I'm finally 2000: SCC July Tornado
Photo credit of Joseph Truelson, who for once actually decided to take his own pictures. He totally took this picture of the tornado. He took all the other photos of this event as well. This tornado wanted to blow away the whole field, or playing field, of the Seattle Chess Club, but seeing that the tournament was called a tornado, thought that a fellow tornado would destroy them. But this evil tornado might be coming after you right now... At least that's what my boss Joseph told me. He lies as much as he tells the truth, so take everything he says with an atom (or is it formula unit? I got a 3 on AP Chemistry so I should know, but I probably just got lucky on the exam) of salt. If you take it with a grain of salt, you will be eating a bunch of cans of salt, possibly to the point of damaging your health, since he lies so much.- editor
For those of you that don't know, a tornado is an evil wind that enjoys destroying stuff. You can find more about it here. (I'm only posting this so the parents might think that this blog might be educational).- from another editor
I just love stealing photos without giving anyone credit! I totally drew this picture myself! (Please don't search Google for "evil tornado").
The SCC Tornado is a monthly event held at the Seattle Chess Club on Sundays. Why is it called a tornado? Well, the hope is that you don't get blown away, but due to the semi-quick time control of G/60 with a 5 second delay to delay your own loss, someone is guaranteed to fail.
As I've noticed before, it seems that only places that don't have tornadoes seem to call their events tornadoes. In Minnesota, I'd never seen a chess event called a tornado (nor did I ever see an actual tornado, although I had been through a lot of tornado "watches" and a couple "warnings"). Maybe this is because if they called them tornadoes, people wouldn't show up in fear of one actually happening, if they weren't smart enough to realize that tornadoes are not pre-arranged. But here, where we are all safe from dangerous winds, there are "tornadoes" every month.
Every time I'm at this event I always make some joke about people hoping that they don't get blown away in the tornado. And, metaphorically, this time, I managed to stick firmly to the ground (more like sitting in my chair) and resist the winds that were the younger prodigies, each of whom were determined to beat me with their own reasons. Maybe because of my supposed obnoxiousness (is that a word?), maybe because they always try to win, maybe since I'd beaten them before, but most importantly, to gain rating, the meaning of life.
But, to sound like every other sporting event or report, "it wasn't easy". (Quote taken from about 500 sources).
It wasn't clear at first if I would be able to play in this tournament. Complications and confusions abounded, and I thought my hopes of being an expert would have to be postponed to the following week, for the SCC Quads. But to my luck, at the last hour, I was allowed to play. I was already too late for the 1st round, which started at 11:30, as I didn't leave until after 12:30, but I easily arrived in time for the 2nd round, because since there was a new TD (more on that later), all the rounds were late.
After getting dropped off and thanking my parents, I came in the Seattle Chess Club in all my glory, expecting tons of chess players to pay my entry fee for me and say "Hi Joseph, I'm so glad you came!", or "If you didn't come I was going to play well since you wouldn't distract me!" Instead I was given evil stares, mutiple sighs, some crying, and was forced to pay the entry fee of $25 myself, much to my dismay. Since I was late, I would get a half point bye in the first round.
Looking back at this tournament, it appears that me coming late to the tournament actually caused me to play the right opposition to get my expert rating. But that didn't mean that I would win money. As it turned out, only a perfect score was able to win money in this event (More on that later also).
I had around half an hour before my first game would start. So I checked the field, which appeared to be extremely strong. Evil Bryce Tiglon, a 2400 who is also my age, was there. He was handing out flyers that advertised a free chess camp. An adult master explained that he was doing it for volunteer hours. I asked if I would get volunteer hours for attending, but they said no.
Then I realized I that I should do that too! I would train the players to play worse, and then proceed to beat them in tournament play. As well as getting volunteer hours!
Supposedly, at Bryce's school, Lakeside, he is expected to get volunteer hours for graduation. I didn't have to get volunteer hours for my graduation, and was slightly surprised to hear this. The younger players, meanwhile, were confused since they didn't know who to believe on whether volunteer hours are required to graduate from high school or not.
There were other good players at this event, the other ones I remember seeing (until the crosstable comes up, when I will have a brilliant recovery of my memory and know every single result), were Ray Kaufman, Steven Breckinridge, William "Bill" Schill, and Ignacio Perez. Now that I have paid enough respect to these good players (whom I firmly detest), let's move on since I didn't play any of them.
Several players asked why I was late, and many told me that I would have to get a 0-point bye, but I knew they were wrong since one of my friends have done this before (although I told them I had bribed the TD into giving me half a point, in order to advertise RAR and this website.)
In round 2, my first game, I was paired against a young girl who had gotten a full-point bye in the first round. I won't know her name until the crosstable comes out, when again, I will miraculously remember, but she was rated around 800 I think. But she didn't play that badly.
Before the game, seeing the clock, I asked her if we could play with one minute instead of one hour. She smiled and didn't say anything in return, but we moved so quickly that we were practically playing bullet chess.
This game was the first one to finish among the 20 games going on (there was a near record turnout of 42 players), as I had 52 minutes at the game's end, and she had 50.
After this event, one of the people asked to play double bughouse with me (we play both boards) and I managed to move faster, thus, once I was losing on one board I could play on the other one and save myself. It seemed cheap, but I managed to win 3 games before hanging my king after stalling on one of the boards. Feeling stupid, I entered the tournament room, and I decided to take a picture from the comfortable chairs behind the playing tables:
This photo was of the second round, taken after my game ended
During these tornado events, since the TDs are trying to get the rounds up ASAP, there isn't enough time to go outside or do some really crazy activity. As a result, I resorted to more mundane activities between the rounds. For a while, some kids started trying to steal my coat, after that we used the empty water jugs that are meant to be placed on the water machine (is that what you call them?) as drums.
I also had a short talk with Joseph Levine, congratulating him for winning $2,917 in the National Open just 3 weeks ago. When I asked him how he did it, he didn't seem to think it was a big deal, he just tried his best, and managed to win. He also mentioned that he was over 1900 playing in an U1900 event, so it wasn't that impressive (though he went from 1902-1966 in that event). But I told him that this was impressive because of all the sandbaggers that play in these big money events, I found it impressive that he was able to beat all of them. He explained, "The problem with sandbagging is that after a while it starts to becoming part of your style to lose. So when you play in the big tournament, you keep losing".
"So that means that your subconscious is telling you to lose?" I questioned (or to expand the vocabulary used, I implored, scrutinized, quizzed, etc.)
"Yeah, sandbagging makes you instinctively try to lose." That was Joseph Levine's view of sandbaggers.
A large amount of the time before the 3rd round was spent talking to the new tournament director, who tried to prevent us from having fun. Unlike Bryce Tiglon (I later called him "Bryce Ticklin', and that he should have a Ticklin' chess camp), he was doing it for money, not for volunteer hours. Hearing this, I was more excited, as not only do I get the ability to make unfair pairings, but I can make money as well! The Seattle Chess community will be destroyed! I jokingly asked him if he could pair me against the lowest rated player of the tournament each round, and he said he wouldn't. That means I better become a Tournament Director myself and play in my own events, pairing me against players that I know that I can beat.
My parents came by to drop off some tasty food, and soon after the games all ended and the pairings were being made. Just like in other tournaments, a mob forms around the TD table to intimidate the TD into making the pairings. However, this new TD was not to be frightened by the mobs, and told us all to take a step back. When I realized that to counter this we could just take baby steps back, he told us to take a "Fred step back". Fred is the old tournament director, and is way taller than everyone else. The new TD was being trained in the art of how to use pairing cards. I had asked him earlier why they didn't use the computer. He said that it was easier to pair by hand rather than enter everyone in the system. I don't agree with him, another reason why I should become a tournament director.
I was paired against Sophie Tien, a 1600 prodigy (although she used to be 1800) who I've beaten 3 times in tournament before. The first game was especially bad by me, with me winning on time 3 pawns down, but fortunately I've improved a lot since then, so our other two games were more reasonable, and I managed to win them after a mistake by her. But she was having a good event, having draw Joseph Levine in the second round.
A "chess mom" noted that I had been playing girls so far in the tournament. Would I manage to beat this one, who desperately wanted revenge from our past encounters? Find out.... right now.
This game was pretty decent by me, I thought at the time. Joseph Levine also had won his game, so me and him both had 2.5. I told him that if the 4 games between the 8 players with 2 points ended decisively we would play each other. He wasn't that interested, instead preferring to read some book instead of talking to me. He also didn't think it was likely that all 4 games would end decisively. But when I looked at them, they all looked extremely favorable for one side, each game had one of the players having a material advantage. Steven Breckinridge finished off his opponent, so did Bryce Tiglon and Ray Kaufman. That left Ignacio Perez's game vs. Owen Xuan. At first, it looked clear that with an extra pawn that Ignacio would win, but to my surprise, after leaving and coming back a few minutes later, he had lost the pawn back, and the position looked drawn. Still, a rook and 4 pawns each, on both sides of the board, can get pretty sharp, and by making his king active, Ignacio managed to get a much better, and then winning position. He had sacrificed a pawn, but was going to win it back, because he had a rook attacking a pawn and threatening back rank mate (he was White, and had a pawn on g6, and Owen had a pawn on g7 and a king on g8). I expected Owen to retreat his rook to the back rank to prevent mate, and then try his best to defend a likely lost position. However, Owen touched his passed h-pawn, intending to move it, and then realized the mate threat. But it was clear that he intended to move this pawn, so after saying "Oh no", he moved it, and was promptly checkmated.
Since it was obvious that I would play the "other Joseph" now, I told Joseph Levine that we would be playing each other. He continued to read his book.
As the new TD wrote results up on the wall chart to show everyone's new scores, I decided to talk some more. The rounds were late for this event, and I said that if I was TD, the rounds would always be up on time since I would prearranged the pairings and make them before the tournament started. Not liking how the future of Seattle Chess would be with me TDing, he said that if I was a TD that no one would play chess anymore.
"But then I'd be the world champion of chess!"
"Yeah", he smirked, "a champion of 1!"
I felt nervous playing Joseph Levine as black again. In our other 3 games, I had 2/3, but he won our most recent encounter, when I played the Scandinavian.
I usually play new openings in rematches against everyone, and since I'd played Tiger's Modern and the Scandinavian against him before, this time I decided to try what I used to always play against 1.e4, the Petroff's. Before the game I was looking at the online database, and wondered if should try the Petroff's or the Caro Kann. I was annoyed that against the Caro Kann he could try some attacking main line, where as in the Petroff's he could try 5.Nc3. But I figured that he didn't know that line.
When he came to the board, he said that I looked scared. What a great way to start a conversation! But since we are always making fun of each other I had no problem with it. He should be scared of me after all, I'm still higher rated. He "unadjusted" my king by tipping it over, and then in response I pushed his pieces off the board (actually I didn't push them off the table, I just moved them back a rank), claiming that I had a huge space advantage and was pushing him off the board. After more "unadjusting", I told him what I'd do if I was losing. Since it was a wooden board, I decided to flip it 180 degrees. Unfortunately, it wasn't very smooth, and many of the pieces fell off the table. He told me that this strategy wouldn't have worked anyways, because of the notation sheets and the pairings, but I said that it would, since I'd reverse the names on the scoresheet, make sure no one else told the truth, and then say that we "accidentally" started with the wrong colors.
Against such a resourceful strategy he was hopeless. It's no wonder that he didn't get a completely winning position, because if he did I would most certainly have done this. I knew that I'd be an expert if I won this game, so after my customary "Good Luck except if you play me!" and pushing the clock, the game was underway.
The decisive game, nothing else in the world mattered during it
It's quite possible that Joseph Levine didn't resign because he knew I might try something crazy like a 3 knights (last time I did 5 queens) checkmate. Maybe next time I will try bishop and knight?
Interestingly enough people were trying to offer analysis on more "cooler" checkmates. Steven Breckinridge tried to offer some cool mating lines, and Joseph Levine showed a line in which I could use my remaining b-pawn to checkmate him. I'm glad that beating him in this way left him feeling better as well as less upset about the loss. It can't hurt to be creative in winning!
After this game, I entered the skittles room, where pizza had been brought, and I ate 3 slices. I congratulated myself, and while a master told me "good job", most of the masters that were analyzing Bryce Tiglon vs. Ignacio Perez (Bryce won) were not interested in welcoming the newest expert of the Seattle Chess community.
Surprised at the lack of attention I was getting, me and Andy (Sophie's younger brother) played a new variant of chess. It was called "sideways chess" since we basically added more space to the chessboard:
A new variant of chess? My first 8 moves involved moving my king back to the back rank of the lowest board.
I managed to get a winning position against Andy in this odd game, but I decided to promote to 3 knights to make it more difficult. It proved so hard to win, that I blundered a knight, leaving the game a draw. But I wasn't mad at myself, I was elated knowing that I was an expert.
But I had one last grievance. Since the 2 top boards had players with perfect scores and both ended decisively, I didn't get money. Prizes were offered for 1st and 2nd, so as clear 3rd I got nothing. Just 16 rating points, at least according to the rating estimator. Enough to get to 2005.
But I asked him, as consolation for 3rd place, if he could wait a week before sending in the results of the tournament. Why? Because a big money event, the Seattle Chess Classic, is being held next month, and it offers U2000 prizes. If they publish my rating before the deadline I might have to fight for U2150 rather than U2000 prizes, which would be a lot more difficult. I'm still hoping that they don't submit the results early...
You might ask me, "does the world feel different now that you are an expert? Is life brighter, does your brain automatically turn everything into a chess board, are you obsessed about chess?" I don't think there are any immediate changes, rating is just a number.
But not a bad one! I was initially aiming for expert before the end of summer, and it looks like for the first time I've completed a chess goal. (Usually I have crazy goals, like master next tournament, or world champion in 1 year).
This gives me more hope for my chess career. Perhaps I can be a contender, and work my way up to master in a few days. In the meantime (time sure is mean!), the goal is to study hard, and to make the best move every move. (Both goals are never going to be met).
The next two events coming up are the SCC July Quads this Saturday and then the Seattle Seafair, the largest SCC event, the week after. Am I going to prove myself worthy of an expert rating, or maybe more? Or, does pride come before the fall?