Sunday, March 11, 2012

CyChess #48 - Part 2 of 3

Will Polzin, Iowa State University graduate student

  For the second round of the CyChess, I was paired against Will Polzin. Will is an Engineering graduate student at ISU and a frequent tournament player. Will came to Marshalltown to play blitz once and we have talked at past tournaments, but we haven’t played against each other in a tournament before.

  I’ve come in for some good natured ribbing since I blogged about my Cychess round 1 loss to James Ellis where I was outplayed throughout and then failed to take advantage of a miraculous stroke of luck (Ellis hung his queen and I didn’t take it). A co-worker gently suggested that perhaps I didn't take the queen because 'maybe you don't like girls' (I didn't even know he read my blog). Joe Meyer came down from Waterloo to play in Thursday’s Blitz tournament and in our first offhand game he played the same opening Ellis did, obviously thinking I misplayed the opening somehow. I was getting pasted pretty badly by both Joe and Jaleb for the first half hour of club, but when I managed to beat Joe because he hung his queen in a bad position he said he just wanted to see if I’d learned anything from my game against Ellis on Sunday. Then in the next game Jaleb hung his queen and said he didn’t think I’d actually take it since I missed taking Ellis’ Queen. I was off my game on Thursday and lost to Dave the Barefoot Chess Player when I played passively, got in a bad position, and then almost forced him to win a piece. I then lost a Rook for a bishop against Jaleb, but he went for the checkmate instead of consolidating his material advantage, something went wrong with the attack, and I managed to sneak out an undeserved win in the endgame.

  My friend Bill from down the street is in his 90s but still drives. Last year he had a fainting spell while he was driving and had to stop driving for 3 months until the doctors ruled out a recurrence of the fainting spells. Bill hated not driving but understood why he couldn’t. Imagine if you had a nervous condition that caused you to uncontrollably jump 5 feet straight ahead of you without any forewarning or notice. You probably wouldn’t walk near traffic, and I know I’d stay away from roofs and windows.

  After my misadventures of the first game, that’s sort of how I felt going into this game with Will. I didn’t want to get too close to any open windows in case I had a sudden urge to jump. I wanted to try to keep everything quiet and ease comfortably into the game. This was bad thinking on my part. I would have been better served by trying to remind myself not to get in time trouble instead of shying away from tactics because I missed some free pieces by moving too fast. At the September 2010 CyChess I was a rook ahead with 8 seconds on my clock in my first round game when I left the rook unprotected to a bishop check, but my opponent missed the chance to win the rook and have a sure draw and possibly a win. It was really no different than my game against Ellis except I was performing the sin of commission and my opponent performed the sin of omission. I think the real lesson to learn is that time pressure leads to some really bad mistakes and it pays A) not to get in time pressure and B) look out for bad moves when either player is in time pressure.

Hank Anzis (1706) vs. Will Polzin (1678)
Cychess #48 - 03/04/2012 - Round 2
pgn4web chessboard courtesy of pgn4web.casaschi.net

  A very lucky draw, but I’ll give myself a bit of credit by pushing the envelope and finding activity in a bad situation. It’s easy to discount luck in chess since there is nothing hidden like poker and no random elements like a roll of the dice or a spin of the wheel, but luck is always present. Yesterday I took a ride with Kathy on her weekly visits to the thrift shops for additions to her Christmas Candle collection. She made a left turn and barely noticed that there was a car barreling down the lane she was turning onto, but was able to screech to a halt before we had a car accident. It was lucky she saw the other car in time and a little unlucky that it was there in the first place on the lightly travelled street. In the book Quirkology by Richard Wiseman, the author theorizes that some people are luckier than others simply because they are expecting to be lucky and this helps them to recognize opportunities that other people fail to notice. In chess terms, Will was part of an all-night trivia/scavenger hunt challenge and didn’t get much sleep. This was lucky for me since with a full night’s sleep, Will probably untangles his pieces and wins the game, but I was also in a better frame of mind than the Ellis game and on the lookout for some lucky breaks.