GargleBlaster's Guide to Chess Mastery: Purgatory in Portland
Hello. This blog entry is dedicated to all those out there above 2100 without a title. Let me say first and foremost that such players are treated with nowhere near the respect they should command. In general their ideas are scorned, opinions mocked, accomplishments ignored, pants wedgied, and all because their rating might be a few points off from 2200, a completely arbitrary measuring stick. Trust me on this - I know, for I have long labored among these wretched souls in Caissa's most apathetic realm of purgatory.
That said, in 2010 I decided that, being fairly well into my 30's, I should try and make master before senility took over completely. To this end I began playing in larger tournaments than my local club (detailed in my previous chapter, "Chess in the Middle of Nowhere"), starting with the Western States Open in Reno and then several events in the United Kingdom. Actually, most of these experiences I've actually already extensively blogged about (though, again, in untitled obscurity), so let's fast forward to 2012, year of the GargleBlunder.
Chapter V: Occupy(ing) Portland
By 2012 I had somehow managed to raise my rating to about 2159, where it was when I graduated from High School roughly a billion years ago. Things were looking up, and I had a plan - invade Portland, win a tournament or two, make Master and, er, OK, I'm not sure what after that, but nevermind, first make Master. As it turned out, this came close to working right from the get-go after I found myself on something of a winning streak at the 2012 Portland Summer Open. Little did I know then that I was about to came face to face with my arch-nemesis, a man who would not once, but twice thwart my ambition in the foulest of ways. His name is Brian Esler, and, to make it worse, he seems like a pretty nice guy.
OK, so that stung a bit, as winning it would have possibly put me at 2200. Incidentally, right before the game someone said to me "Hey, you're almost Master. Wouldn't it be funny if you lost and never got close again? Heh." Yes, hilarious. Anyhow, I would have another shot at glory a few weeks later after having a great result in a local quad (including somehow a win against FM Nick Raptis, arguably the strongest player in Oregon). All I need to do is win as White against local Expert/former Master David Janniro who, truth be told, is also a nice guy.
The best I can say about that game is that my opponent was kind enough to give me a ride downtown afterwards. So, twice in as many weeks I had knocked on the door to titledom only to be forcefully escorted out by my own stupidity: first by getting into unnecessary time trouble against Esler, and second by moving too quickly vs. Janniro. Of course, much of chess for most people (and certainly myself) involves oscillating between these two ways to mistreat the clock, so it was hard to conclude much. Alas, I would soon discover the real truth of the matter, namely that Caissa is a stone cold harpy.
Moving on, I had one more chance at 2200 before the U.S. Open in August (in Vancouver, WA, ~30 miles from Portland), this time a G/60 tournament where a win in the final round against Nick Raptis would put me over the top. What happened instead is painfully comical - a winning position followed by a time scramble where my opponent's flag had fallen long before my acceptance of his draw offer. To be fair, however, this was arguably the least painful of my near misses as my position was probably totally lost at several points during our ill-fated blitzapalooza.
OK, this is enough for one Blog. Stay tuned for next week when I detail the disaster that was the 2012 U.S. Open.