong from about move 6 until I finally  threw in the towel. Here is that debacle:


In the last round, my opponent barely could see over the king. What distracted me most was this odd looking security blanket device the kid had. I should have taken a photo of it but this is what I found on the web that came close to it:


“What’s that?” said the mean looming figure from the Black pieces pointing to the crocodile shaped thing.


“A pencil case” said the heroic voice.


“No its not, it’s a crocodile!” exclaimed the bully as if to say under his breath, “ you expect THAT to protect you?”


Calmly, our small hero said, “ It’s a crocodile pencil case, sir.”


Such a device was fitting for the swamp of the  Caro-Kann I fell into. I missed some really aggressive moves in the middle game and by move 26 I resigned as the crocodile was about to consume my queen.


Here is THAT debacle:



It actually was good to review these games and put the key positions in my “daily dose” study patterns. I am practicing for the World Open this year. The Part time teaching gig will reward me with the means to get there. Continuing to play even at half capacity of my full strength is better than dusting off rust a month prior to the big event. Thank god I don’t put much stock in my rating. It’s only a game. On the bright side, I played through some fog, went on an adventure and challenged a fierce little crocodile.  There’s always NEXT TIME!