May Tornado, or Death by G/60

May Tornado, or Death by G/60

WCM mkkuhner
May 15, 2017, 7:50 AM |

I had not played in the Seattle Chess Club's one-day events before, for a variety of reasons.  A bad reason is that in my whole tournament career I have never lost every game in an event, and while intellectually I know this "record" doesn't matter, I'm still reluctant to break it.  Short tournaments therefore seem risky.  But I decided somewhat impulsively to play in the Tornado as a training event for my upcoming chess splurge (WA Open, US Women's Open, National Open).

In the first round I got lured out of my opening repertoire again:

Shortly after the draw was agreed--quite a few players were watching as this was the last game to finish--Joseph Frantz said, "Not to interrupt you in your darkest moment, but this will cheer you up--" and then passed on the result of the French election.  It did cheer me up, though had I but known, this was not yet the darkest moment....

No time to go out for food, so I ate half a sandwich and went back to the board.  In the crowd at the pairing chart was a tiny Asian girl who was trying to puzzle out her opponent's name.  "Kooner" said her dad helpfully.  Hey, a chance to play another female player!  It doesn't happen often.  I didn't recognize her, so assumed she was probably quite low rated.

So that was better.  (Good thing she missed the fork, though; otherwise she played very well.)

In round 3 I faced an adult, and got to play an opening line which fascinates me.  My record in it is not particularly good, but one of the games was a personal best, and all of them have been fun.

Terrible clock handling.  I play blitz reasonably often, you'd think I could cope better.  But I had a lot of trouble making the transition from slow play to blitz play.

At this point I was clearly going to end up with a rating minus, but I figured I'd also get an easy pairing, which turned out to be the case.  Except--

So that was a remarkable debacle.  I thought at the time that I'd knocked myself out of the 1900's completely, but in fact ended up at 1910.  In a way that's worse as I could at least have hoped to sandbag my way to some prize money in one of the upcoming tournaments....

It's evident that I do not know how to play G/60.  I had played just 5 rated games of it prior to this tournament and had done okay, with a provisional rating of 1897 (now it's 1582!) but I'd felt very uneasy in all of the games.  This unease led me to avoid 2-day schedules, so I didn't get any practice.  But I was still surprised how badly the clock handling went.  I may have also had a bad day....

This makes me worry about the US Women's Open, which is 5 rounds of G/90 in 2 days.  I played a training game of G/60 against my spouse, to see if that approach could help, but won in 14 minutes so it didn't really stress my clock handling.

I will say with some pride that I avoided the "I'm terrible, I should give up chess" reaction, despite this being the worst tournament since my comeback and probably second-worst ever.  (The worst one was an Anchorage Chess Club tournament around 1980, a double round-robin among local juniors, where I finished with 0.5/6 and only by dint of bursting into tears in the last round when my opponent queened a pawn, whereupon he offered a draw and I shamelessly took it.  Things don't get too much worse than that.)  But I can't help thinking that I'm terrible at G/60, and that this points at a systematic issue:  I don't know a lot of stuff I should know, and I compensate by calculation.  This works pretty well at 40/2 but the faster the time control, the more difficult things become.