This past Monday I played for the SF Mechanics in the USCL against the Arizona Scorpions. Here is the background for my matchup with David Adelberg.
Having lost that third game, I felt this game was a really big game for me. I took it very seriously and wanted desperately to win another game against this kid of whom I'd said to myself "that's the last time I'll ever beat him." I think also that until I'd lost to him, I had a lot to lose when playing him, whereas once I'd lost to him, I had a lot to gain by beating him. So actually as I approached our fourth meeting, I found that I had a pretty positive mindset, and I thought it was totally possible that I could win this game.
That was until a couple minutes after I woke up Monday morning. I moved my head a little bit and a wave of dizzyness overtook me. I stopped. The dizzyness did not dispell. For ten minutes I felt awful, holding still. Then it abated, and a few minutes later I again moved my head a few inches. Another absolutely disorienting and overwhelming bout of nausea for 10 minutes. This was really freaky; I had no idea what was wrong with me and had never heard of anything like this. Sunday I had been in great shape, had eaten and exercised well, and was feeling perfect physically.
Dragging myself to my bathroom cost me another 40 minutes sitting motionless in the bathroom before I could make my way back to bed, and then another 40 minutes after I got back to bed that I felt violently ill. When I would open my eyes, the room would be spinning about be rapidly. I sealed them shut tightly. And basically did not move for the next eight hours.
In the afternoon I tentatively tried moving my head slightly. Again bouts of nausea, but now a gentle movement only seemed to lead to 5 minutes of agony instead of 10-15. The signs were good, and as the game approached the length of time was coming down slightly. But still, getting to the game on public transit would be a lot more challenging than drinking a glass of water a friend brought me in bed.
I thought if I did not play today, our team would not make the playoffs. I just needed to get to the site, and then if I held my head completely still during the game, I knew I had a chance.
Thankfully a friend (non-chessplayer!!) escorted me to the Mechanics. This way I could keep my eyes closed, not jostle with the crowd, not keep track of stops on, and not look where I was walking. Still, when I finally got to the club, teeth clenched, I was in agony. I had planned for this-- I was an hour early. I lay down on a chessboard and closed my eyes. Within thirty minutes the pain mostly subsided. I talked a little to my teammates as they arrived, but tried to lay low. If not for this friend, I would not have made it to the game.
Unfortunately, Monday was also the day I was going to prepare for the game, so I had not eaten more than a few nuts and some water, and I had not done any opening work. The game started--
Let's stop here to make some general guiding observations about this position. White's first desire would be to trade queens, when the a-pawn is a huge force. Outside passed rook pawns are the greatest asset in a N ending, and in this case the same colored bishops also give white really good winning chances, since the white bishop already occupies the best diagonal for the endgame. So a Q trade could be considered to give white 50%+ winning chances against almost no losing chances.
What does black want to do? He wants to activate his central majority, and/or attack the white king. He can advance his pawns to make a passer, or he can just bully the white pieces with them, and keep them strong in the center. Then he wants to try to poke at the white king's position and make some threats. So h5-h4 can be a good idea for him. Black actually needs to be pretty urgent in his play here, since his idea is 1) dynamic and 2) dependent on all the pieces being on the board; and because 3) white's passed a-pawn is a dangerous asset.
White needs to exercise some caution in advancing his a-pawn however, we he does not want it to be cut off from his pieces. All in all a tricky position. I was not very confident at this point, because black is able to bully my pieces somewhat, but after playing the game out (thus logging my first personal experience with this distribution of forces!) I feel more confident about white's chances here. I think white may actually have a slight edge. During the game I was really afraid that my king would get opened up, and I'd come under a severe attack, but I do not see an easy way for black to achieve that.
I was so happy after this win! For anyone who thinks it's bad form to gloat about winning a game against a thirteen year old kid, I would say that it's a sincere sign of my respect for David that I could be this excited about winning a game against him-- I can't remember being this excited about beating a thirteen year old since Vinay was thirteen. Although probably I did not beat him when he was thirteen, but the point is: since thirteen year olds were my peers.
Tomorrow I start the Western States Open here in Reno, NV. I'll try to keep results updated through my blog and/or twitter, and will put games in my blog as well if they don't go too long and take all my energy.
EDIT: sorry, I forgot to add that when I woke up Tuesday morning, the dizzyness was gone, and I have no idea what caused it, but I feel fine now.