Doing Battle at the New York International
A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from the Marshall Chess Club about an upcoming tournament, the New York International. I wasn’t aware that anyone started holding this tournament again. As it turns out, I’m current holding Skype study/analysis sessions in a private group of strong players, in which we are going through the New York International 1924 games that have been annotated by Alekhine. I felt it irresistible to tie my chess career to a tournament which hosted so many great players, and was one of the strongest events in history. (Lasker won out over Alekhine and Capablanca, among others.) Well, I didn’t exactly play with the big guns: the tournament has been broken into to two sections, U2200 and 2000+, each playing on separate weekends, and I played in the U2200 held this last weekend. But still, it was a strong field and good competition.
Before getting to the tournament outcome, I was surprised to find I have a sizeable contingent of blog readers at the Marshall Chess Club. Even though my adventures in New York City lasted a month, I only had two or three people who introduced their self to me in December, whereas I had about a dozen and a half introduce and openly express readership of my blog. It was very cool. I was wondering how in the world some of my blog posts are approaching 3K reads. One person I met was Sophie, who was happy to be included in this, my NY International, blog post. (Sorry to others, who I took pictures with but forgot to ask permission to include in the post. Message me if you want our pic included.)
I had a great time chatting with Sophie (2012). She’s a really strong player who is underrated. She played a super interesting game against my friend, Bora Yagiz (2055), which ultimately ended in a draw. We hung around the Marshall after round 5 to chat about training methods and the upcoming World Open. Lots of fun.
The tournament turned out close to what I wanted, and definitely in the range of what I expected. Early on, I was on track to move my USCF rating over 1800, but I stalled out at the end in must-win games. My previous 8 or so performance ratings were in the 1800’s (4), 1900’s (3), and 2000+, and this one was 1850. That averages to 1921, even though I really consider this performance, in my mind, to be 1900-1930 since statistical evidence suggests NYC players are probably 50-80 points underrated. The tournament didn’t go as it should have, but I’d be a fool to complain in a serious tone about it, considering that I was desperate to break 1700 two months prior! The bad news is that I probably had an opportunity to draw against my good friend, Bora Yagiz, who jumped to 2075 at the end of this tournament, but I had some serious difficulty in meeting the control sensibly (15 moves to make in 12 minutes, and I’m very poor at rapid-like games); I was pawn up against a very savvy Mr. Hellner (1923), but could not make the control easily without wrecking my position, as the position was extremely sharp; and I missed a win against a floored 1600 because I was so happy to get a pawn back that I missed a game-winning intermezzo! Had these few minor things worked out in my favor, the performance would have been 2023, which is almost the same exact performance rating I had in Indianapolis about 45 days prior. It really seems I’ve all but made the jump to Expert strength, yet lack the supreme attentiveness required of the rating level, and so this rating went from the hypothetically possible 2023 to 1850. The same thing happened the week before at the Kentucky Open, where my winning position against a 2128 turned into a draw in a slap battle where both of us had very little time left –and a 2058 performance turned into an 1884 performance rating. I’m clicking on all cylinders, and I can’t be more thankful to hicetnunc, Chessmo, SilentKnighte5, Benedictine, IroZobel, rkjulian, and ThisisChesstiny for the teamwork put in, long study sessions, emotion support, information sharing, and collaborative input. Having great coaches is one kind of help, but a group of zealous and emotionally supportive peers, who are down in the trenches with you and available many hours of the day, provide a kind of help that is not to be paralleled.
Now for some chess. This is the position in which my opponent just played Ne5, which was a huge mistake. However, the narrative of the game was such that I (white) was relieved to see an opportunity in which I could get my pawn back with Bxb7. However, white has an intermezzo that is winning.
Any qualitative indicators of progress at the New York International? You bet! I’ve had serious troubles against A-Class players, particularly players in the 1900’s since the day before forever. In my experience, American A-Class players are opening obsessed, and, being a player who almost completely ignores openings preparation and theory, I’ve had problems with opening traps of various sorts and crushed positions against them. (I also believe their obsession with openings is why many of them sit in the A-Class for a couple of decades without improvement.) I have historically fared much better against Experts, because they are better players, but don’t as often have a storehouse of GM moves that obliterate me early. Actually, I have defeated a player as high as 2068(?), but never before had I beaten a player in the 1900’s. That came to pass in round 3 of the NY International. In just a month, my life time score of 10% against 1900’s jumped to 66% in the last three, and all three games were winning. One, against Williams, was drawn by virtue of my not feeling so well and lacking fight to close out –I should have gone for a walk, rested, and returned my mind to the game, since I had lots of time. The second draw was the one from the NY International, in which I was crunched by time. I include all three games in my recent run against 1900’s, rated: 1923, 1923, and 1906.
I get my next crack at 1800 --and my eyes now move to 1900-- at the World Open, where I'll be in the U2200 section. All in all, the NY International was worth the trip, lots of fun, and so exciting, considering my rating was dancing around 1800 most of the tournament.