Adventures in New York City: Part 3, The Most Overrated Player in NYC
There are a great many oddities that one encounters in the city –the larger the city, the greater and more numerous its oddities. For example, on the coldest day of my trip, which was within the first few days of December when I first arrived in New York City –it was maybe in the 30’s briefly–, I saw a sexagenarian(?) man running in a speedo with nothing else but a pair bicycling shoes. Rationality suggests either he was training for a triathlons, commuting from work, or combining the two, but if I learned one thing during my stay it is that the city must be holding rationality in reserve for later use, in many cases. Perhaps, this is one instance. Another oddity is the most overrated chess player in New York. I chanced upon her when she (in the late teens) was getting wrecked by a mid-level Expert. Hardly interested, I nearly pulled away, but then the Expert offered a draw. “What? What!,” I said to myself. I hadn’t really looked at her before this, but then I noticed what the matter was: she was endowed and wearing a sheer cotton shirt. Scratching my head, with no lack of cynicism, I could only wonder whether Duchamp won his game against Eve Babitz.
I ended up playing this person, and, having observed a number of very similar and worse instances, I concluded beforehand that I had an excellent chance at some free points. Had you seen some of the positions she received draws in, you would have thought you were looking at games played by the colluding Russians of Curacao of ’62, who buffaloed Fischer. Speaking of “worse instances,” I saw one poor son of gun, failrly high rated, who may not have looked at the pieces once over the six hours in his game with her. He lost. You know, Heisman says you lose 400+ points of strength when you don’t put the fullest into every move, and I’m sure that playing effectively blindfolded, so far as looking at the board, adds to that number. Well, after my game with her and having refused a deluge of draw offers (in winning positions), the game was drawn. I remarked on her good play in salvaging the draw (I had a B, N, and P vs a R and had been thrashing her with tactics and initiative the whole game) and playing so well defensively –certainly not in earnest, which is my modus operandi with strangers… my wife calls it “being kind.” What I found out after the game, and primary reason for this blog post, is that she’s a nasty, ill-willed human being. (Actually, she’s the rudest person I’ve ever encountered in a civil society.) After my remark, she snarled as her nostrils flared and demanded, “Where? Where were YOU better?” I was going to ask whether she could evaluate positions with any reliability, half in joking, but I sensed she might be joking (and wasn’t); besides, I knew the answer, based on the moves she played. She very quickly shook her head with irate agitation looking at the board with wide eyes, histrionics abound, as if she couldn’t see anything impressive or anything to have been worried about, as if she were in control the whole game. She asked repeatedly in succession, “Where?!,” with all the venom of a snake. I wanted to take this moment to answer that question from my game against the most overrated player in New York. And please note, my eyes never left the board.
This is the first position in which I am better. Black to move. Lots of sensible moves. Can you guess which sub-optimal move was played?
How strong do you think a player is who chose Bxf3? 1200? 1400, tops? Bxf3 is probably a hard move to find for most players above 1400 USCF, I’m guessing. As soon as I saw this unexpected move, it reinforced my pre-game conclusion, so I began playing ultra-aggressively.
I maintained my advantage up to this next critical position with black to move. Can you find a genius move for black? (Not e5, as that would be an actual good move.)
If you cringed and said, “she played Qxb2,” you’re right. Ew.
If you are wondering how in the world this game was ultimately drawn, bear in mind that this game was played in my worst time control, so I’m basically playing panicked constantly, even on move one. In the game, because of nerves, I accidentally touched a piece I didn’t intend to (the B on e3), giving the most overrated player in NY the exchange(!), arriving in the following Morphy-esque position. This is my element: extreme material imbalances, a world of initiative, and an opponent with discombobulated pieces and lack of development. White to move.
The quiet Morphy-esque, properly timed O-O was played here. It is probably the quiet moves, like Nc3 in the game against the consultants, that I appreciate from Morphy the most: every move aggressive, then a quiet, sometimes developing, move is played, as if to sound the calm before the storm. Here was my beautiful storm. White to move and win.
Sadly, the time control put me under so much pressure, and I felt win on the brink, that I wasn’t sure whether my spidey senses were trying to tell me that this move was the win or that I was a preparatory move away. I missed Be5 in the position above, but I saw it immediately after I made my move, and the opportunity disappeared. A moment of justice lost, and the most overrated player in NYC escaped with only minor rating damage. O, the inconstancy of Caissa!
The rest of the game can hardly be interest: I used my dynamic advantage to realize a material advantage of a N, B, and P versus a R in an ending, in which my opponent sac’d the R on the pawn. Not being able to mate with the minors in the few seconds left, I declared it drawn.
If ever you encounter the most overrated player in New York, look not at the Medusa, but keep your eyes on the board and take her unearned points. That’s what the scholastic players rated 1200 do when taking her points.