Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why are you here?

I'm in the offseason of chess. Perhaps you'd like to visit Wang's Chess House which is full of great new stuff including book reviews, DK Transform has started a very active twitter account by the name 'heuristical', Katar has an entertaining post with repertoire suggestions for black, and Polly has yet more great tournament reports from around the great US of A.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

When does your chess season end?

The World Open was my World Series. Rather than jump right in, I have taken a much needed break. Hey, even professional athletes have a season, and after the end of the season take a deserved break. Unlike professional sports, chess has no built-in season. There are great tournaments almost every month. It is up to each player to decide the tournament for which he is training, the big tournament, and that is the end of his season. Then, take a nice little break to recharge, and come back a better player. Even Bill Buckner had to take a break.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

For the Bibliophile

Tommyg has a nice ranking of the 11 annotated game collections he has finished. While I might quibble here and there (e.g., I still like First Book of Morphy!), overall I find his assessments helpful and sound. It will be interesting to see how he thinks the infamous Zurich 1953 book compares if he reads it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Still recovering from the chess overdose

I appreciate all the kind comments on the previous post. I just responded there (indeed for the first time Blogger said my comment was too long so I had to break it in two).

I haven't touched much chess since the tournament, and I don't want to yet. I'm going to wait until my batteries recharge. I'll still blog lightly, especially the notes I took during the Open.

As for the helpful comments on the previous post, I wanted to highlight one of the things I said to Blunderprone:
People say Michael de la Maza [the Circles guy] burnt out doing the Circles. My hunch is this is partly true, but if you look at his rating page, he stopped playing chess after winning the U2000 section at the World Open. I bet that contributed in a big way to his burnout. To actually focus with the intensity required to do that is amazing.

He took clear first, 8/9 points, in a really tough section of the World Open. I now appreciate just how amazing that performance was. I also appreciate that he subsequently dropped out of chess. His experience contains much for inspiration and caution.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Confession #1: I suck at chess

I played in the U1200 section of the World Open last week. I did horribly. I scored 3/9 points. Two wins, two draws, five losses.

I will post more, a lot more, when I have the heart to think about it. Right now, frankly, I am in the mode where I don't know why I bother with this fucking game. I can't believe I lost some of the games. I'm not one of those poseurs who says "I should have won." No. I lost because I played bad moves, so I deserved to lose no matter how much I may have been ahead.

One thing I will say, the U1200 section at the World Open is just brutal. Those fucking kids with hummingbird parents are annoying. I have never done this poorly in an U1200 section. What they say is true. The World Open is just different. For those that like analogies here is one:
World Open : Normal USCF :: Normal USCF : Internet.

Typically U1200 games are won and lost because of stupid simple tactics. These games were different. I have played up before, and this definitely felt like I was playing up, even though I went in rated 1180 or something.

Until the last day, my losses were fine. No dropped pieces, lots to learn, lots of great battles. By the last day, I had overdosed on chess, didn't care any more, was demoralized, burnt out, exhausted. I lost both games that day.

At any rate, I took copious notes while there, and will post more, including some games. But I figured, given the entire point of this blog, it is just bullshit for me to not 'fess up.

I didn't tell anyone because I was so stressed about the tournament. I didn't want to deal with people commenting to tell them how I was doing, to post games, to give my commentary. I wanted to focus on chess, not my blog.

That said, I think every chess enthusiast should do it once in their lifetime. There is nothing like it I have ever experienced in chess. It is like Mecca: do it once, and you will have spiritual fulfillment. Right now I don't feel that way, but overall I objectively see it was fun, I played the best I could (the first seven games anyway), and the losses will therefore be very instructive. I played the best I could, and still got my ass reamed by some of these whippersnappers.

There are at least two games I will post, my best win and my most heartbreaking loss. For the good game I was able to successfully pull off an exchange sacrifice and generate a nice attack against the King. For the tragic game, I had 2 1/2 points (out of four), was one point out of first, and had white. I was up three pawns about 20 moves in, and then played passively and lost. That game changed me. I realized after that game that, one, I wasn't playing your normal slacker U1200 player. Two, my confidence plummeted. I felt I had no idea how I lost, that I played my best, and that I was simply taken to school. That was a turning point, and after that I didn't win any more games. I drew one, and lost all the others.

There will be more, as I get more relaxed and less melodramatic.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Footage from 2009 World Open

Footage kindly contributed by an anonymous source. Includes bits from Kamsky v Benjamin, Nakamura eating dinner, and Ed Trice selling the controversial book 'My 61 Memorable Games' purportedly by Bobby Fischer. There was some controversy about the existence of such a printed manuscript. This proves the manuscript exists, but whether it is authentic is a different question. Also includes some video of a controversy where the TD steps in in one of the playing halls.