Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pain and Suffering at the Ohio Chess Congress

So the Ohio Chess Congress is finished. It still remains one of my favorite tournaments for its unique 3 day, 2 game a day format (it's always over Labor Day weekend). A lot of chess, but high quality.

This year, my section was 1700-2000. I played 4 players above 1900. In those games, I scored +0 =1 -3. It was brutal. I learned a very valuable lesson, though. If you don't check for tactics on every move, you'll probably lose. It's funny how such a seemingly obvious thing can escape your notice when you play 'B' and 'C' players, because they don't punish you. 'A' players punish you brutally. Each of the 3 games I lost I lost because of simple tactical oversights (well, one I got completely outplayed and was losing in any case). My only goal before the next tournament (IN state champs) is to realign my move selection thought process to constantly be wary of tactics. I think if I do that, I'll be okay.

Garrett made an interesting observation about my play, namely that I've learned chess in the reverse order from most players. I study a lot, but I've only played really serious (i.e. classical time control) tournaments for about a year, with some rapid play before that. I know a lot about openings, middle game structures, theoretical endings, etc, but I have very little actual playing experience. How many 'B' players do you think have studied 10x as much as they've played? My ratio is probably a lot higher than that, actually, because I am pretty studious. Garrett and Ben assured me that once my playing experience catches up that I'll probably get a quick ratings boost, and I can't wait for it to happen. Right now, I'm just trying to play better chess rather than worrying about increasing my knowledge base. Thought process dominates knowledge OTB, and that's where I'm focusing my efforts. In any case, here are all my games from the tournament save the last round, which I haven't analyzed yet (it was a pretty brutal and uninteresting loss anyway).

Round 1


First round draws with 'A' players don't bother me too much, though I feel if I'd played more energetically I might have had winning chances. This proved to be the highlight of my tourney against 1900+ players.

Round 2


This game sucked. So drawn. This one hurt me badly psychologically.

Round 3


I cannot believe I got a draw out of this one. Barely avoided ridicule for losing to a 16 year old girl. I deserved to lose.

Round 4


My one success. I have to say, I was very pleased with how I played this game. Good energy, no dogmatism. I think I would have won even if he hadn't blundered.

Round 5


I got outplayed every way you could get outplayed in this one. I won't add anything to the copious game notes, but suffice it to say that I'll be ready if I get this variation again.

The last round was another ignominious miniature defeat against a 1900+ player in an irregular Tromp type opening. I didn't have any gumption left after the Wolrath game. Bad chess, good lesson in both humility and the need to consider my opponent's checks, captures, and threats (thanks Dan Heisman) every move. By the way, if you've never read Novice Nook at Chesscafe.com, then do it right now. It's not really just for novices. All players should look at it, because Heisman is unparalleled at revealing useful information on practical play. Next tournament is the IN State Champs. I'll be happily married by then, which is a crazy thing. That tournament will hopefully also be the triumphant (unless he plays me) return of Nate to the Midwest Chess scene. Hopefully I can bounce back and win some good games. In other news, getting married on the 26th in San Diego, got a 730 on the GMAT (class average at Harvard Business School last year: 707), and having my large intestine taken out in Cleveland on October 29th. It's a busy fall.


natec said...

A lot of comments about this post are swimming through my head. First off... Your QGD move order in the Kulkarni game seems a little less than intimidating. Have you found it to be recommended by anyone or are you just playing it to avoid the stuff like the Ragozin and Vienna and semi slav transpositions?

I thought you were better out of the opening in both of your Sicilian games. I think you have a good grasp of the more peaceful variations. Would have been nice to see one of your opponents step up and play either a Rauzer or Velimirovic.

Even though you study a lot, I have to wonder if you are studying the right things for this early in your chess playing career. The Porter and Walrath games show that you need to work in the transitional phases of the game (opening-->middlegame and middlegame--->endgame). I hereby lay down the challenge that you not open a book on openings between now and your next tournament and focus on the middlegame-->endgame transition. In the porter game you simply traded down into a lost endgame. The Najdorf game where you totally had me busted in the Indiana Amateur you did the same thing. By studying that transitional phase more you'll learn the types of positions that you want to achieve out of the middle game including when you need to keep more pieces on the board as in the porter game.

RE: The Walrath game... Drew and I have both beat him atleast as bad as he beat you, so we got your back.

Also ditch the Bayonet.. I know it's supposed to be the theoretical test to the KID and all but until you learn how to handle your pieces in the middlegame better play something like the 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 O-O 5.Bg5 d6 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Qc2 line or Averbackh. You'd be surprised how many strong players you can knock off in the 5. Bg5 line. I resort to it now and then against really strong or booked up players.

I'd be interested in playing a prolonged match against you in tournament conditions. (one or two games a week). Don't know if I'd be willing for it to be rated since I suck right now but it will help me keep the rust off since I haven't played in two months now. It would help you get some in game experience too.

Caeruleum Canis said...

I'd play you in a match. And in fact, that move order in the Kulkarni game is book, that variation is book up for about 7 moves. I've mostly stopped studying openings, I just don't calculate enough. I get lazy OTB. I think that's my biggest issue, not being vigilant enough. I do agree with you about the Bayonet attack though. It may be a little bit beyond me right now. You sac a pawn in so many lines, and white's comp is sometimes tough to prove. The Averbahk is not a bad idea, and I may look into it.

Caeruleum Canis said...

Actually, the Kulkarni game was theory until move 10, when I should have played h4 instead of the slow and unnecessary a3.

natec said...

It's book, but it's the third most common move order. I think that 4. Bg5 is a more common move by a factor of 10. I don't have my database with me at work, but according to chessgames.com 4. cxd5 is the third most common move in that position. The idea being that you hold off on cxd5 until you can answer exd5 with Qc2 pretty much ruling out black playing Bf5. It could be that Bf5 isn't that great of a move. But I'd rather have that bishop on g4 where you win a tempo with f3 or back on c8 personally. It could be just a stylistic choice that's why I was wondering if you got the recommendation of this move order out of a book somewhere, because I was going to look up the ideas behind it.

natec said...

ok. So I am a total retard. I guess that your move order is the classical way to enter the exchange. Though I still like the way I do it better. I've pretty much settled on the Carlsbad over the modern exchange though.

Caeruleum Canis said...

You didn't address my acceptance of your match challenge, Nate. 4 games, one day, lets do it. Unrated. I guarantee that if we tell Drew and Garrett about it, they bet on the outcome. I'm curious what they'd think the line would be.

natec said...

Four games of 90 30? Does sunday work for you? I kinda want to watch the Colts Vikings game, but being a Vikings fan I'll probably be sparing myself disappointment by not watching it.

And I guess I'd be ok with rating it if you wanted too as well.