The Will to Win
After a strong day on Saturday in the Spokane City Championship Contenders, I failed to put forth the energy needed to win on Sunday. I played with more energy and fewer egregious errors than had been my norm a few years ago after a late Saturday night. During weekend Swiss events I usually take a bye round three. Instead of starting a game at 7:00 pm that may last four hours, I'm home eating dinner with my wife, watching a movie, enjoying a whiskey or our spa. During the Contenders tournament, I must play Saturday night.
The game with Ryan on Saturday night lasted 67 moves and went 3:50 (nearly four hours). I got to bed after midnight and was awake again at my usual 5:30am. At 9:00am, I played John. We knew at the start of the game (actually the night before) that the winner of our game would be playing FM David Sprenkle in the City Championship. John, last year's challenger, expected to be the one but he had to get past me. John finished law school this spring, took the bar exam a few weeks ago, and is shaking off the rust of not playing. He has another few weeks of vacation before beginning his job as a law clerk.
My opening choice--played on a whim and because Sprenkle plays it--led me into some problems. Either I solved these problems, or more likely, John missed a stronger continuation. After some tense moments and strong moves I gained the advantage, but was it enough?
At move twenty, John offered a draw. I had to think about it. Can I win this position against a determined opponent that had more sleep than me? If I win, how will I do against Sprenkle? When I played Sprenkle two years ago I spent more than twenty hours preparing White, and quite a few hours preparing Black as well. This week, I would have a little bit of time Thursday, but not before. John has all week.
I expected to win the last round against Dave Griffin who had been on a losing streak. He was the lowest rated player, and the only upsets so far in the tournament had been Loyd's draw with Nikolay and my draw with John. I also expected John to beat Loyd. If we both won in the last round, we had to play a series of rapid games: until someone has three points.
The last round added two more upset draws to the tournament cross-table as the two weakest players drew the two strongest.