SCC Extravaganza 2014
This Seattle Chess Club event was a true glut of chess, seven rounds in three days. It reminds me of a wall decoration we had in the Anchorage Chess Club when I was growing up: a clipping of an old Ann Landers column whose headline was "You Know You're Getting Old When A Game Of Chess Exhausts You." We're all getting old, apparently!
I started by losing to a master on the White side of the Two Knights. Unfortunately the only line I know is 4. Ng5, which is excellent against weaker players but a poor choice, as my opponent pointed out afterwards, against stronger ones: Black plays the obligatory pawn sacrifice and in return has all the play for a long time.
The upside of this game was that I gathered the nerve to ask my opponent, who works at the same place I do, for a lunchtime game, and we've been playing blitz and analyzing our tournament disasters weekly since then. It's great to get to play a strong player; occasionally I even beat him. (I still have not learned a better line against the Two Knights, though....)
I beat a young beginner with a standard trap in the French, lost an Alapin Sicilian to a young 1900 player, and still had a game to play on Saturday evening. I was playing Travis Olson, a high-strung but ambitious 1800 player. We were to meet again in the final round of the Washington Open, when I discovered that he had vivid and bitter memories of this game.
After several tries the queenside counterplay in the Dutch Stonewall had finally produced an endgame win. I've played the Classical and Stonewall lines of the Dutch nearly my whole life, and gone through several periods when they were not working at all--but somehow never found a QP opening I like better, so I keep with them.
The next game was a shocker, an 18-move game against a high 1900 player (at the time I thought he was an Expert). I reached the following position:
Next came another 1900 player, a very small (I think he's nine) and very fidgety player with tremendous self-confidence in the opening.
...which was perfectly justified given the way the game ended. I lost control of the position completely, and was treated to the sight of my opponent leaping up and standing on his chair to deliver the killing move.
The final game was against an adult master, and featured Mary being out of book on move three:
I can't feel too bad about this game--I was in there fighting the whole way despite the opening surprise, and had a great time. I feel that way about the whole tournament--my results were nothing very special, but I played fighting chess, learned a whole lot, won a few games, connected with an analysis buddy, and generally felt like a chessplayer.