Quickie Post

by admin on November 28, 2008

This weekend I’m playing in the Bay Area Chess Thanksgiving Festival (see www.bayareachess.com).

This is the second tournament I’ve played in that was organized by Salman Azhar; I also played in the Memorial Day Festival earlier this year. He found a much nicer location this time, with a nice, quiet side room for the Master-Expert Section.

Salman runs a lot of scholastic tournaments and has a great operation, but unfortunately he has not figured out how to attract adults to his tournaments. The Thanksgiving Festival has several events going on at once, with 70 to 80 players total, but about 90 percent of the participants are children. For the handful of adults who are playing, it’s kind of a strange experience. We’ve been transported into the world of Scholastic Chess, where kids play and adults watch from the sideline. I feel a little bit like a freak — an adult who actually plays!

However, I don’t mean to be critical. It’s great to see all these kids interested in chess. Perhaps the adult players can serve as role models for them.

The Master-Expert section has only three masters and experts in it. Michael Aigner (aka fpawn) is the master, and I am one of two experts. The other five players are all … you guessed it … scholastic players. Of course, they are the most talented ones, with ratings in the class B to A range.

In today’s first round I played a boy named Kesav, who I would estimate is about 10 years old. We played the “Red Bull Variation” that I just blogged about in Bird by Bird, Part 3A. He played a very calm, mature game until we got to the endgame, and then he started playing like, well, a 10-year-old. It was a completely even endgame, maybe even a little better for him, but he just had no idea what to do. My position got better and better until finally he took a poisoned pawn that allowed me to set up a mating net.

Several months ago Elizabeth Vicary wrote a very insightful and amusing post called “Differences in Scholastic Chess.” (Sample: “Queens are worth ten points… A queen is much better than two rooks. The queen always eventually wins a rook with a double attack.” Etc., etc.)

Elizabeth later clarified that her post was about sub-1200 scholastic players, not 1700-plus scholastic players like Kesav. Even so, the game reminded me of her post. Particularly the part about the difficulty that kids have in concentrating when they play a slow-moving opponent. Kesav was clearly having trouble staying interested in the game, especially after his winning chances evaporated. And the trap he fell into at the end was sooooo obvious. Any adult would have said, “Why is my opponent giving me a free pawn? Oh, I see.” But he just said, “Oh good, a free pawn,” and took it.

In round two I was paired against Michael Aigner. This was a little bit of bad luck. He should have played the number two seed, but the number two seed took a half-point bye. I was not mentally ready to play him yet. I knew I would play him eventually this weekend, but I thought it would come later.

Everything I wrote about Kesav in the last game could apply to me this game. I had a perfectly reasonable middle-game position, and it could have been an interesting battle between my two bishops and Michael’s two knights. But instead I played like a 10-year-old, throwing my pawns at him in a dubious pawn storm and creating gaping positional weaknesses. And then, to top it off … I lost on time.

It’s no disgrace to lose to Michael, but I’m very unhappy with the way that I lost. It was not master chess. I completely failed to stick to my game plan (see this post), especially the part about asking “What would Jesse do?” Jesse (Kraai, that is) would never have played anything remotely resembling the moves I chose.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

thadeusfrei November 29, 2008 at 1:31 pm

yeah whenever I see fpawn playing he seems to be up on time about 10 minutes.

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Michael Aigner November 30, 2008 at 10:21 am

I move a lot slower there days. Dana can confirm that I was *way* down on time in both games on Saturday (vs Splane and DeGuzman).

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thadeusfrei December 1, 2008 at 7:03 pm

oh, did you win those games.

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