Evans Memorial 2: ...and then it's not
I had gotten very little sleep, though I did manage some breakfast at the hotel diner. (I had not set foot out of the casino since Thursday; they are designed to encourage this.) When I came down to the tournament hall the pairings were not up, but clearly I had to be on board 1. There were two little state flags there, WA and CA. Throughout the tournament the top boards had state flags, except in the Open where they had national flags. Uncle Vik got a Latvian flag, which I thought was a nice touch. --So at least I was not playing the ominous Washington kids.
I thought I was playing fairly well in this game, but I got crushed:
It is better to be beaten because your opponent plays well than because you blunder, so I wasn't too upset. I examined the crosstables and found that if Estolas won, he couldn't be caught, but if he did not win I could still tie for first.
I don't remember what I did for the rest of the afternoon except that I tried and failed to sleep. I came down and found Aaryan Deshpande and Addison Lee hanging nervously around the tournament hall. Evidently I would have to play one of them, and soon there were two WA flags on board 2 or 3, confirming it. I predicted Aaryan and turned out to be correct. (The TD, Jerry Weikel, announced in advance that he would modify pairings to correct colors only in extreme situations, which made the pairings much easier to guess.)
The last time I played Aaryan I beat him with a kingside attack that seemed to come out of nowhere. He didn't seem terribly happy to be playing me; but I was not happy to be playing him either, given my theory about Seattle-area ratings.
There is not too much to say about the game.
On board 1, Brendyn Estolas was beaten by Lawrence Martinez, leading to a three-way tie for first among Aaryan, Addison, and Lawrence. The casino pays in cash; I wish I had gotten to see the kids with their money! But instead I hung around the tournament hall. Two masters in the Open section had an amazing position with K+Q+P vs K+R+B+2P, with all the winning chances on the R+B side; I watched that on and off until 10:30, when it finally ended in a draw due to incessant checks.
GM Khachiyan also lost in the final round, giving GM Yermolinsky clear first in the Open (and disappointing those of us who'd hoped for a blitz playoff in the late evening).
When only three games were left the TD started quietly packing the hundred+ chess sets. Shortly there were four volunteers helping him. They were all women, out of only 11 women in 237 players. I thought about the reasons while packing up chess sets. I do this kind of thing mostly because it feels better than simply jittering around, and I was too wound up to sleep. Apparently that is a reaction mostly found in women? Men must handle their jitters in some other way--though my husband is an exception, and if he'd been there would probably have been packing up chess sets too.
But there is also a tendency to think "If I'm helpful this will be noticed and will be to my credit somewhere down the line." Sometimes this is true, though the flip side is that if you are helpful people will expect you to help. I get invited to serve on National Science Foundation review panels every year, and while it's an honor it's a lot of work; I can't help thinking this has to do with the time I wrote three of a colleague's reviews for him when he got hopelessly behind.
Anyway, gender studies aside, what's to say about the Evans Memorial? I had a great time. The simul was fascinating, the competition was intense, it was cool to be leading the tournament, and I managed to win two more even-material endgames! (Younger Self is amazed by this. I was always very bad at endgames.)
I returned to Seattle eager to do more chess travel, and am currently thinking about the National Open and/or Women's Open in June. Alas, both of them together would be 11 games in 5 days, and the sad truth is that this would probably replicate the last day of the Evans Memorial, or the 2015 Oregon Open.
How to avoid late-tournament collapses? My coach Valentin points out that finishing the game and going straight to bed is unhelpful, for reasons clearly seen here. It's better, no matter how late the hour, to do a quiet side activity first. (No chess, for heaven's sake!) He also suggests doing meditative non-chess activities between rounds--I could have gone for a walk, for example.
Winning the round 4 game sooner would have helped, and it was possible; but I'm so pleased I found the plan with a6 at all that I can't be too upset I didn't find it sooner. It's an idea I have lost many games to, but seldom found for myself. This does, though, point to the need to look for plans a bit earlier rather than first playing out the "obvious" moves, as I also saw in my Oregon Open game vs. Zavortink where I found the winning plan two moves too late.
I was also over-excited about leading the tournament. As a kid I almost always lost when there was significant money on the line, including a hundred-dollar loss to a 1300 player when I was 1600. I didn't feel I handled this so badly--I was already very excited by round 4 and that went okay--but further improvement is possible.
Are NW players in fact underrated? This tournament is certainly some evidence for the theory. Seattle Chess Club A did not win the club competition, but we missed it by only half a point (edged out by Sacramento); and local players placed well in all of the lower sections. August Piper tied for best senior. Aaryan and Addison of course did very well. My own games offer limited data, but I did get a rating increase--almost all of us did.
Next up is the WA Open, top section; or perhaps a Tornado in early May, to work on energy issues. After that the issue of Vegas is looming. This is an intriguing hypothesis which needs further testing....