King Blunders, Late for a Match and Our new President! - 2017 South Dakota Teams Chess Championship
Hello again reader! Let me just break the fourth wall real quick to let you know that you need to go outside for a bit and enjoy the blue sky that is above you. Unless you live where I do and it rains like no other every single day Anyways I would like to inform you of my 3rd and most recent tournament! It actually finished a few days ago but it was a great experience and the most fun I've had at one yet! Anyways if you haven't met me before or do not know of me, my name is Taylor Wolff. I'm 16 and from the most popular chess state in the Union! (lol) Anyways let me explain some backstory about this tournament before I dive straight in. I had been looking forward to this tournament for a little while, after my now friend Josiah "The Country Singer" Jorenby had invited me through the Chess.com daily chess platform. SIDE NOTE: A funny story is that I originally thought this guy was a country singer because of his name and his avatar! - I was excited to participate in this tournament and couldn't wait! The tournament was in our state capitol Pierre. After a decent drive we got there and I was ecstatic! Me and my grandfather checked into our hotel and were straight off to the tournament! I remember getting there and not being very nervous but much more excited! My last tournament was all the way back in May and I had goal to set out and prove my new growth in the game. Anyways, after meeting Josiah and his sister Destiny I got ready to play soon after! Our team for the tournament consisted of me, Destiny Jorenby, Adron Ung, and Zachary Kovach! I was to play 3rd board. So let's jump into my first game! I played black against Jill Likens, I honestly don't know much about her, or any SD players to be honest. But I knew right out of the gate that she was going to play a very passive and positional game. My strategy going into the game? Well it wasn't what I like to call "Wannabe Tal" where one will aimlessly through pieces into an aggressive position without a purpose and soon realize their soon mortality. Nor was it my Chess.com style of trying to play the most analytical move possible, focus on one idea and blunder both knights along the way. No, instead it was more of a passive style, waiting for her to move before me, which was kind of funny because we both played that way and it turned into a sort of funny game. (On the grounds of both of our passiveness) Sadly my annotations were so awfully recorded that the game isn't even loadable past the 12th move but I will display to you the opening which might provide you with an idea of the game. (I play black)
I did end up winning the game and secured the first point for our team! I felt good after the game because not only did I beat someone who was higher rated than me but I had also completed my first game successfully and without any major blunders! (Maybe a small positional one). It was success in my eyes. I hadn't also realized too though that the game had lasted nearly 2 hours. The longest I had ever played. I was sort of tired but not exhausted. I knew this might be a challenge in my next game. BUT FIRST LET'S GO EAT! I got a chance to really meet my team members and another whom was on Josiah's team. They were all nice, we went and got some fast food and returned to the center. This may seem like a very small detail but it was fun after a long game to just drive and get something to eat, along with meeting new people! We returned and waited for a while until the next matches started up. My next opponent was David Bergen! I didn't look at my opponent's ratings before hand in order to prevent myself from becoming worked up. I had white pieces and I was ready to go This time my plan was to play the best move, period! That may seem odd but sometimes I feel the best move isn't the right move...if that makes any sense. We played a solid opening, I ended up being a pawn up and then we transitioned to and endgame pretty smoothly, And I actually got into a position that I thought at the time was winning! My heart was pounding, I was exhausted but also energized, Nervous but also excited. Worried but also confident. I hate to speak about drugs but I see how people become addicted to chess like it's a drug! (Remember Kids Do Chess Not Drugs). The thrill and excitement is great, I have 13 minutes on my clock and am in full focus mode, I remembered seeing some older spectators whom I assumed were teammates keep walking by our game. Not that this is extraordinary in and by itself but I felt a little bit special that they were. After some play we reach this position....
It's my move! I'm looking to grab the win.....but this is difficult...I can calculate decently but for some reason the board felt hazy. The exhaustion was setting in and I was looking at variation that didn't work. Not only that I felt like my king was way to overworked and that there was no way for him to manage the g AND h pawns.....So I tried to handle both at the same time and allow flexibility for my king!...........but it backfired, chess doesn't work like that. Squares are crucial, more crucial then space, and what I was tried to gain was space, mobility for my king, I made a critical mistake. I was trying to go for the win in a fundamentally drawn position.....I played.....
Kf5....a complete blunder! I didn't even see the blunder for minutes after the move, I already explained to you the idea. But the board doesn't care about "Ideas" it cares about good moves. And well, this was an awful, awful move. I didn't see the simple move...
I was devastated....Not after I found the move, but after he played it. I had gone from what appeared to be a solid winning position to a complete loss. I should have resigned here....But I figured why not play on and soon resigned. By simply capturing the h pawn in this variation I could have promoted and a draw would have followed soon after most likely. (From both of us promoting to Queens)
This was a tough loss, not because of the fact that it was a loss, but because it was due to one blunder. I have blundered online before in such a way. But never in a tournament, to be brutally honest this was really really disappointing to me. I was exhausted and decided to go back to the hotel, me and my grandfather talked about it on the way back and I had such a low view of chess in that conversation, like it was the game's fault. But this seemed to be my coping mechanism, but after having a good dinner and returning to my room I had decided to look up his rating. It was nearly 1500....Which was decently high for me, It made me feel better, I had to reconsider this loss and put it into perspective. I thought about my post I had written earlier this summer discussing my journey in chess so far and what I had learned about the game and the experiences I had experienced. One thing that I remembered about those struggles were that I had 2 things. Perseverance & Self-Criticism. Both were equally important and I put the situation into the frame of that. Perseverance - I had studied hard and was knocked down hard by only scoring 1.5/5 in my first tournament, playing an embarrassing game against another state junior, and losing to a classmate that same tournament. But I didn't quit, I began to study, play and analyze as much as I could and became better, fast. And Self-Criticism - I'll be the first to say that I was trash compared to many other players in my city even, I didn't focus during the game enough and most importantly I had just made an idiotic blunder! What I did was idiotic and it shouldn't happen! I made a mistake and I have to admit that. With those two things I looked through a new lens and slept well that night. (NOTE: I have the full game posted at the bottom of this post if you are interested to see the full game played out)
It's day 2, I get up and prepare for the long day ahead. I get there and jump head first into my game. This time it was against a guy named Matt, he seemed very nice and his son was there too, which may or may not have intimidated me a bit. I played a solid game, built a strong attack on his King's side. Some browse by our game and look, I then continue playing on and BAM! he play's a great queens move.....I was lost for words. I spent most likley half of my time thinking after this move. It was unexpected, great and highly tactical yet simple. The move guaranteed him a piece. I can't completely explain it (and or show it because of my lack of pgn, I am so bad at recording games). But it rattled me....I thought back to the day before of which I had attempted to stay away from...but it wandered back in my mind. After accepting the loss I fought on, we exchanged Queens and I gained back the piece. A few moves later and were in the endgame, and I have a Bishop compared to his 5 pawns and my 3. I played a bit more expecting an easy win and soon his pawn majority becomes daunting. I make awful bishop moves that I realized after and soon I was in a completely locked down position. It all came down to my king......what square....I blundered again....
The move made it so black would simply have to keep pushing one of his pawns and I would have no choice but to trade my bishop for and then simply he could win with his pawn majority. I felt constricted and soon resigned after a few more moves. This didn't feel as bad but it still felt harsh. I reorganized myself and went to the waiting room. There I calmed down and eventually our team went to get something to eat! This is a good time to talk more about my teammates and not just my chess metal breakdowns! First off that morning my new chess friend Josiah Jorenby was elected the new President of the South Dakota Chess Association! This was a great honor and I look forward to what he bring to the table with the Association! This was an interesting tournament not only because of the games but also because I met so many new people who also cared about the game! It would take all day to talk about everyone I met but I'll give a broad way to explain them all "Yeah" - Wait that doesn't make sense? How about "How about" No....ahh yes! "Nice and Intelligent" There we go. Also they were all attendees of SDSU (Unless I got that wrong) a college that I think highly of one that my aunt has graduated from! Anyways we decide to go eat at a good restaurant, and no don't worry i'm not going to turn this into a restaurant review post.
This was nice because, besides the fact that I got to eat after having no breakfast and playing for 2 hours, I also got have lunch and talk about chess! Something I normally don't get to do because of very people like chess here! After some time we actually were late for our next match!! We had to hurry and we did. I joked that in a way we were just fashionably late! I got in and the clock was started, I played black and I was ready to play. Not sure why but it was my game!! I sat down (After grabbing a scoresheet) and played my move, The Sicilian Defense! He remarked something about how the youth liked to play brilliant openings and I found that somehow funny and also a compliment The game was exciting. I know that if I were higher rated that game would have been more open but I didn't feel comfortable playing that way. It backfired though as I had to move my king eventually in order to open up my cramped position and to not lose material. It worked and eventually I began to gain a small space advantage. Soon I found a weakness in my position with no real way to fix it. He didn't find it and we reached an endgame that favored me. I was happy and took it to my advantage. Eventually converting a win. I felt redeemed!! The game had lasted a long amount of time but I didn't feel tired afterwards at all. A second wind had come upon me and I felt redeemed! The two losses felt small because I had finished the tournament with 2/4. Which to some may seem poor, but for it being my 3rd Tournament. And compared to 1.5/5 it was a success! I stayed after and eventually the awards were handed out and pictures were taken. Josiah's team got 1st place overall and Josiah got 1st place for 1st board overall and so open congratulations! Also our team got 1st place for reserves (Team rated under 1400!)
*NOTE the guy on the left is Kaveen Jaymanna a team member of Josiah and also highly talented!
So what did this tournament teach me? Well three main things
1. Losses don't define YOU - This is something I discussed deeper earlier and even in my other post, but it still was a defining thing and idea I have to reiterate. Those two blunders weren't me. They were moves. games aren't me, Chess isn't me, I'm me.
2. Hey other people like chess! - This may seem odd but it's true! Up until then I had really one chess friendo (Hey Noah if your reading this ) It showed me a more human and social side to chess. And plus I made some new friends! Who doesn't like new friends??
3. Look at what YOU have achieved, and work from that! - In our modern day culture we seem to be set on achieving everything as fast as possible with NO mistakes, and while yes I have my fairshare of goals and ambitions, I still have to look back and see what I have achieved! A couple months ago I was sitting in my room staring at a wall and listening to Grouplove on replay not knowing what to use my time for! Having no idea about how wonderful this game was, or even really what this games was
In conclusion it was a great tournament with great people and great games! Yes I said great games because I learned from my terribly played games. But they still had great value in terms of learning! I'm glad to have participated in this event and hope to participate in many more in the near future! (Also my rating went past 1000 and should adjust more to my real strength )
P.S Remember kids do Chess not drugs! - Also if you enjoyed please leave a comment letting me know your thoughts, Thanks!
Photo form Round 2 against David.
If you would like to read about my chess journey so far (Excluding this tournament) you can read my blog post here!