Adventures in New York City: Part 2, Wrecking the Experts Edition
My close friend, handle chessmo, has recently done a blog on his battles with Experts from the previous year, so I thought it would be good for me to do the same. I’m particularly happy he did a blog post on Experts, and not on A-Class players, because I have bizarrely good results against players 2000-2099 (21.9%, if you include blitz) and abysmal results historically against A-Class players (12.9%). I figured, given the number of Experts I played, this might make for an interesting topic in my series of adventures in New York City.
The odd thing about chess in the city, which led me to playing so many strong players, is that player pools in NYC seem to natural self-separate. For example, I can’t tell you how often I would walk into a tournament room, not knowing what to expect as far as opponents, and was shocked at the distinct character of the field on the given day. I don’t want to say “rare,” but it is not usual to chance upon many U1700 ADULT(!) players in most tournaments. In fact, the only time I came across lots of adult U1700 players was in the long tournament games, on game per night, held weekly. Walk in on a Saturday G/60 tournament U1800 at the Marshall, and you will probably be the only adult, as I was. If I were of a more normal mentality (philosophers tend to be weirdos, even in terms of general mental disposition), I probably would have felt odd about playing with a bunch of eleven-year olds. However, I came to smash them just the same. Anyhow, it is clear that the upward mobility of younger players, despite not taking the game very seriously (in terms of study and big-picture ambition), ensures that most adults only lose points in tournaments with a diverse population. For example, a large number of NYC players I tracked would gain 100-150 points a pop in regional tournaments, only to return to NYC and dump all their points back, and it was mostly to kids or people who lost a ton of points to kids. The choices, then, for an adult U1700 is: 1) play where it is too late for most youths of similar rating to play, i.e., until midnight on a weekday, or 2) in a tournament that is slightly more serious, in which the field won’t care too much about underrated kids, because the field can still generally beat them, i.e., a field in which you have almost exclusively players 2100+, or 3) play in a non-exclusively youth tournament, which happened be, by happenstance, dominated by youths, and dump a large number of points quickly. It’s sort of like watching self-organizing criticality, but the pools you get were rarely the diverse pools you see at CCA tournaments or the usual club tournament, and often either 1), super strong players (2100-2500), 2) us old fogies (i.e., players over 25) under 1800, or 3) tournaments that turned into a youth tournament. Anyways, that’s what I see as the explanation for how I ran into so much hard competition.
This was the position I arrived at as black, with black to move, in a blitz game against Mauricio Camejo (2081). There might be a minor inaccuracy in the position, because I’m recalling from a month ago, but the material is, I think, correct, and the motif available to black is correct. I had just forced the Q’s off the board, satisfactorily halting a rather brutal attack.
Bc3++ wins the game. This was my second big score of the night. My first was as white in the Sicilian against Dore Sheppard (2045). I ended up stealing a draw in this position, with white to move. Black simply didn’t maintain awareness of white’s intention to set up a drawn position. Again, the position is approximately correct. I was down significant material.
The opponent took the draw in a very gentlemanly fashion, which is a bit unusual for me, considering the sting of the rating difference.
The first full game I’ll share is from the first round of the Marshall Amateur Championship. The game was against William Hu (2011).
Ultimately, I decided to offer a draw, because I needed a particular score (2.5 has historically been the necessary score) to qualify for wild card spot for the Marshall Championship. I had been playing so well (e.g., 1900+ performance at the Kings Island Open) that I and my coach thought drawing against an Expert in the first round would set me up against an A-Class player, potentially maximizing my score after the first two rounds. I don’t regret the decision; the objective was qualifying, not maximizing my rating outcome. Besides, I wasn’t finding the right plan to win the game against Hu. Maybe I had, if I was committed to winning the game: I think the winning plan was, not putting pressure on the center, though that may have worked, but to use the b-file to attack the K directly.
I had some (i.e., many) heartbreakers, some of which were my fault, some the time control’s fault. Unfortunately, much of the tough competition I faced was at my worst time control. Despite the fact that I am competent in blitz and longer games (G/40+, I’d say), I am a nervous disaster at G/25. Part of it is that I can’t pace myself properly, at all. I either blitz moves or take way too long. In the following position, I was ahead on time against Natan Galant (2065), and I mean big time. He had one second with a five second delay remaining, and I had ten minutes.
What my move was, is not important. What’s important is that I allowed Qg5. Oh well.
I had a number of other games that were winning or with some major advantage that I lost, especially at the Brooklyn Strategist tournament –I highly recommend playing in their weekly tournament, if you are around–, such as being up the exchange against Danny Feng (2103, and winner of the Empire City U2200) before losing on time; and being a pawn up in the ending against NM Sam Barsky when I moved my N from the defense of a crucial square, otherwise I was probably won. All of these tragedies occurred at G/25, so I am seeking out quick tournaments (i.e., rapid, e.g., G/10 or G/15) for practice this year, to see if I can’t get some sense of the pace of that control. Feeling flabbergasted by the control before the clock even begins is a big psychological problem to overcome, especially against strong players.