Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Des Moines Fall Classic

The Des Moines Fall Classic chess tournament this year was held at Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny and directed by Matthew Jacob with 75/5 time controls. 

We started our drive at 6 AM, delivered a load of concrete pads, and enjoyed sausage egg McMuffins.  The first round started late, so I chatted with fellow participants, and a few kindly answered my survey on chess player psychology
My first opponent was John Herr (1798), an experienced tournament veteran.  I remembered him playing on the top boards at CyChess L in 2012, so I determined to take my time and be careful.  The opening was a delightful straight-from-the-book example of the open variation of my beloved Sicilian Dragon.

Move 7. f3 appeared to be preparation for 0-0-0 and the always exciting storm-the-opponent's-castle routine.  Since I've played the "0-0 and defend" line very often and was downright tired of it, I decided to delay castling as long as possible so as not to give him a target while I increased pressure on the queenside.

After 23... Bf5 was allowed, 24. R1d3 offered me a huge advantage if I had continued the pressure with 24...a4.  However, I was so excited that I could actually be up an exchange that I didn't look any further than Bxd3.  I missed another opportunity on move 38 when I played Kc8 instead of Kd8.  (Believe me, few things are as depressing as a Houdini postmortem analysis of a game!)  Finally, under time pressure I missed a fork, and John won the exchange back with 41. Na6+. 

The next moves were pawn-grabbing struggles for dear life.  I had to stop notation due to time constraints, but we finally agreed to a draw with a queen, two pawns, and less than a minute each.  It was an exciting but seriously flawed game.

My second round opponent, who had opted for a half point bye in the first round, did not show up.  While I waited for either my opponent to show up or his time to expire, I watched the games of  my family and others, took a few photos, doodled (attempted to zentangle), and tallied the colors of shirts worn by fellow participants.  First place went to black shirts (7), second to blue (6), and third to gray (4).  I also noted that a majority wore tennis shoes, a logical and comfortable choice for a long day of chess playing.  (In case you're wondering, yes, it was a very boring way to win.)
The third round, I played against the tournament director, Mathew Jacob (1811), on board 2.  He seemed slightly distracted by his directing responsibilities, which made it easier for me as he was not as concentrated as he could be. 

After 10.g3, I held my breath, hoping he would not play Qd5 and capture my precious pawn.  Thankfully (for me) he missed it and that pawn was a big help in creating a comfortable home for my knight on d6.  We reached an even endgame, but I was able to bring my rooks to the 7th rank where they proved an effective nuisance and picked up an extra pawn.  Then an unfortunate forced mate in 3 ended the game.

Jose Gatica, an instructor at the Des Moines Chess Camp and one of the best players in the state, showed up to check on the tournament, and we enjoyed some bughouse while relaxing for the last game.

In the final round, there were 4 players undefeated with 2.5 points each.  Dan Brashaw (2189), a former Iowa High School State Champion, was paired against John Herr (my first round opponent) on board 1.   I was paired against Joseph Wan on board 2.  
"What's your rating?" he asked me.  "1596, what's yours?" I replied.  His was 2060.   I encouraged myself with everything I'd learned, "Play the position, not your opponent.  If you don't make a mistake you won't lose against anyone.  There's a best move in any position; you just have to find it."

It's hard to find the best move against an expert who will pounce on every tiny mistake!  I lost a pawn on move 18 and then cracked miserably under time pressure (the game continued hopelessly a few moves after the end of my notation).  Nonetheless, I was happy to survive as long as I did.  I lost with less than a minute remaining on my clock.

After the tournament we listened to students singing a beautiful rendition of "It is Well With My Soul," and then left.

Congratulations to Dan Brashaw and Joseph Wan who won the Open, and Joseph Weinrich who won the Reserve.  Thanks to Mr. Jacob for directing a very fun (and inexpensive) tournament!  I was delighted that a few of my family members opted to come, and I look forward to the next tournament!

54 comments:

  1. OH- I am so glad it went so well for you. I have never played chess at all but always thought it was a wonderful game. I had several relatives that played but I never learned...darn it. Hope you have a wonderful upcoming weekend- xo Diana

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  2. This is so cool, Bethany, and congratulations to anyone who understands it. LOL I'm not kidding that I think it's cool. I would have loved to be one of those chess-playing kids, I'm too ADD for that. :-)

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    1. The good part about playing longer games online as opposed to in tournaments is that you can play chess, write emails, eat lunch, and watch Youtube at the same time... ;) (Please do not tell any of my fellow chess players I am not always intently concentrating!)

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  3. Sounds like you had an enjoyable time, Bethany.
    We had friends go to Faith Baptist Bible collage some years ago. I was able to visit there in Ankeny Iowa a couple of times, lovely place.
    Have a wonderful week-end!

    Blessings, Debbie

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    1. Oh wow! There were photos of the alumni from various years on the wall that I studied between rounds...very neat to learn that some of those people in the photos were probably your friends! And it's awesome you've been to Ankeny!

      Have a great weekend as well!

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  4. Kudos to you Bethany for your work in this tournament! I played Chess with my Dad growing up and thought it was tough then!

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    1. It can be a very tough game! My dad taught me how to play, so nice to hear you played chess with your dad as well. Thanks Michelle!

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  5. sounds like you know your stuff. Glad you did so well, maybe next year you will win.

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    1. That would take a lot of good fortune I'm afraid! Thanks for the good wishes!

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  6. Sounds like you had a great time, Bethany. I don't know a thing about chess, but I greatly admire those that can play the game :)

    Hugs to you!

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    1. Thanks Stephanie! I did have a great time. Blessings to you!

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  7. How wonderful is this!!! I would love for my kids to learn to play chess as I never did. Well done and a wonderful blog you have here! Nicole

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    1. Thanks Nicole! It would be great if your kids could learn.

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  8. Congratulations to you, Bethany! Sounds like you had a great time, too! :)

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  9. Hi Bethany, just popped in to thank you for visiting my blog. You seem to be a very talented chess person. Unfortunately I tried and failed to master the game.

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    1. I'm still working on it. The beauty of chess is that there's always more to learn; I fail quite often but try to learn from my mistakes. Thanks Valerie!

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  10. Congratulations Bethany!! I won't pretend to understand Chess though. I am more of a Checkers guy LOL

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    1. Checkers are fun too...though I play checkers so infrequently I'm afraid I'd be crushed; they're not my forte!

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  11. Good job Bethany! Wow! So this is how real chess players talk? I tried to read it and go with it, but frankly I got lost. I'm still grateful that your share it with us. Thank you! And maybe if I keep reading your chess posts I'll get to understand it better, my daughter will love that!

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    1. I am sure there are some things that would sound pretty strange unless you'd heard the terms before, but the moves of the game demonstrate what I describe if you play through them. All the best to you and your daughter in improving your chess! It's a good game to work on!

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  12. it's just wonderful to see a "sport/game" that involves both young and older people. something you can participate in at any age. sounds fun and a lil complicated (I don't know how to play)!!! congrats to you Bethany, what a thrill!!!

    ps...it looks a little greek to me!!! hehehe

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    1. Yes, it is awesome to be around people of all ages...and to know that everyone is as welcome at the age of 5 as they would be at 20 or 85!

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  13. I am very impressed - and congratulations that you "kept alive" for so long. In my eyes you did extremely well.

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  14. You are a young woman of many talents, Bethany.
    Debbie
    xo

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  15. Great Job Bethany!!! So glad you enjoyed it and shared with us the results :) You are so talented. God loves you my dear friend! My husband used to play chess and he is quite good player!

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    1. Neat that your husband plays chess! Blessings to you Liuba and thanks for dropping by!

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  16. Bethany, I'm really impressed with your knowledge and skill; it seems to me a very difficult game to play well. I don't seem to be able to think ahead all the different possible moves. Sounds like it was a great tournament. Thanks for sharing with us!

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    1. Thinking ahead is indeed a challenge! Sometimes I have trouble with that aspect as well...and when I fail at it, my failure is usually severely punished! It's pretty important. Thanks Deborah!

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  17. You play chess! How wonderful!
    Sounds like you had a good time. You must have lots of patience. :)

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  18. Amazing event! You should definitely be proud of how far you've gone. I would barely have time to sit down before I'd have to leave :)

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    1. Thankfully they let people stay for the whole tournament regardless of whether they win or lose; when a person loses, he/she is sent to a lower board to play a less difficult opponent. I was pretty happy to survive as long as I did without having to move to a lower board!

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  19. I started playing chess when I was a about twelve, I guess. We had asked for a chessboard for Christmas one year, and my younger brother and I started many a marathon! It is certainly a game of skill, concentration and strategy. Kudos to you for doing so well. Sounds like you had a lot of fun, too!

    Poppy

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    1. Sounds like you and your brother had a lot of fun! Thanks for sharing your memories!

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  20. That's a great game.

    All my siblings are very good chess players.
    Glad you enjoy the game.

    Peace :)

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    1. Awesome to hear all your siblings play chess! You must have a very thoughtful family ;) Blessings to you Chandra!

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  21. Oh it sounds like great fun for a chess enthusiast like yourself. I no longer play Chess; it gives me a headache within two minutes. My brain was obviously not wired for such intensity. =D

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    1. It was fun for me...but you are right, sometimes playing can be pretty intense.

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  22. Though I haven't played chess in years, I found your post fascinating! Counting the shirt colours, huh? Who would have guessed? That really made me smile. I wonder if chess-playing personalities in general wish to blend into the crowd? Your excitement and enthusiasm and just plain enjoyment came through beautifully in this post, Bethany!

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    1. Thank you Carol...there are just so few things a person can do while sitting and waiting for an opponent! I figured a research project on the colors of chess player's shirts wouldn't hurt ;) The colors would indicate a desire to blend in (few really wore statements), but it may be in part to compensate for everything else about chess players that make them stand out from the crowd...or maybe just a taste for comfort during the long hours spent playing. (I wore a black/gray sweater because that was what I was most comfortable in.)

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  23. Chess is all "greek" to me as I've never played. Sounds like you had a good time though.

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  24. Hi Bethany--congratulations on your fine performance and cool blog, which I stumbled across while on FICS (I'm TyroLoco). I was wondering if you could share with us how you first became interested in chess? I ask because I have a 7 year-old daughter who I think would be interested, and I would like to encourage her without being pushy. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks for visiting my blog! My dad started teaching me to play chess when I was 5 or 6 because he wanted an opponent. We played off and on, and he often helped me, gave me take-backs, and material odds. Then we started going to tournaments together--and with the rest of my family too sometimes: we all play chess. It's been a lot of fun, and I'm very grateful my papa taught me how to play. My dad has a FICS account too; you might find it interesting to talk with him. All the best in teaching your daughter!

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