Thursday, July 07, 2011

Seacoast Fishing

In the 1980's, the Batsford publishing house used varying numbers of diagonal stripes on the front lower left corner of books to indicate the intended audience. 1 stripe = Popular; 2 stripes = Competitive; 3 stripes = Master (Adidas in German).

For our club, those 3 levels could perhaps similarly loosely be designated as Weaver Adams (under 1800), Reubens-Landey (1800-2199), and Club Championship (2200+). Here's some solidly Weaver Adams category material, so the strong players are forewarned to lace up their Adidas sneakers and run screaming.

In June, I went to Relyea Chess' Seacoast Open in Portsmouth, NH, despite the fast G/65 time control (+5 second delay for digital clocks). Arriving at and leaving from the parking lot alongside eventual tournament co-winner, GM Alexander Ivanov, it was almost as if the Chess Force was with me. Unfortunately, those parking lot coincidences didn't bring me a great tournament result, but I did get into time trouble.

In round one as Black against Mike Parsons, I won a pawn and achieved some pressure, but I felt Mike was providing unexpectedly tough resistance for someone rated 400 points lower than I. He refused to collapse, and we both ended up in time trouble, struggling to avoid losing on time.

We both finished with incomplete scoresheets, and although right after the game I recorded the final position using piece-on-square notes like Kg8, I subsequently discovered that I had been so fried that I'd recorded two pieces on the same square. Anyway, my best reconstruction of events follows, which I am reasonably sure is what actually happened at the end of our game.

After 35 Kh4

Frustrated by my inability to force capitulation earlier and, as noted, concerned about possibly losing on time, I decided to pull back and try to force issues on my end of the board. I remember thinking that in our mutual time pressure I might be able to bamboozle Mike into exchanging queens, when in the simplified position the 5 second delay should allow an easier conversion of my extra pawn. That is why I played:


bamboozling MYSELF pretty effectively. I'm pretty sure Mike was even more time-pressed than I, so after:

36 g5 Qh7 37 Qe6+? (37 Qc8+ Kf7 38 g6+ forking Black's king and queen wins; 37 Qc8+ being a longer move for the queen, and thus harder to see when you think your flag is imminently going to fall, may explain Mike's choice of 37 Qe6+?) Kh8 38 g6 Qg8 39 Qxg8+ Kxg8 40 Kg5 Kh8

Mike finally lost the thread with:

41 h6?? gxh6 42 Kxh6 e4 0-1

One of the things I dislike about time-crammed tournament schedules is the greatly reduced chances to chat with your opponent after the game. In the Batman movie directed by Tim Burton (bear with me, dear reader), there is a scene where Batman is preparing to raise Vicki Vale and himself up to the top of a building using a hydraulic bat-something-or-other. He asks her how much she weighs, to which she responds, "108." The hydraulic device apparently has more trouble with their combined weight than Batman expected it to, and he remarks, "You weigh a little more than a hundred and eight." (Thanks, IMDb).

Mike, you played a lot better than your rating of 1333!

In round 3 I had Black against unrated Dakota Smith. I once again fell into time pressure, but was pushing forward for checkmate from a position at least like the following with respect to the salient features of the position. It may even have been the exact position, but it just doesn't feel 100% familiar.

Some time earlier I was already watching for stalemate possibilities, but as the clock relentlessly ticked down I had shifted into "If he moves the rook along the 1st rank, I will play h2 mate. If he moves the rook off the 1st rank, I will play 1...Re1 mate."

Clearly 1...h2 is mate regardless of what White plays, but if this really was the position, with my clock ticking down, I might not have noticed that.

So when Dakota played:

1 Rc3!

moving his rook off the first rank, I slammed out:

1...Re1 most-definitely-NOT-mate???

Through my earplugs I eventually became aware that something was wrong, and took back my illegal move. I saw 1...Rxc3 stalemate, so instead played:


before abruptly realizing I had already touched the rook, and immediately offered a draw because of the stalemate described, which was accepted.

Dakota offered to let me make the king move, but I stressed to him that it is touch move. I wasn't sure if, as a new player, he knew that.

While writing this blog entry, I realized that instead of 1...Rxc3?? stalemate, there is actually 1...Rf3!! winning. To avoid 2...h2 mate, White must play 2 Rxf3+, after which 2...Kxf3 3 Kh2 Kf2 4 Kxh3 g1=Q (or g1=R) wins without further ado.

I am sure the Reubens-Landey regulars are quivering in fear at the prospect of facing me, seeing these game fragments of mine.  Vive the Weaver Adams one-stripers!

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