Rio Rancho Tournament Report
OK so the wife and I and our trusty four legged friend leave late Friday morning heading towards New Mexico. The trip was pretty uneventful although the beauty of the landscape always captivates me.
See what I mean?
Anyway since I planned this trip a wee bit better there were no late night blind dashes through uncharted highways. We went at a more relaxed pace and arrived unfrazzled at our hotel room.
The next day I arrived at about 8 am and went into the tournament hall. The inside of this place was a departure from the warm sunny New Mexico morning. The bar was poorly lit and there was a smoky haze throughout the room. Although the smell of cigarettes was overpowering, I detected a faint smell, lurking underneath, barely detectable. Yes it was quite faint, but unmistakable, a smell from my days back in NYC when I ran with a chess gang; gun smoke. Yes folks a man was shot and more than likely killed in this very room, no more than 30 – 40 minutes before my arrival.
This kind of thing happened pretty frequently in the old days. Two guys would start bullshitting about Morphy or Fischer being the best ever and before you know it heated words turned into heated barrel and someone was dead…
As I make my way across the room my eye catches an old sign above the registration table, it read:
If you don’t want something unfortunate happening to you avoid the following
1. The London System
2. Time Delay Clocks
3. Algebraic notation
We don’t cotton to none of the above.
Well now I’m feeling a bit sick to my stomach, I mean not only were these guys’ chess bad asses but they were OCG’s, Original Chess Gangsta’s. You don’t mess with crazy bastards like this.
What? Well I’m sure…
Yeah, you know it’s called artistic license…
I’m putting the facts in, just with some pizzazz.
I’m sure they are fully aware…
Geez there are like THREE FREAKING PEOPLE THAT READ THIS BLOG WHAT DOES IT MATTER???
OK Mrs. Wang is giving me grief about the opening of this story. She doesn’t think anyone would believe this, and that chess players are nowhere near that dangerous or violent. Unfortunately she is correct. The tournament was held in this place.
Hardly a haven for scum and villainy, but bad ass chess players would have made for a more interesting albeit less accurate story, I was still going to put my game annotations in the post, so the most important facts would be in.
As for facts, I had an upset stomach the entire weekend. I think it was road food, you know McDonald’s and other fast food stuff during the trip over, that and a bit of nerves. Nothing major, but I had Pepto with me the whole time.
Anyway the place was actually well lit and temperature controlled perfectly, not too cold or hot. There were four long rows of tables that comfortably held all of the players. The cash prizes were based on having 80 total entries and 82 showed up for the tourney; so the organizers chose their spot wisely. I suspect the place would have accommodated another 20 players easily, so kudos to the organizers for picking such a good spot for the tourney.
Another fact, they had a vendor there that I bought a time delay clock from, yes I finally went over to the dark side. A couple of weeks ago I drew a won game because I got into a time scramble, and I figured that a time delay clock would be a good solution to this happening to me again. What can I say? I’m a sellout. The clock only cost me $ 37.50 with Batteries! Sweet deal so how could I say no?
There was also another vendor, whose name I can’t remember, but he had a bunch of books (in descriptive notation) and he had published several monographs (also in descriptive) His shirt had the following on it. Chess is a Royal game that deserves Royal Notation P-K4! I mean he was pretty passionate about this. A few of the local players buying from him also seemed to share his opinion about descriptive notation.
My first game is against a young man I believe to be about 13 years old, rated about 1800. I have white and he plays a Sicilian, of course! Now I normally don’t praise my opponents play, which I hope is not a sign of being a poor sport but I’m really focused on my play, after all it’s my blog. But I have to say he played quite well. He had some attacking chances early on the queenside, I defended and hoped he would fall into one of the many traps, but he didn’t. Instead he regroups his pieces to go back towards the Kingside where I get my turn to attack. Don't forget to hit the move list button.
So I’m 0 for 1 at the tournament, but I’m not down about it. I think I played pretty well, I had some good tactics involved in the game I just had an inaccurate attack and I was punished by a player that has almost 300 points on me, not a completely unexpected result.
In round two I play a much older gentleman, about 100 points below me and I have white again! I play 1.e4 and he plays the Accelerated Dragon, in turn signal chess style.
What, you’ve never heard of turn signal chess? Well it’s like when you get behind a slow driving senior citizen who has had their turn signal on for about 35 minutes; it makes you crazy and impatient. Well he was slow, and I don’t mean slow, I mean S-L-O-W. He took forever to move and I had a good position against him in the early middle game.
I was confident that I would bring home this point and get back on track. Problem is I underestimated this guy and I thought I was so much better, that the point would just win itself. I played a bad move from this position, and he won his pawn back.
I played 22.Na5? "forking" the Q and B, but he just wins the b pawn with Qxb2. Now instead of just admitting that I’ve made a mistake and regrouping and getting back into the game, I try to complicate matters and he begins to unleash a pretty mighty can of tactical whip ass on me. I mean he beat me LOUD! Bottom line, when he won, he had 17 minutes left on his clock, I had 51. I played too fast because I underestimated my opponent. I think it is better to play the board not the man, at least when you don’t know the man that well anyway.
So now I am 0 for 2 and yes I am pretty pissed off. My dark half was pretty mean to me;
Evil Wang: Dude, you suck!
Good Wang: Leave me alone.
Evil Wang: I mean really, you studied and prepared for this thing and you’ve lost two games in a row.
Good Wang: Look…
Evil Wang: Hell, you could have lost your first two games without studying.
Good Wang: It’s complicated, I just underestimated the old guy, and…
Evil Wang: Dude, shut up already. You should just quit chess, sell all of your shit and start playing World of Warcraft, like any self – respecting nerd would do.
Good Wang: I’m not a nerd!
Evil Wang: REALLY! You’re going to put this conversation in your blog aren’t you?
Well that was true, so I am a nerd. But really so what? It’s not exactly news to me, I play chess and I blog about it so, yeah guilty as charged.
What was really killing me is that I was losing my ass, and I’ve spent money, invested weekend of free time and hours of preparation to come 400 miles to New Mexico and lose my first two games!
Me and Mrs. Wang go out to lunch and I tell her that if I don’t win my round 3 game, I’ll drop out of the tournament and we’ll head home early. Although she’s not crazy about the idea of me quitting, she’s cool about it. Now kids I will tell you that you should never tempt fate like this, it’s simply not good.
In round three I am paired up against another 12-13 year old. This time I have black, and I’m actually relieved, no pressure. We have equal ratings so it should be a good match. The only thing is he is also 0-2 at this tourney and he’s likely to be desperate.
He opens with 1.e4 and I whip out my Alekhine (hmmm, that doesn’t sound right) He proceeds to play the 5 pawn variation of Alekhine’s defense. Ok before you start to look this variation up, I’ll let you in on a little secret; it doesn’t exist. The funny thing was that he played the first 5 moves quickly and confidently, then he played 6.f4?! We ended up in this position, I'm already happy.
Have a good weekend folks.