Monday, August 27, 2012

1 Wrong Move vs 145 Right Ones

1 wrong move versus 145 right moves sounds like a good batting average for a chess tournament--especially considering my sewing right stitches vs. sewing wrong stitches average.

When it comes to sewing quilt blocks, I'm afraid I'm a total failure.  I seem to put in 1 good stitch for every 100 I take out--and in the end, my blocks are still mismatched and the wrong size!  Truth is, I've found what my calling in life isn't--I'm not cut out to be a seamstress! But that doesn't mean I'm going to quit trying...I pick up a new project every once in a while to remind myself how much I dislike sewing, and someday (who knows?) something might click.

In any case, trying to sew quilt blocks for one of my friends was what I did Friday to help prepare me to deal with any mistakes I should make at the tournament Saturday.  I worked off any frustration I had accumulated sewing by throwing and catching footballs with my sister and brother until it was so dark outside we could hardly see the ball.  Then I came inside to get the directions and realized just how much time I had spent throwing.  I could hardly hold a pen; my muscles were so worn that my hand was incredibly shakkkky.  I did manage to scrawl out the directions in the most terrible handwriting I've had in ages.

My handwriting after throwing footballs

My normal handwriting
The next morning, I got up shortly before 7:00.  We packed our bags with the normal tournament supplies: a few chess sets, a chess clock, pens, a few sandwiches, and lots of cookies.  Then Papa, my little sister, and I jumped into the van and left.  My brother wished us the best, but I did note his skepticism about where we'd end up (considering that I ended up at a mental health institute last time I tried to get  directions, I don't blame him [The mental health institute was 206 W Church St., I had intended to go to 206 E Church St. but got my directions mixed up]).We stopped at McDonald's for pancakes for my sister and sausage McMuffins for my dad and I, and we bought some delicious donuts from a convenience store; other than that, it was an uneventful drive.    Thank the Lord, we arrived safe and sound at Clarion Hotel where the tournament was being held in Iowa City .

We signed in at the registration desk with tournament directors Mark Capron and Jim Hodina, and checked out the tournament room.  The room the reserve section was in was called "The Mirror Room."  There were lots of mirrors on the walls which brightened the place up considerably considering there were few windows.  I talked my little sister, Frank Li, and Jake S. into playing a few games of bughouse while we waited for the first round.  Soon we had a crowd of onlookers and ready replacements for Frank when he was called downstairs for the first round of the Open section.  There were enough onlookers to start another bughouse match, so we moved our boards over and a couple more boards were set up beside us for more bughouse!

The first round came all too soon, and I found myself on board 2 (I was rated 1552 USCF) playing Stanley Felgar  (1200+). The game was pretty even coming out of the opening. But I was thinking of Tal's (not so kind) advice, "You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5 and the path leading out is only wide enough for one."  Of course I play nothing like Tal--I play much too safe--but I decided to make as many problems as possible for my opponent and hope he would give a wrong response. He gave the right answer for the first problem. Next, I decided to sac a bishop and knight for a pawn and rook. After I took the pawn, I realized it would do no harm to look for bigger game, so I took a shot at his queen by placing my knight at a square that threatened her (I think an idea from bughouse helped me here). Pretty soon the queen was dancing across squares looking for a place to hide, but there was none and I got a queen for a bishop. The rest of the game, my opponent gave a good fight, but nothing is easy a queen behind.


 Sarah Faith and Papa's games were still being played, so I pulled out my Kindle (which I definitely recommend--it is much better than paper books) and read a captivating book on money management.  When their games were finished, we bought some delicious slices of pizza and enjoyed a good lunch.

Tournament score-sheets--almost worse writing than post-football hand writing!

The second game, I played Kevin Hyde.  I came out of the opening even and towards the end of the mid-game, I had a significant advantage.  Then Mr. Hyde sacced his rook for a bishop.  I noticed that if I took the rook, my king would become exposed; but I didn't see mate.  If I had ignored the rook sacrifice and played on, I still would have had a material advantage, but greed came into play and I made my 1 bad move.  I took the rook and was shocked by a quick and efficient check mate in 2.  

While we waited for the next round, my sister, an elementary student, Richard Rector (I've had some great games with him in previous tournaments), and I had fun playing bughouse. Way too soon, pairings for round 3 were posted! ( I needed to remind myself, I was there for the tournament, not to play bughouse). I was "de-moted" to board 4 for my loss. My opponent was Mr. Higgins, and we had a pretty good game which I eventually won.

 While I waited for the next round, I read from my book a little more, had a few interesting conversations with chess players and chess parents, and (guess what?) played more bughouse! 

 The next round, I found myself back on board 2. My next game, against Robert Vance, was extremely challenging.  When we reached the endgame, I had a rook to his bishop and 1 more pawn, but he held me off in the endgame for a long time. It finally payed to have the extra pawn though, and I finished the tournament with 3 wins/1 loss.


While Papa's game was being finished, my sister and I got a bit of exercise taking walks up and down the halls and watching the games downstairs.  Downstairs in the Open section everyone was as quiet as church mice, but to my surprise there were some players wearing earplugs.  I guess they didn't want to take any chances of being distracted.

I finished in a tie for 3rd with 3 other people in the Reserve section.  Congratulations to the winners, Xin Lu Huang and Kevin Hyde, and many thanks to the tournament directors and all of the players and parents of players who made the tournament (and the in-between-rounds bughouse games) so fun!

Three final round games in the Reserve section

My good (decent) move to bad move ratio (145 to 1) at the chess tournament is much better than my good stitch/bad stitch ratio, but where oh where is perfection?   

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