Moving, Internet, Copperstate, ChessTV
At the beginning of June I moved to a new house. Of course this involved some heavy lifting and heavy cleaning. It also meant... signing up for new internet service. On which I am now waiting and waiting. Luckily a big chunk of the wait coincided with the Copperstate International in Phoenix.
I had a blast over there, and played 9 interesting chess games. Before I share some of them with you, permit me a few thank you's:
Thanks to IM Rensch for all his hard work putting this tournament together and giving lots of American masters a chance to play in a very strong tournament, without massive travel. A second thank you for going the extra distance to also make it the most "taken-care-of" experience I have ever witnessed at a tournament, edging out some European tournaments, and blowing out everything I have ever seen in the U.S. (note that I have never visited the new St. Louis Chess Club).
Thanks to John LaLonde (who also sponsors the event) for being one of the nicest-to-strangers men I've ever met (obviously also very nice to people he knows). He was at the site every day, asking the players how they were doing, how they liked everything, whether they had any other needs; and then taking care of all kinds of things.
Thanks to Shauna for her work with logistics, providing food, giving us rides, and for bringing the kids over to play with me :-)
Thanks to Mr. Haskell for his work as arbiter, being on top of all rules issues so that Danny could be confident about that aspect.
Thanks to GMs Yermolinsky and Amanov for discussing chess with me at Danny's house, and offering advice. Thanks to GM Dzindzichashvili for calling me up at an important point in the tournament with useful advice. And thanks to Sam and Kayden for joking around with me and making the tournament more fun.
Round 1: black vs the youngest and lowest-rated participant, 12 year-old Daniel Gurevich! This may have been the least interesting game to me, as it was not all that dramatic, or suspenseful for me, I could predict most of the moves and the way the game was going-- but such games are often very instructive, as they show a very clear line of play and conversion of an advantage.
More games coming soon! I'll try to add another 1 or 2 each day this week.
By the way, my current internet situation is the reason for the lack of chess.com/tv broadcasts. It is still not available at home, and ironically, the internet connection at the new chess.com office is also not yet strong enough to do broadcasts from there. Really a pity with some exciting chess going on: I would have loved to do a wrap-up of the Copperstate; to do my usual YGA show; to cover the Poikovsky tournament, or the Bazna Event, or Capablanca Memorial. Danny and I also have come up with some new shows. But we'll all have to wait in similar suspense for the green light to come on on my home's wireless router.
Keeping your Head (rd. 2)
Many people lose their cool when they suffer a reversal. Some completely lose their mind. Personally, I've noticed in the past when I used to play more online blitz that if I lost a game, I would tend to play more aggressively the next game. This would even happen in tournaments. It's like I'm so upset about losing, that I want to bury that emotional memory under a win as soon as possible, and so I play some hyper-aggressive way intended for immediate annihilation. Problem is that this often meant playing objectively terrible openings in my blood-rage.
Knowing this about myself, I immediately began preparing for the second round after losing that first round game. I'm not sure if I was in danger of losing my mind this time. I've lost to enough little kids of late, that it's becoming less of a surprise. On the one hand that might mean I can take it more in stride, and know that I can still have a fun week and a good tournament (there was a Miami Open where I lost to a 1900ish rated little kid in the first round, then won two exciting games against tough opponents later in the tournament, and found myself on a top board in the last round). On the other hand, you never know when the bad results will beat you down to the point where you suddenly overflow with pain and go psycho.
In any case, I was deciding how to play in round 2, and I decided to avoid sharp play. To purposely aim for a slow positional game, win it in the endgame. In this way, from the very first move, I would expect a long struggle, and hopefully this would stifle the "cover over my pain asap" instinct. So I sat down, played d4 quickly and...
Oh no! What was I to do? The Dutch Defense does not have my highest respect, and consequently, the only line I had learned or employed against it in the past 8 years or more was the very aggressive 2.Nc3-- a move which essentially aims at absolute refutation. Well, I knew white could play c4 and develop fairly reasonably, with a bit of a space advantage, and probably a kingside fianchettoe with g3. But I really would be poorly prepared, unless she played the Stonewall or Leningrad. Now that I am writing this, I suddenly realize those are by far the most probably Dutch variations-- what was I afraid of? Be that as it may, I reluctantly played the move I knew, only to be confronted by...
Oh my goodness. What is this? With the "normal" 3...Nf6 4.Bxf6 exf6 we could have returned to a positional and maneuvering game, which would have totally fit the bill. But what was I to do against this strange move? Play Bf4 which seemed ok, or play Bh4 offering a piece sacrifice, but dissuading Nf6, and seemingly more principled. My game plan was now out the window...
And so, I "got on the board" with my first point. Tomorrow, stay tuned for round 3, "A New Opening?"