Sunday, May 15, 2005

Stories from New York Part I (or Striving for Expert)

Hey everyone,

In an effort to keep this nice blog going, I am going to pitch in my own efforts here. Many of you may remember that I recently moved to New York City for about a year and will be returning to Boston in the Fall. One of the great things about living in New York is the ability to play quality chess five or six days a week, if so inclined (and so rich). For me, that means I can play about 3 or 4 times a month, but I can pick and choose when I play more easily.

Since there are a large number of masters and experts here in New York, I have made it a goal of mine to make the expert class level before I come back to Boston. My blog efforts will be the story of my quest to make expert.

In Boston, I hovered between 1850-1900 for about 6 years, with little time to devote to chess. Now, in New York, I am hovering between 1900-1950, so I can tell I am improving (I officially cracked 1900 for the first time here in New York!). Those masters keep beating me though-- I have managed a couple of draws, but nothing more. Over the course of the next few weeks, I'll share some stories about playing IM Jay Bonin to some very interesting positions, as well as nice efforts against some FMs. But my fate is as a ying and yang player-- beating a 2100 one round only to blunder a piece against a 1500 the next. My excuse is that I like exciting games, but it probably means that I am lazy and careless over the board.

I'll share one fun story just to get this all started. I played a two tournament weekend a few months ago-- G30 on Saturday, followed by G60 on Sunday. In the Saturday tournament, I was paired with a sour old 2100 + player who I had swindled in a game 30 some weeks before. Well known as an angry man, his face was contorted with an absolute desire to crush me for my previous "lucky" game. We played a very quirky King's Indian that I like, and I sacrificed the exchange, quite dubiously, I must add. But G30 can lead to some crazy stuff. A few moves later, I sacrificed my whole other rook, mostly because we both had minutes left on the clock. The beauty of this rook sac is that it loses-- unless he actually takes that silly castle. I generated a tremendous attack, and with about 30 seconds each, I mated him in the open board. This led to a nice little scene.

He SMACKS all the pieces across the board into my face. The TD sees all the commotion and throws him out of the tournament. I've seen worse, so I took it in stride, finished a good tournament and won the under 2000 prize (which just barely paid my entry fee, of course!)

The great part of this story is that in the G60 on Sunday, I get paired with Angry Man again (they keep letting him come back, but his behavior doesn't change, as we will see.) He is not happy to see me, and we refuse to shake each other's hands. Before the round starts, I get up to use the bathroom, only to return to find he has started my clock early! Anything to annoy me, I guess. In the end, I must have the psychological edge-- I beat him for a third time, this time quite easily.

That would be the end of this story, but in the next round, Angry Man manages to get tossed out of the tournament again! He got a very low pairing against some small kid, who quickly lost material but played out the game. Yes, we have all been annoyed by kids playing out the game to mate, but they are still learning, so I don't mind. With mate in 4 on the board, Angry Man leans over, gritting his teeth, and spews out, "Resign, motherF***er," and then promptly finds himself heading home, kicked out again. I wonder if he thinks about why he got thrown out during that long trek home? I doubt it-- his behavior doesn't change.

Next time, maybe I'll post one or two nice games I've played against the titled players, and maybe one of my blunderfests, too. I also hope to encourage other Boston Chess Club players to post similar types of blog entries. My future efforts will be shorter, I promise.

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