The lucky finish: Washington Open Round 6
Photo credit of Washington Chess Federation as usual. The picture is blurry, but it's the only one I could find that you can (sort of) clearly see Joseph Truelson and his opponent. I just hope that Joseph doesn't complain about the picture quality, he fires his editors over much less than this- editor
The Washington Open was about a month ago, but I can still smell the fresh chess boards. Actually I can't, it just sounds poetic, and similar to some movie that I've watched.
Where were we? Oh right, after my 5th round loss against Alan Bishop, in which my lack of thought led me to have one of the worst piece configurations ever.
My dad, and other players, always seem to be impressed with the easiness that I bounce back from a loss. It doesn't mean that I play better, but I don't mope around, and cry or complain about it for several months. One player told me that he wished he could approach chess like me and be less stressed about it.
But how am I able to do this, you might ask? I am able to do this because of my great understanding of people. After losing a game, I know how annoying it is to hear a chess player tell you all about their loss for an hour (lots of personal experience with this, the reader must have experienced this as well if they play over the board chess), so I try to do something to get my mind off of chess, so I won't talk about it. These activities are generally, more like always, counterproductive to my chess improvement, but my main focus of chess isn't to get better at it, so I don't really care.
I managed to forget about my loss pretty quickly. First, as normal, after exiting the tournament room, I struck conversations with players finished with their games. The ones playing their games are still trying to win, and unlike me, don't want to spoil their positions by spending half an hour talking to other players while their clock runs. At least I tried to talk to them. Unfortunately, since it's the 21st century, they were all on their phones, or "smartphones", which, in exchange for being smarter phones, make the users less smart, or tablets, playing video games, maybe 10% of the time playing chess. I haven't ever played the games they were playing (I think they were mainly Clash Royale, Clash of Clans, and some other game), so in a vain attempt to get them off the addicting devices, I told them that they had "demonstrated proficiency at tapping a screen". The hope was that saying this would enlighten them and get them off the devices and leave them free to be with me. But nope, that didn't happen
Although they thought it was funny that I mentioned this, they kept playing their games anyways, to my despair. What has our society gone to? Either obsessive gamers, or they're annoying like me. Or, as Peter would say, they end up brilliant like him.
Disgruntled, which I guess means "dissatisfied" or "angry", (even though I wasn't), I went to the chess shop where I discovered some interesting stuff in the store. One of the games was called "lucky chess". It has the normal rules of chess, expect that before every move you must roll a die, and 3 sides have 2 of the 6 pieces on it (I think there's also an option to skip your turn, or move any piece, and something else). If you have only one legal move, or if you can't move the pieces that get rolled on the die, you can move anything you want. Since I excel at luck, I enjoyed the idea of the game, but wasn't going to spend $5 on it.
But after an hour or so of this, I went back to the normal stuff I do between rounds: play bughouse. I can't remember the last tournament in which I haven't played a game of bughouse. It's very popular, so itdoesn't usually take too much time to get players interested. After about 10 minutes I had 4 players, and more joining, we were ready to begin our games. We went to a small room that few people knew about (so that we wouldn't be harassed or have our pieces knocked over), and began playing. One of the players who was there most of the time was Minda Chen. There were many others, but for security reasons (my own security, so they don't come after me), I won't mention their names.
The games started off as normal, my team winning most of them, but losing enough when I had bad partners, or good opponents (Minda even ended up beating me once, but I got lots of revenge) It was going well, until another girl, rated around 400 I think, decided that she wanted to annoy us and destroy our game. She took paper cups and started throwing them down at the board, knocking down the pieces with great effect (we were playing on the ground). She did this a few times, so we knew that it wasn't an accident, plus she was laughing too. I told her to stop it, but she decided not to, and kept making us rearrange the pieces. Fed up with this, I decided to confiscate the cups to eliminate the problem. I got most of them, but she still had one in her hand, and she looked poised to throw it at the boards. Since I had a winning position (if it was losing, I might have welcomed this), I couldn't let this happen. So, I tipped the cup over in an effort to confuse her and then take it. Unfortunately, the cup was filled with water, so she got drenched, and very upset. I'm not mad at what I did since I didn't know she had water. People should just know in the future not to annoy Joseph. That's the moral of this story. For all you know, I might have made this all up!
Soon after, since it was only a few minutes before 3:30pm, we decided to stop playing bughouse and check the pairings. I asked Minda while we were waiting for the pairings what her score was. "2 and a half", she replied.
"Same. Maybe we'll play."
And sure enough, I was paired against her. I learned today, when reading the teaser for Northwest Chess' July issue, that she won the National Girls Under 14 championship this year, and the Girls Under 12 the previous year. So I was clearly playing a prodigy. There are way too many prodigies in this area! It is super tiring. I wish their coaches would stop them from getting so good and give me a break so I can protect my rating.
I'd only played Minda one other time, in a scholastic tournament that wasn't even US Chess rated. In that event, I lost a piece a Nimzo Indian type position as Black in the first 10 moves or so, when I had played d5, Nc6, and b6, letting her attack and pin my knight with Bb5, Qa4, and Ne5. I was down a full piece as a result. But the game wasn't over. As I say, it's not over until it's not over.
At these scholastic events, they don't give you clocks until after more than half an hour of play, and since that was my best chance to win, win a clock, I spent half an hour "thinking" on just 3 moves until the clock arrived, which was Game in 10 with a 5 second delay. I still view myself kind of lucky for managing to swindle her and win the piece back, followed by two pawns, and then the game, but the clock was what saved me. I think she wasn't adjusted to the speed or maybe was scared of me like everyone else I've faced.
Back to the event, we entered the tournament room, and as we waited, I talked a bunch, but unfortunately I forgot what I said. Maybe one of you, who heard me from the other side of the tournament room, can remember and post in the comments below!
Then, as before everyone last round in an event, the tournament director, Dan Matthews, decided to give the last round announcements. They last around 10 minutes generally, and are annoying since I don't mentioned.
First, they thanked all the top players (Georgi Orlov, Roland Feng, other "good" players) for showing up. I prepared to stand up, but they never said my name, and cruelly snickered when I stood up. Then, they congratulated the winners of some recent events, but they didn't mention the Junior Open Champion, which I had won. The winners of every other important event this year were mentioned, but not me. Then afterwords, they mentioned the "elections". Every single person got reelected (the election took place during the 5th round), and they didn't elect me for WCF dictator or treasurer (the two positions I would have wanted). Lastly, the tournament director held up a sweater and asked everyone who it was. I replied "I think that's mine, but if it's not I'll take it anyways". It was my sweater though; everyone thought I was joking. In fact, after a few moves, I went by to pick up the sweater.
After the announcments, it was back to the game.After our first encounter my opponent must have wanted revenge. Or maybe just a bunch of rating, as her tournament up to this point had been amazing for her (She had beaten Advaith "The Prodigy", rated 1785, and Ryan Ackerman, rated 1949). And she almost won...
What can I say. I was lucky, really lucky, but nothing atypical about that. I save many positions that were worse than this one.
I find it funny that lichess.org's "computer analysis" gave me an average centipawn loss of 9 (https://lichess.org/s3713YlA) even though I was nearly lost. I guess the computers still need to improve their evaluation of positions.
Later on, Peter would say that Minda's position was "positionally winning" (he says that about lots of positions that aren't actually winning), but he might have been right. I'm not a very good defender, and one mess up would likely have lost the game. It probably wasn't theoretically lost, but again, this is not theory. This is real life!
So, I got 3.5/6. That's an ok event, I guess.
(Checks rating change on US Chess)
2 rating points lost. 1959-1957. NOOO. This event was awful!
One of my blogs in 2015 is titled "Horrible play doesn't always produce horrible results", and to some extent that could apply to this event. My play in Rounds 5 and sloppiness 6 were especially bad, and my round 3 blunder (and round 1) was also awful. Nowhere in this event did I manage to demonstrate any mastery of chess (my 4th round game was my best one, but I certainly didn't play brilliantly).
At the same time though, this was encouraging. I'm clearly not giving chess my full effort, and with horrible play I'm still able to somehow get a 1900+ performance. As said before, my main problems were not using enough time, and missing my opponents ideas, problems I've had for a long time.
Even as I write this, I haven't solved those problems. But last week, with summer vacation starting, I've started studying chess for a few hours a day (the first time in my life I've been so dedicated), so I'm hoping to fix the many weaknesses in my play and finally make my way up to expert and then master, which really could happen every tournament (in my dreams). I could beat Magnus Carlsen in my sleep, as I've mentioned, but only in my sleep, since I'd be dreaming.
This ends the Washington Open, (actually the last round ended it, but I'm sort of trying to pretend that I'm living it now, even though it was 30 days ago) the largest non-scholastic event held in the Northwest every year. I saw, I came, but I didn't conquer. But that's alright (or all right, the dictionary isn't sure which one is more accurate). I realized the problems with my play, did nothing to fix them, gained many new admirers, and had a much more enjoyable experience than I did for the next few weeks (where I had to focus on school in a vain effort in improve my grades). In a way, I was disappointed with myself. It was a lot of money ($130 EF and not enough prizes!) and it didn't appear I had showed much for it. But I obviously shouldn't put all my life on chess. After all, life is not a game of chess, if it were, most of society would be failing.
Added later: Peter's name is not actually Peter. He is simply an unknown figure in the chess world.