Wednesday, December 8, 2010

CyChess Part 1 of 3

  This past Sunday I went to play in the CyChess tournament in Ames. CyChess is held 4 times a year by Ames chess coach Roger Gotschall and is one of my favorite chess tournaments. I can leave my house at 12, play 3 games with 45 minutes per player, and be home by 7:00 all for a reasonable $5 entry fee. As usual, I took local high school chess player Jaleb Jay with me to the tournament. But this time, 3 of our regular adult players from the Marshalltown Chess Club’s Thursday night quick chess tournaments came along to play. Jon McCord and Scott Ramsey-Smith had played in my tournament in October and this was their first out of town tournament. Jerry Morris has been playing at the club since late October and this was his first tournament at a longer time control than our 10 minute per player games. Casual players like Jon, Scott, and Jerry find it hard to see the fun in playing in a tournament where you may be playing for 8 to 12 hours in a day, not counting travel and eating. The older I get, the less I can understand it either.

Matt Kriegel of Tama, Iowa

  I had a good 2 weeks of preparation, playing on the internet and doing lots of tactic puzzles and felt I was ready to have a good performance despite not having played in a tournament since last May’s CyChess except for our local quick chess sessions. Since 5 of us were going, I took my wife’s minivan, but I locked myself out of the house when it was time to go. It was probably bad karma since not only was I taking my wife’s car, it was her birthday and I was off to play chess. Luckily, I have a fantastic wife and Kathy understood my chess ‘jones’. I managed to find a spare key and got my keys and picked up Jaleb and met the rest of the guys at the Salvation Army and we were off at 11:40.

  The tournament was held at the Iowa State University Microbiology building. We got in, paid our entry fees, and had a half hour or so to hang out before the start of the tournament. Roger was pleased to have 3 players from Marshalltown that had never played out of town before. At the tournament, we met 2 more regulars from our Thursday night blitz tournaments, Matt Kriegel from Tama and Steve Jacobs of Des Moines.

  I was the second highest rated player and paired against Matt Kriegel in the first round with the White pieces. Matt is in his 30s and doesn’t drive or work so his parents or his sister take him to play chess. I’ve played Matt a number of times in the Marshalltown quick chess tournaments and have never lost to him. He is a solid player who stays away from tactics. He’s had me beat a few times, but so far I’ve always managed to mix the game up and steal the victory from him on those occasions. He will fall for 2 move combinations and will occasionally resign a position after a strong looking move even though he can still fight for a draw or even a win. Statistics say I should beat Matt 99.9% of the time, but statistics don’t know that he drew a player as strong as me at the September Cychess.

  Looking at this game a day or 2 later, I’m disappointed in not winning but more disappointed at misplaying the rook ending since I thought there was a win while playing but I just couldn’t find it in the time I had left. At the time, though, I was very happy at not losing the game given the very poor position I saddled myself with. Matt and I went over the game a little afterwards and it looked to me then and now that he played very well and deserved the draw at least.

  The other Marshalltown players did very well. Jon and Scott lost to higher rated players, but Jaleb beat the top seed Tim Crouse who was rated 400 points above him and Jerry beat Roger with a big king side attack. Roger only plays when there is an odd number of players. I never play in tournaments when I’m directing (except for the 10 minute Thursday tournaments). I normally am one of the last players to finish and when I’m directing a tournament, I feel I have to monitor the games where the players are running out of time in case there is a problem. I just can’t do that when I’m playing also. Roger told me later that he was filling out some USCF paperwork during the game with Jerry and before he knew it he was lost. I told him he should have given Jerry more respect than to do paperwork during the game.

  My round one draw meant I wouldn’t be playing the stronger players in the tournament and my chances of winning would depend on a lot of upsets and draws to allow me to scramble back for a tie. But as the Optimists Creed goes, I tried to ‘forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future”...