A missed opportunity: FIDE Invitational Round 5

NM Joseph_Truelson

There's always a nice thing with being last place in a tournament. You can figure, at least it won't get worse! And that was the correct type of thinking to have. Even though it is completely false. It really can get worse. 

You could argue that all of my games were missed opportunities. At least I hope you could. I never want to admit to myself that my opponents were actually better than me. Rather, I want to blame everything else besides me. The TD? You? Anything, anything, to avoid the truth! As I tell my chess buddies all the time, "I don't want to hear the truth!" This generally happens after I say something false, and they correct me. For example, I once dumbly said that the French Advance was nearly winning for Black. Some little kid that probably played it objected. Rather than argue with him in theory that I didn't know, I instead said "Be quiet! Are you saying the truth? I don't want to hear the truth!" And so forth. I hate it when that happens!

I was expecting to have won at least one game at this point in the tournament. By not winning any games, I was proving to myself that I needed to improve my play instead of hoping for a blunder. Actually, my hopes for a blunder always came true, but the person making the blunders was not who I wanted.

How do I get better at chess though? In May this year, I finally decided to start putting time in chess and studying openings, reading some good chess books, but that didn't seem to help me that much.

So I realized that since I was not going to get better, that there was only one other way to win. To make the opponents play worse! But how would I do that? Should I try some crazy attacks, off the board? Slip a couple queens on the board and hope that my opponent won't notice? Did I need more RAR? Did I need to harass my opponent more? Did I have to eat at the board to annoy my opponent, despite a sign saying that I shouldn't do that? Did I have to "accidently" drop a cup of coffee? Because it didn't seem like I would be able to win by means of actual skill. There was one thing that I knew that I wouldn't do though. Withdrawing, while it might help my rating, would not help my chess abilities. So it didn't matter if I had to finish with .5/9 (Except that it did matter). If I was that bad, I was that bad! 

Anyways, going into the 5th round I was finally last place with 0.5/4. It took four rounds and 4 blunders, but I finally got there. I got to play somebody that used to be tied for last place, but had finally gotten out of last place, Zachary Zhang, who had 1/4. He was a friendly opponent and later in the tournament I told him how lucky he was to draw me and how that was his best game in the tournament. I should have tried to scare him early, but unfortunatly everyone in the tournament was keeping an eye on me and was making sure that I wasn't being myself. I always hear that I need to be myself, but at these tournaments half of the people are trying to prevent that from happenning. Not exactly encouraging. And between the rounds I played a bunch of blitz and killed my normal thinking process, so that made things worse.

As usual, the opening caused some problems. After the catastophe in the last game's opening, I decided I wanted to win. So I played the move that I used to always play since I started playing in 5th grade, 1.e4. I used to always play this move until I moved here. Suddenly, I met people that took their laptops to every tournament. They had all this stuff to study opening and I was finding refutations to all of my opening systems! Before, I used to prepare without any resources, as I didn't even know that databases and engines existed. That led to really bad openings. And even worse, players like Anthony He (He always tells me "I M He" (I am He)) are always looking at my game, ready to come up with some crazy novelty and gain a crushing +.3 advantage from the opening as White.

Oddly enough, the move e4 is the move that I've done the worst with. My record with c4 (2.5/3), d4 (3/5), and the Bird's (1 draw and the rest wins, always against lower rated players except Travis Olson) are better. And my record with 1.Nf3 is 1/2. I think I've lost most of my tournament chess games. So why was I playing this? To be honest, I thought that I actually did understand the positions after e4 better. But then at the board, I was stupid enough to decide that I wasn't going to play the main lines. I played a Nd2 French, but not with 2.d4.

Ooops! I messed up, AGAIN. But that didn't mean that I couldn't go to the skittles room and be loud again. 

I started a new joke which seems to really have caught on. I was saying how I got a "GM" draw in this game, and that the whole game was prearranged. Zachary, my opponent, doesn't talk too much so the truth didn't get out, which was a nice thing for me. Now at every event I seem to say that I want a bunch of GM draws. Every draw I get is a GM draw, which is a lie, but... I don't want to hear the truth.

The main logic behind this is, if I can't play like a GM, I hope to convince myself that I am at least having GM draws.

In the next game, I got to play the lowest rated person of the tournament! Don't worry, I didn't get even close to winning.