Monday, June 12, 2017

Mass Open Musings, Part 1: Journey to the West (西遊記, 哈哈)

In an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Klingon warrior Worf is forced to battle about half a dozen different Jem'Hadar (an alien race bred to be warrior soldiers), one after another. The Jem'Hadar soldiers are fresh for each battle, but Worf is continuously worn down. Nonetheless, he is able to overcome all of them, except the final one (cf. Anand-Karpov, FIDE 1988 1998 World Championship cycle).

As the tournament approached, I daydreamed about similar chess glory:



The reality, after 4 years without playing any chess, brief tidbits of preparation over several weeks, and time controls significantly faster than what I can handle comfortably, was...somewhat different:



Being comparatively more comfortable in the endgame than in either the opening or middle game, I hoped that, particularly for the three G/45, d5 games, I could leave myself with at least 15 minutes for the endgame, in which case I hoped and thought that I would neither lose on time nor make huge endgame blunders (uh, that were actually capitalized on).

In the following position as Black, after 24...Qa5 I only had 4 minutes and 26 seconds left on the clock to finish the game. As Andy Bernard from The Office might say, "Nailed it!"



With the luck of fools (I think my opponent missed a chance to create a passed pawn, which would have made things pretty horrible for me), I actually won that game. Will wonders never cease.

People asked me after a couple of games, "Why did I play X instead of Y?" My answer was generally, "I was running out of time and couldn't consider much, aside from making the time control." Life in the fast lane....

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