Giant Killer

Nov 13, 2009, 10:51 AM |

Last Wednesday I played the second round of a 3 week/3 round tournament called the Rated Quads. I had a suspicion that this game would be much more difficult than the first, and it was, but in ways I didn't quite expect.

I was paired with Joe, who recently tied for first place at the Omaha City Championship in September, and who beat out a 2200 player to win the Great Plains Open last Saturday (11/07/09) with a perfect 4.0 score. I helped contribute to that perfect score in round three when I played a miserable Gruenfeld Defense and lost handily.

Needless to say, Joe was probably more confident going into this game than I was. I was more apathetic than nervous, quite frankly. I figured I'd muck something up and lose eventually. Of course, it's great to win and I cetainly tried, but truthfully all I wanted out of the deal was an interesting game of chess.

The time control was G75, and I was commander of the Black pieces. I only knew one thing for certain: against 1. e4 there was no way in hell I was going to play Sicilian Defense. First of all I'm bored with it, and second, it's the most popular defense with players at my club so I knew I'd probably get out-played in the opening. I decided my response would either be 1. ...Nf6, Alekhine's defense, or 1. ...d5, the Center-Counter defense, because both of those still seem pretty new to me and I just wanted to have fun.

The game itself was really not that challenging, which surprised me. Joe got into time trouble early, and for most of the game I had between 10 and 20 minutes extra. He put a lot of time and effort into creating a mating net that seemed to rely more on me blundering than on the force of the attack. Even though it didn't work out for him in the end, I was (and still am) impressed with the way his minor pieces worked together. It's too bad that he got into so much time trouble, because the game was just getting interesting when it ended.

As it turns out, the win was very bittersweet. As I was putting my chess set away and getting ready to leave, I overheard him talking with the club director (who is also a 2000 rated player) about different styles of play. He brought up a conversation he had in the past with another top Omaha player, Mirko, about time control. Basically, for games under 75 minutes Mirko said he would not even think about creating an elaborate combination because the opponent will typically just "play position". He made it sound like playing position was a bad thing, like something only brain-dead patzers would do. I felt a little insulted after hearing that because it sounded like he was indirectly criticizing my style of play while I was still in the room!

For most of the game I was on the defensive. He played an aggressive 8. Qb3 and from then on I did what I could to fend off his attacks, and tried to create counter-play wherever possible. It is true that I didn't have a long-term plan of attack on his king. I hadn't gotten that far yet, and I didn't feel bad about that. There is a place and a time for everything, and I didn't think it was wise to spend large amounts of time on a part of the board that my pieces were not coordinated to attack.

I don't know, maybe that makes me a patzer.