Monday, May 24, 2010

CyChess Part 1 of 3

  I played in the CyChess tournament in Ames Sunday the 16th. This was my first tournament since last September and I had no idea how I would do. The tournament started at 1PM, so I could get a good night sleep and be well rested. My first game was against Rex Gray from Cedar Rapids. Rex is in his mid 50’s and is a computer programmer.

Rex Gray (left), matching wits with 3 time Iowa Ladies champion Bethany Carson in 2007

  I played Rex in Cedar Rapids in 2006. I had the black pieces in that game and won a close contest. Rex likes to play for tricky tactics and I would have to be on my toes. Statistics say that since I out rate Rex by over 500 points, I should win 99 out of a hundred games. But statistics (and I) didn’t know that just the day before at a tournament in Davenport, Rex beat 2 players stronger than me.

  My hope for the tournament was to gain the 4 rating points I needed to become a 1700 player. My strategy for the game was the usual, avoid mistakes and pounce on any opportunities I’m given. The time control was 40 moves per player for the game. Normally that is plenty of time for me, but for some reason I spent a lot of time thinking about what to do in the middle part of the game and got in terrible time pressure.

  I had to play the last 25 or so moves with less than 10 seconds left on my clock. If you run out of time, you lose the game. Since the tournament provided for a 5 second grace period before the time starts running down, I wasn’t in mortal danger of losing, but it is really nerve wracking to have to sit there while your opponent leisurely decides on his move, knowing you have to make your move almost instantaneously. You are nailed to your seat and if you have to go to the restroom, your options are quite limited. I spent way too much time thinking about which of my pieces was going to move backwards and was lucky to get the win. But a win is a win is a win and I was happy to still be in the running to win the tournament.