Will I stop messing up?: Washington Open Rounds 4-5

Will I stop messing up?: Washington Open Rounds 4-5

NM Joseph_Truelson

I wasn't able to come to the Washington Open myself, so, like in the other blog post, I simply took this picture from the Washington Chess Federation's Facebook page without their permission. It's of Joseph during his 4th round game, against Garett Casey. Hope he doesn't get mad at me for posting it.- editor

I hate my editor! But that can wait for another day, when I don't have anything else silly enough to write about. For now, I think I do.

For those of you who clicked to read this blog because of the title, (Haha! Clickbait!) the answer is no, I will never stop messing up. But this blog isn't about me messing up, it's about many topics somehow related to each other.

My last blog (which can be found here) ended right as my 4th round game against the Casey brother began. However, since the usually format of these blogs is to write around 1000 words before I begin the actual game, I clearly must come up with something more to say. 

And I'm not exaggerating about it taking 1000 words! One time one of my blogs was supposedly over 2300 words according to Peter, (real name hidden for security reasons), and 80+% of the writing in my reports usually happens before the game begins. I guess that this one will be different however. There's not that much to say about my opponent, the complaints about the tournament were too long ago for me to remember them and how they angered me so much, and I didn't do anything really memorable on this day (the last day, Monday, was a little less Monday-ne). 

Instead of the normal, in which I try to write bad humor that may or may have not occurred, I'll describe my chess style. If it's accurate, I've accomplished something in being able to understand my strengths and weaknesses, which masters have advised is a good way to improve at chess. If I'm wrong, then my opponents will get an incorrect idea of what player I am and will be tricked on the board. 

In my fourth round game I opened with 1.c4, which, despite playing this against many higher rated players, I'd never lost a game with it. That actually changed in my next event, where I took my luck too far and played it against a 2200 player, but either way, it's the first move that I've had the best results with. I'm not sure why, I'm not a great positional player (the English is considered to be a very positional opening). In fact, if I were to define myself as a player, I'd say that I'm pretty much equally bad at all areas of the game. There are tons of weaknesses in my play, but I don't think they are concentrated in one area of the game. I'm not saying that's a good thing. It's probably better if I became like a young attacking kid or like Peter. Then I could steer the position to positions I play better. But I'm not up the work to become a great positional or tactical player, so this won't happen. If only I wasn't so lazy...

Another important thing about my "style" of play lies in my pregame intimidation of the younger opponents. Many players seem to think that I'm a very lucky player. They think that I win games and yet (according to them) I'm not very good. According to them, my intimidation skills are able to reel in the points (which, oddly enough, to them is unfair). Young kids see me between rounds being very noisy, defying the tournament directors, and as a result think that I'm out to get them and they start to play more passively, and trade down into endgames, in which I'm able to beat them in due to my intimidation skills, making them play the whole game badly, and use up a lot of their time trying not to be scared by me, rather than focusing on the actual game. I'm not kidding, that happened here, which was the beginning of the now-famous RAR attack. Say RAR! Dozens of players at chess tournaments, including this one, are using the term now.

Since I'm getting distracted when trying to discuss my chess style, I think it's best for my publicity that I move on to Game 4. 

This game is in a way similar to my third round game. Both sides are making a lot of decisions (bad and good), until finally one side commits an unnaturally bad blunder and loses instantly. Fortunately this time my opponent messed up... 

A decent game, definitely my best one in the tournament. I was surprised, that when checking with lichess, it claimed I had no inaccuracies, mistakes, or blunders, despite a average centipawn loss of 14. Honestly, there's not much that I can improve from this game. Yet Peter made fun of me since I won with "luck" due to my opponent's odd blunder. He thinks wins are only legitimate when your opponents put up perfect defense, in other words, play like GMs. I guess he does have a point, but my opponents are just as bad as me! He is too! Why is he still criticizing me?

After this game, I had to take a bus home. My parents had actually showed up during  the game, hoping that I was done early, and brought me some food from McDonald's, but I wasn't done and didn't want to keep them waiting for me, they need their sleep, and so I was the only one that would get to bed late. In fact, on the way back I accidentally took a wrong route when going home but luckily I managed to catch my mistake, (I had to take 2 extra buses as a result) and arrived home before midnight before plopping and dropping in bed. I was going to have to leave my house before 8am the next day.

As I laid in my bed, looking at the ceiling (I know that doesn't sound exotic, but that was what I was actually doing), I was thankful that I'd won this game. Even if I failed tomorrow (which I did), I proved that if I don't make horrible mistakes I'm able to play at expert level.

The next day, I rushed over to my bus, which took me somewhere in downtown Seattle, where I'd make my transfer to Lynnwood. (3rd and Pike avenue? It's been a while so I'm not sure where I got the bus to Lynnwood). What I do remember was that Ignacio Perez, a master from Cuba who makes crazy sacrifices every game, was there. He's a very friendly player, and always has something to say, so we talked, and took the same bus to the tournament. He talked about what he called the "three types of sacrifices", ones that are for a quick checkmate, positional sacrifices, and unclear sacrifices (which I think is kind of similar to the second one). He said that he loves making positional sacrifices. While at first this would seem crazy since he's an attacking player, when I looked at his games it made sense: his sacrifices prevented the opponents from developing their pieces, and as a result he won with the superior firepower. In a way that is positional! We also discussed norms, since players like me always dream of what we can't have, and he said that it's best to play in norm tournaments when you are on a streak and are getting many good results, because good tournaments tend to come in a streak. 

After this incredibly informative conversation, we were going to analyze my 4th round game, and walked from where the bus dropped us off to the Embassy Suites. While crossing the street, there was an old lady in the car and she didn't notice us, her car actually hit Ignacio, but fortunately he managed to step away quickly before any serious damage was done. Still, it was sort of scary! He, however, didn't even act upset about the situation.

The pairings for round 5 were up when I came, and Ignacio said that he was paired against Mary Kuhner. (he had stayed for the blitz event on Sunday and thus knew the pairings) I checked, and I was supposed to play Brendan Zhang! We have a long history of knowing and arguing with each other (with a 2.5-2.5 score against each other every game is also extremely intense). But the pairings were changed, and instead I got paired against Alan Bishop, a low expert, who I immediately knew I'd have good chances of beating.

He arrived around 15 minutes late for the game. Oh, how I wish I had taken more time to see his plans and not messed up in the way I did... Then again, he played a pretty good game, not allowing me chances once he was winning.


Me wondering why I had blundered so badly during Game 5

An awful game. I keep seeing the same problem in my play: missing my opponent's ideas and doing what I want, as well as not using enough time! Yet I didn't put enough effort into fixing that problem in this event. Now I was guaranteed not to have a good tournament! I used to be really good at seeing my opponent's ideas, then I was told it is important to stress that your plans are more important (Sillyman, who referred to it as "Pushing Your Own Agenda"), but I've taken that advice too far in certain cases, especially in blitz.

As you all mourn of my defeat, (it's always important to involve the reader in your writing, so this is my effort of doing so) you might wonder if there is any hope left. Not just for me, but for you as well. Fortunately there is, my "friend". The last round, which correctly noted by some author in some book that I read some time ago, is critical since most of what you remember from your events is based on your last round performance. Even a bad event can come off feeling good if you won your last game. 

Did I get this satisfaction? Did I outwit the prodigy that I had to play in the last round? Did I prove that there is still hope for me in chess? Will there ever be a blog where I don't end it with a bunch of questions? Find out the answers to this, as usual, in my next blog.