The May scholastic event: missed chances and a couple of almost-scalps
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The May scholastic event: missed chances and a couple of almost-scalps


    It's a rather odd crowd. A strong, centralized group of players who run the gamut from 1400 to 2000 or even higher, and all around them smaller kids whose playing strength may still be in triple digits. I've been attending scholastic events for two years now, and they are rather unlike any other tournaments in the chess world. Outside of the top group, no one ever resigns, and the speed of play within the time control of 25 + 5 delay varies widely, with some taking less than three minutes on their clock, and some getting into deep time trouble and eventually losing on time due to the useless five-second delay.

    And it really is interesting how, in the process of making a tournament suited to all of the children, the creators of the format have helped some and hurt others. Many smaller kids have more time than they know what to do with and so the tournaments serve as an excellent chess initiation, while the strong players have been burned by the five-second delay many times. Often, the smaller kids play at exactly the same level in rapid chess as they would in slow chess and benefit from a five-second delay being super-easy to understand, but the top section becomes prone to botching endgames horribly, blundering in time trouble, and even losing on time.


There's probably a good reason for this quote. Rapid chess likely isn't nearly as bad for you as Kramnik says it is, it's just incredibly hard to play well.

    This format has been incredibly stressful for me in the past, and for good reason: you have zero time to recover from a blunder, a loss on time, or a botched endgame. But the time control has also lent to me getting incredible results against players up to 2100. Here's two games in which I almost caught two big fish.

    I finished with 2.5/4, having won my other two games. But even with only half a point to show for them, it was these two that really made my day. I hadn't lost to the 2150 in all of this scholastic chess year (+1-0=5), but I hadn't been able to touch the 1900, and this proved that I could play with and beat both of them and do it on a regular basis if I ironed out some of the kinks in my game.

    Intrinsic motivation. Gotta love it.