SCC Insanity 2016

SCC Insanity 2016

WCM mkkuhner
Jan 4, 2017, 10:16 PM |

The year's-end Insanity tournament is held only rarely, when the stars align, New Years' falls on a weekend, and the TD is willing to stay up all night.  This year's iteration featured three events:  a day-long Octagonal in classical chess with a time control of G/101, a Regressive with progressively shorter time controls ending in playing 6 minute chess at 4 AM, and a 960 event at G/15 at 5 AM.  Survivors would earn a free breakfast at a local greasy spoon....

I knew I wasn't up for that, so decided to play in the Octagonals only.  When I arrived at 9 I was the only one there, and wondered if I had misread the times.  TD Fred Kleist arrived shortly, and we chatted about the process for becoming a USCF TD.  (The first step is very easy--get a copy of the rules and sign a statement that you've read them.)  Then Andy and Sophie Tien arrived, and we discussed what could be done with just 3 players; then Shuhen Du, so we decided it was a quad and Fred did pairings (I was set to play Andy).  Finally Alex Kaelin arrived and Fred redrew it as a Pentagonal.  Then Alex mentioned that he couldn't play the last round and therefore wouldn't play if he'd get a first or second round bye.  This led to pairings in which Andy got the first bye; Sophie and Andy's dad thought it better that Sophie get the first bye.  (Poor Fred!)  Fred proposed doing four rounds at a faster time control to equalize the byes, but Shuhen demurred.  I finally ended up playing Shuhen....

I have been having good results with ...f4 pushes in the Dutch lately.  I feel as though the key to the Dutch is having a big repertoire of different plans and not getting stuck in a rote approach.

I got a little food and then spent the rest of the break teaching the kids to solve a crossword puzzle--crosswords were a staple of school worksheets when I was a kid, but surprisingly, none of the younger players had ever done one.  The crossword puzzle delayed the round start by a good ten minutes, and I saw the kids looking at it during breaks in their games as well!  (The Tiens have impressive vocabularies, especially given that they're bilingual.)

This round I was paired against Andy Tien.  Having watched his demolition of Alex in the previous round I was a bit apprehensive, and indeed, it was a violent game.  My decision to revert to the Evans Gambit was made on the spur of the moment....

When I left, Alex was beating Sophie.  I ran the pairings in my head on the way to the mall to eat, and realized I'd be playing Sophie regardless as there were literally no other legal pairings.  When I got back, however, I found that Sophie had won--her brother said "He let the pawn block slip."  So we were tied at 2 points, making for a nice finale.  We collectively solved the crossword puzzle, chatted a bit, and went back at it.  During the game people began trickling in for the Regressive event--I wonder if Fred had hoped to go home, as none of the Pentagonal players planned to stay!  (Sophie would have liked to, but had an event the next afternoon which she didn't want to sleep through.)

Sophie was a 1400 player a few short months ago, before going on a rampage including bagging the defending State Women's Champion in the Championship; now she's pushing 1800, and one always wonders if that rating, too, might be obsolete by the time it's published.  I was also not happy to see the Exchange Winawer.  My study partner and I have been working on a Black plan for the regular Exchange, but it didn't work here....

I was somewhat surprised to win this event:  I have not been consistent against young players lately.  As far as I know I avoided gross blunders.  I hope this is a good sign for the New Year, as I am tired of being stuck at 1900.  I also liked my clock handling.  G/101 is a strange time control (part of the Insanity theme was to have strange time controls, as well as rounds starting at times like 6:19) but I was able to make reasonable use of my time.

Joseph Franz gave me a New Year's thought to ponder:  "It's hard to break your bad habits when they sometimes win you games."