Monday, March 14, 2005

Why I am "Der Alter Goniff"

Back in the day, someone--probably Nick Conticello--called me that after watching me pull a win out of a hopeless position. Several times, in one weekend tournament. "Ah, der alter goniff hat wieder geschwindlet", he said after the last one; back then, if you were a New York chessplayer, you knew at least a few phrases of Yiddish, mostly insulting. "The old thief swindled one again."

Anyway, a lot of my games used to be like that--ugly wins from obscure (and usually bad) positions. I don't think anyone else has ever called me an alter goniff, but it's how I think of myself as a chessplayer.

I'm still a swindler at heart; although I'm older and slower and my tactics are not sharp, I've found other ways of winning ugly. Here's a game from just this weekend:

The morals of the story are: 1) Don't be afraid to play a simple balanced position against a lower-rated opponent. Chess is deep. 2) It's usually right to keep the tension in a position unless resolving it is obviously favorable.

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