Is it Okay to Play?

GM KaydenTroff
Apr 7, 2011, 5:33 PM |

“It’s Groundhog day…...again.” (Name the movie)


What none of you realize is that I have already written this entire blog before, last Monday in fact.  I was just finishing it up and wanted to check something on Chessbase from one of the games (actually I was trying to make sure that I was spelling Blumenfeld right—important stuff you know).  I closed out what I thought was Chessbase and somehow closed out my blog too which I hadn’t saved yet Cry (won't do that again!).  My mom tried to recover it for me, but since I was writing it on Word 2003, there was no auto save option.  I’ll be honest with you.  Writing blogs is not always my favorite thing because it takes me a long time to make sure it sounds right, but writing them twice……definitely not my idea of fun which I guess is why it is now Thursday Smile.


So here is my second attempt at my blog (no comments if you think I should have gone for a third or fourth attempt):


At the end of March was the Utah Jr. High School Chess Championships.  Now before we continue I want to make note of one thing and please don’t go somewhere else, because I will get to the actual story.  Unlike California, in Utah you can’t play up.  You can’t play in the High School Chess Championships until you are actually in High School.  So like Jr. High School kids can’t play in the HSCC or  4th graders can’t play in the JHSCC.  In California, anybody can play in the high school except those who are no longer in high school (the “older” people).  Hopefully that makes sense because I think I am allergic to giving a really good explanation (inside joke).  If anybody that lives in California knows what in the world I am talking about, be my guest and commentSmile.


So back to the UJHSCC being at the end of March.  Now you are probably wondering: did I play or did I not?  Well, yes I did!  Now another question that may arise is, “Why?”  Looking at the facts like I was around 600 rating points higher than the 2nd highest player, and I don’t play in the Utah tournaments very much anymore and those I do play are USCF tournaments and this was Scholastic (I say that with no disrespect to anybody).   But the truth is, I can imagine many people think I really should be focusing on more important stuff for my Chess.  I can give you several reasons… no I’ll give you plain and simple facts:


First of all, my dad was in charge of it this year, and my mom is in charge of it next year.  So they made an agreement to split the work for the two years.  My dad doing the online mailing back and forth, organizing it, doing (not 100% sure exactly what) umm… trophies, round times I would guess… and… etc.  My mom was helping with registration and results, bringing and setting up boards (yes pieces too), running the coaches meeting, and just general helping out at the tournament.  So basically, my brother Zachary (who also played in the UJHSCC) and I were going to help bring and set up boards so… there was a really good chance I would be there anyway, why not play?


Second of all, I have just started into a new level of intense tournaments, Norm Tournaments and Round Robins.  Norm tournaments…there are just really strong opponents there.  With round robins usually the pairings are already decided so everybody has A LOT more time to prepare.  Meaning you have to prepare a lot more, because there is a VERY good chance if your opponent is prepared and you aren’t that they will get the advantage.  You just need to spend more time on chess in general (if you want to do your best in the tournament).  Also, every round is a very high level game against a high level opponent.  You don’t really have lower rated players to play in any of the games.


It is really nice to just play in a tournament for fun.  Tournaments are just very serious most of the time, and that seriousness has just upped big time (is upped a word?).  So, for me,  it is good to just play in a tournament for fun once in a whileJ.  It reminds me why I am doing all this serious chess stuff….that’s right, I love it!


Third of all, it may be true that I can play fun games over the internet and maybe just get someone to play some OTB games with me.  Fun games are replaceable, friends that you have had for a very long time aren’t really replaceable, I’m sorry you just can’t... so it was really nice to see some people I haven’t seen for a long while.


Those are my reasons… still not convinced… well I’m sorryFrown


The tournament was set up so that there were 3 rounds on Thursday along with the Blitz Championship Thursday night.  I didn’t really prepare for the first day, because I figured I should win my first three games and then anything I should be concerned about from the other top players I would probably see played against me in the Blitz.  I did though help my brother with his openings, because… he really hadn’t played for a while!  I showed him some solid “don’t have to know much theory” lines.  My brother and I both won our first three games without too much trouble.  Then anything I saw in the Blitz that I might slightly just want to know more about, I looked at.  It worked pretty wellJ. And by the way I did win the Blitz like I was expected to and my brother took second, I got 10/10 and he got 8/10.  Now the strange thing is how we never had to play each other.  I don’t know if they had team pairings on or… maybe it just worked out that way… I guess (in case you are wondering, my parents were not in charge of pairings—there was a TD in charge of that).


So on Friday, I figured as long as I was careful I should win all my games.  Plus, I figured if I won all my games that I might get the 2nd highest rated player (whose name is Harrison Unruh, by the way) last round with White. That way it would be less likely he could just play some evil drawish White opening against me Smile. 


Well 4th and 5th rounds for me went about as expected going by where our ratings were at.  My brother made a mistake in his 4th round game, but still luckily pulled it out and in the 5th game he played Harrison Unruh.  He got a good position and might have been winning at one point.  He got a drawish endgame, but unfortunately made a mistake and lost.  It was a good game.  My brother is only like 1200 standard, but when he actually decides to take his time (which has never been his favorite thing) he is probably 1500-1700, at least from what I’ve seen. 


Truthfully, I was really hoping my brother would draw or win, because him losing meant I had to play (not-according to my plans) Harrison Unruh the second to last round with white (that is he was white).  Which meant annoying opening opportunities!  I might have played the 3rd highest (Eric Hon), but he drew. 


Of course, Harrison had to go and play a solid White opening.  I did know some theory and ended playing it right except for one move which is played less often, I am not exactly sure what theory is there.  The less played move worked for me though because it let me break open the position and even led to me winning a pawn.  He did have compensation for the pawn though, some attacking points and two Bishops.  But he traded one of his Bishops for my Bishop (yeah it did weaken some of my squares) but without the Bishop to help take advantage of them, I never felt like he was able to take advantage.  After that we played a few more moves and I saw this move, thought about it, and played it only to overlook a very simple move.  I was forced to move my Knight back and it somehow worked out for me (meaning my mistake did).  He threatened my Knight and I was able to interfere his Rooks and just kind of make my position more solid.  He tried to pull the same thing on me (an interference), but unfortunately it didn’t quite work out, because I had some tactics.  After all the complications I was up an exchange and won the game.


I figured that was probably going to be my hardest game in the tournament just because it is logical--playing 2nd highest rated and he is White, it makes sense.  So next game, I was very confident.  I was playing Eric Hon (3rd highest rated player in the tournament) with White and unless the pairings go crazy it should be that way (which it was). 


He played the Blumenfeld and I wasn’t 100% sure, but I felt he played it wrong.  Of course, it actually wasn’t too bad and I would guess I PLAYED IT WRONG.  We ended up into a locked opposite-colored Bishop middlegame.  The thing I knew about opposite-colored middlegames is that the first person to get a good attack usually gets the advantage.  So first I decided to get my Bishop up there.  I would guess he missed what I was doing and thought I was doing something else because he moved into some tactics.  I was able to pin his Rook after getting a tempo on his other Rook.  I sacrificed a pawn to open it up and I didn’t take his Rook yet.  I was able to take advantage of his pinned Rook by just slowly putting more pressure on him.  Finally I took his Rook, but he was so open that I ended up getting his Queen for my Rook.  After that we played on for a while, but I had a sufficient material advantage to win.


It worked out for me and my brother won his last two games too.  I hope there are no claims that I didn’t deserve it.  Why? Well… I took the overall trophy (please don’t roll your eyes at me, let me finish) and I noticed that I beat all the grade winners.  Because the trophies went 1st Overall then they had different trophies going by what grade you were in:  9th, 8th, 7th, and 6th graders all got trophies separately and the only trophy they all played for together was the overall trophy.  I played and beat all the Grade Champions 6th-9th that won either outright or on tie breaks.  If you where wondering, my brother was the 9th-grade co-champion and together we took 6th place in the team championship with just the two of us on the team.


It was a good tournament! I did what I was expected to do, and I had a lot of fun.  It was great to see so many of the kids I have been playing chess with since 1st grade. Basically, it was just what I was hoping for.


Here is a puzzle from one of my online games: