Fred Thompson 2015

Jul 3, 2015, 8:20 PM |
A couple weeks ago, I played in the Fred Thompson Memorial tournament. It was four rounds, G/60+d5. It was was fun to travel to Pittsburgh and play chess.
I traveled with my little brother, my dad, and a friend from college.
Some things that you should know and be aware of while reading this:
  1. I don't like weak handshakes. People don't know how to shake your hand anymore. They do one of three things: they give you the "dead fish" or limp hand handshake, or the "I don't really want to touch your hand", were they let you touch your fingers before pulling their hand away. Or, maybe they will give a firm handshake. I will refer to these as type I, type II, and type III, respectively. I don't think that people are being intentionally disrespectful, but I do think that it is an important part of good sportmanship.
  2. I only drink coffee on Sunday mornings a few over occassions. I don't drink caffeine often as a general rule. I broke tradition for this tournament.
  3. I get in time trouble in even the longest of over-the-board games.
All of these are important to remember. So keep that in mind.
This is my first game. I was rather tired, despite the coffee. It was rather interesting, playing a game and not comprehending what was going on for the first half. Furthermore, it was the first of the weak handshakes (type I) I recieve that day. Okay, well I'm not that annoyed by the handshake. But he played better than me, and thus deserved his win. I never really got into time trouble, just a losing position.
My second round I was playing Jeffrey Schragin. I have played him before, and won with the Gruenfeld defense. He was not having any of that. He played a Reti and I replied with a "I don't know what I am doing" defense. He also was not having anything to do with my hand (type II). I was in serious time trouble by the end of the game. 
After two rounds, with two losses, it was time to get serious. I resorted to drastic measures. I needed to wake up. I used a performace enhancing drug, i.e., caffeine. Apparently, a can of Mountain Dew has 54 mg of caffeine (coke has 34 mg). 
In the following rounds, I moved from playing adults to playing kids. They get a partial pass on handshakes. However, playing kids can be troublesome. In Star Wars, two quotes come to mind: "There's always a bigger fish" and "let the wookiee win." Neither of these are true in chess. Generally speaking, there is always a smaller "fish" who can beat you and make you feel pitiful. Also, you get no credit for beating someone smaller than you. The only way to win is if you can do it convincingly so that you can say that the kid learned a lesson by playing you.
I don't know if William Wang learned anything by playing me, but if he did, I hope he learned patience. He was moving too fast. It is amazing how one more minute can change a chess game so much. Not thinking about a simple error cost him the game.
Being more awake seemed to help me. Maybe he should have resigned sooner, but it is hard to give up a game so early.
My final game was against Maxim Yaskolko. He is about 10, I think, and in the 1800s. As I said before, there is always a smaller fish. It is rather intimidating to play him, but I figured I could try the French defense and see what happened. I had spent time learning it with my college room-mate, so I figured I should try it in an actually tournament.
It worked! And the time trouble curse was reversed. He spent too much time realizing that he was in trouble and not enough on getting out of it. I hope Maxim will be more careful about puting his king on that diagonal, along with the g5 pawn push.
I finished the tournament with 2 wins, 2 losses. II left the tournament thinking that I did not win money. A few days later, I got a check in the mail from them proving me wrong.
My rating when up to 1770, a personal best and tied with my dad's rating. I hope to reach 1800 by the end of the summer.
The best part was that all my games were fun. The first two were hard, but I enjoyed trying to make the games interesting for as long as I could. My last two games gave me a chance to win. I felt as though my last game was the best I played in the tournament. I built up a slight advantage and was able to win.
Comments and questions on the games are welcome and encouraged.