Adventures in New York City: Part 1
It has been a little fantasy of mine to live in New York City, for a quite a little while now. I decided to do it last month, during the December of 2015. Mostly, the desire was induced by the chess culture I’ve heard about in NYC. This will be the first of a series of blog posts about my adventure. Before I continue, a necessary selfie with ole Franky-boy, the great American chess legend.
Confirmed by FM Boris Privman when I got there, December isn’t really the greatest month for chess in NYC. However, I had a major reason for the choice of time: the Marshall Chess Club Championship. Unlike many of the chess clubs around the country, you have to qualify for the tournament, and you do so by either having a rating of 2200+ or placing in the top 10 of the Marshall Amateur Club Championship. The latter is a tall task for a player in the 1600’s, but they also give a wild card spot to the top U1900. That was the goal, namely, acquire the wild card spot or place. The other goal was to crack 1700 (USCF) and make a move toward 1800. I didn’t achieve either goal, but I was close in both. On top of that, the adventure was just fun, all around.
In the MCC Amateur Championship, I had a tricky situation pretty early. It was the first game of the tournament, and I had been playing very high quality chess prior to the tournament –despite the fact that the results have not been following to show for it. This was my position in the first game (Milliern, David 1625-Hu, William 2011):
I had spoken about this situation with my coach beforehand, and we had decided that, if I have a difficult time seeing a concrete plan that wins against an Expert in the first round, then I’d offer draw (Hu gladly accepted). The reason we came up with this strategy was that I would likely be facing a murderers’ row of Experts, given the field, if I won my first game. The hope was to come out of the first two rounds with 1.5/2.0, supposing I’d play someone in the 1800’s or 1900’s in the second round by drawing in the first. Winning in the first round against an Expert would likely pit me against a player 2100+ in second round, so, in all likelihood, that would be a lost opportunity for tournament points. In considering all of this, one should bear in mind that 2.5/5.0 will almost assuredly earn the wild card spot, and that turned out to be the bar for this particular year’s tournament.
As it turned out, I needed a full point in the final round of the tournament, in order to qualify. My opponent in the final round was rated 1897, so I was confronted with another dilemma: I had played the game into a seemingly drawn position, but another player seemed to have a won game, and would finish with 2.5/5.0. My opponent offered me a draw, but that would put me 2.0/5.0. I didn’t know how many rating points I would be losing by risking to push for a win, but I did it anyways. To give you a summary, refusing draws against higher rated players has not worked out well for me this year. I think I’m 0/5, or something like that, when refusing draw offers by stronger players, and things didn’t end any better for me at the MCC Amateur Championship. No shame, though; I came to qualify for the MCC Championship, so I risked a few points prayer and it didn’t work out. I think I gained two points from the tournament, rather than the 20-something if I had accepted the draw.