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The Ron Simpson Memorial recap...

The Ron Simpson Memorial recap...

Mar 31, 2014, 8:58 PM 0

A few thoughts on this weekend's tournament. It pains me to say this, but a year ago, I fell into a trap and it was only revealed to me this weekend. The trap of status. The name of this tournament has changed and I love the fact that it has been memorialized in honor of one of our local greats. I have absolutely nothing against the name change, but in my mind this will always, sort of, be "The Big Enchilada". It was in this same tournament last year that I achieved a Class A rating for the 2nd time. Also, this series has seen my most successful endeavors as far as tournaments go. In fact, I managed to finish 2nd or 3rd in all three of them. Even when the section was switched over to U1900 in the 3rd Enchilada, I still managed 3.5 of 5 and 3rd place as well as the a fore mentioned Class A rating. It's a tough thing to admit, but the success went to my head. I began to wonder if I could actually make a run at 1900, or even expert. And yes, over the past 2 months especially, when I had any extra time, it was spent studying, reading and drilling. Anyway, in the last 2 tournaments, I have been quite thoroughly humbled. Worst of it all, I lost sight of why I play this game...

What is most interesting about this particular tournament is the difference in what most would consider luck. I've made no secret about some of my narrow escapes in the first 3 tournaments. In my very first Enchilada game, I survived a lost middlegame by complicating the position and watching my opponent miscalculate. Then there was my 7 move win in Round 2 of the 2nd Enchilada. The 2nd also saw my most dramatic escape when, in round 5, I found myself down an exchange and 2 pawns and made one final, somewhat transparent mate threat, which my opponent missed. A mistake that cost him (and earned me) over $300. In the 3rd one, I survived a bad sacrifice in round 1, watched my 3rd round opponent leave a knight en prix in a winning endgame, watched another opponent fail to complete a winning endgame and hand me a draw in round 4 and caught another miniature and quick game in round 5 when my opponent completely misplayed the French Defense. Well...I got NONE of that this weekend, in fact, I gave back some of the breaks I have chronicled here.

So out of all the previous streaks and things I had going for me entering this tournament, I only have two remaining. I have still not lost on Sunday and I have only lost 1 game in each of the four tournaments (+13 =3 -4 overall). That by virtue of 2 draws. One that I should have one, but didn't having made several inferior moves in time pressure. The other came from, essentially, an unfortunate pairing. You can tell a lot about a players "strength of schedule" by how his opponents handle the rest of their games. In the first three tournaments, my opponents pretty consistently fell off after playing me, indicating they simply weren't playing well that weekend. Not this time around...my 5 opponents went +12 =4 -8, all finishing 2.5 (even) or better and gained a combined 307 rating points. My final round opponent had a pre-rating that was over 100 points greater than his supplement rating (large rating gain within a very short period of time). I was actually pretty lucky to get a draw in that game.

So in the end, I overworked myself studying for nothing. Nothing of any importance anyway. In the end I have to ask what is actually important. What would chasing titles ever really get me, and is it worth killing myself studying to achieve it? Even the money I win at these things...in the end, does it really matter? It is nice to get an extra bill or two paid off, but ultimately, it's not really the best ROI. I should study and I should play, but I shouldn't obsess like I have been. What I take away from this tournament is the fact that I need to get back to what is important. I need to get back to where I was when I started playing again in '08. Just going out, having a good time and reconnecting with old friends. And most important of all (and I was reminded of this again today when I ran my chess class) using my talent to encourage and better my students and my own kids.

One thing in closing...I would like to congratulate my cousin Phillip. Not only did he take a share of 5th, but he also gained over 50 rating points and beat me in round 2. I didn't play well in that game, but he's clearly made some wonderful progress as a player and if he keeps playing, I think he will, at the very least, join me in the upper 1700's/low 1800's. I eagerly await our next match...

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