The De Guzman Effect

by admin on December 2, 2013

This weekend I played in the California Class Warfare Tournament, and for me it was a forgettable weekend. I started out well enough, with a half-point bye in round one and a win with Black in round two. However, after that my old nemesis, time pressure, returned. I lost two games as White (rounds three and five) where I had time pressure meltdowns. One of them would have been a loss anyway, but the one in round five was a bitter disappointment. Perhaps I will show it to you in a later post. My other two games were draws with Black, so I ended up at 2½-3½.

It’s clear what I need to work on before the Bay Area International. I need to think about my White openings. It’s just unacceptable that with Black I feel as if I know exactly what I’m doing, but with White I feel as if I’m stumbling around and improvising. The other thing, of course, is to be mentally ready to avoid time pressure.

But I don’t want this entry to be all doom and gloom. Remember how I wrote in my last entry about Taylor McCreary? Well, in this tournament she had what must be one of the biggest successes of her chess career so far. She entered the under-2100 section (remember, her rating is 1871, so she was playing up a section; she could have entered the under-1900) and tied for first with a 5-1 score! According to the preliminary calculations on the Bay Area Chess website, her USCF rating will go up by 80 points.

Taylor went into the last round at 4-1, and was paired against Ladia Ray Jirasek, who was a perfect 5-0 entering the round. So Taylor had to win as Black. I didn’t get to see a lot of the game because I was involved in my own battle, but I did see that she got to a pawn-up bishop-versus-knight endgame (with a pair of rooks still on the board). Jirasek’s father, who is a really nice guy (just like Taylor’s father) was watching with a worried expression. “What do you think?” he said. “It’s kind of drawish, right?” Well, that was wishful thinking. I had to break the news to him that I thought it looked pretty bad for his son.

With a girl winning the Under-2100 section, it would have been a remarkable coincidence if a woman won the Open section as well. The highest-rated player was Women’s Grandmaster Lufei Ruan. However, she lost to the guy who inevitably seems to win about 75 percent of the Bay Area chess tournaments, International Master Ricardo De Guzman. De Guzman finished with 5½ points, his usual excellent result, while Ruan tied for second with 4½.

Someday I’d really like to sit down with a bunch of De Guzman games and figure out how he does it. Whenever I look at his games, he always seems to be just equal. No crazy attacks going on or anything. And yet somehow he wins, game after game. Against grandmasters his magic seems to run out, but against anybody under 2400 he is as lethal as Magnus Carlsen. Just ask Michael “fpawn” Aigner, who has a lifetime record of 1 win and 26 losses against him (plus 9 draws).

Michael, by the way, was at this tournament. His health issues have still not gone away, but he’s still in there competing. In this tournament he had a great 3-0 start but then ran into the De Guzman Effect. Oops, make that 1 win and 27 losses. Michael ended with a respectable score of 3½-2½, but I’m sure that he is a little bit disappointed this morning too.

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Michael Aigner December 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Yes Dana, I was disappointed after reviewing my games at home. In 5 rounds, I played 4 “bad” games, scoring 2 wins and 2 losses in those games.

You mentioned my encounter with DeGuzman. Despite my poor lifetime record, I often get decent positions against him. Last weekend was no exception, despite multiple inaccuracies in just the first 10 moves (2 by me, 3 by him). Playing black, I flirted with equality and had chances for a small edge. Given my opponent’s ability to milk victories from almost any kind of endgame, I knew that my chances lay earlier in the game. I am disappointed that I failed to seize the bull by the horns. I would have been content with forcing a sterile (drawn) endgame rather than the complex one we played.


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