Spring Open 2017: Chess as a Rollercoaster
I was eager for this tournament as I hoped to put the State Championship behind me, though also a little apprehensive. Short tournaments scare me because I have a bit too much invested in the fact that I have never lost every game in a tournament, and it'll probably be a short tournament that breaks that particular record.
The top section was 1950 and over. You would expect that with a rating of 1956 I'd be in the bottom half, wouldn't you? But no!
For some reason I have played Brian more often than anyone else, including regular players whose ratings are far closer to mine. At least I seem to have gotten past my initial difficulties in dealing with his play style.
As punishment for a relatively easy first round pairing, in round 2 I was paired with the top seed, the highest rated player I've played since my comeback--possibly the highest ever. I think I did fairly well at not being intimidated. It helps that I have seen Bryce lose from time to time. But this didn't turn out to be one of those times.
While it would have been nice if he'd needed more than 20 minutes on his clock to beat me, I couldn't be too upset about this outcome.
Sunday morning I found myself paired with a high 1700 player. I didn't recognize him, but my records show that we played in the Oregon Open in 2015; he got a much better position but I managed to engineer a draw by repetition. Perhaps it's just as well I'd forgotten that game.
This game was over fairly quickly, so I had a longish wait until the next round. I got to spend part of it helping to break up an incipient fistfight between a player and another player's parent. Strained nerves, politics, and stupid (in my opinion) mutual unwillingness to back down all contributed. I got to use my aikido skills, namely the trick where you put your hand on someone's shoulder and draw them along with you without using force that they might object to. Violence was averted, though we had several rounds of yelling as the two people kept wandering back into earshot and starting up again.
Even when this was over, my nerves were badly rattled. It wasn't all that serious a situation and I didn't feel myself in any danger, but it was just stressful and unwelcome. I went out to dinner with Joseph Franz, which helped some.
I calculated that I'd likely be paired up, and found that I had teenager Brendan Zhang, a tough but possibly beatable Expert.
The tournament was won by Bryce with 3.5. Either Brendan or I could have tied for first U2100 if we'd won; as it is we'll both get part of the "plus score pool" eventually, probably about $10. But I was happy with the tournament overall. The two attacking wins were nice, especially the second one, where I made a long-term plan and succeeded with it. I did not play the middlegame well against Brendan (though Alikhan's suggestion is a valuable hint for later games) but that was probably the best, and certainly the most entertaining, rook endgame I've ever played. Historically I haven't understood rook endgames at all. Perhaps some improvement is visible.