Monday, December 26, 2005

Marshall Chess Club Championship

Much to my surprise and pleasure, I was invited to play in the Marshall Chess Club's Championship tounament (the Edward Lasker Memorial). It was originally supposed to be open only to players rated 2200 and above, but they decided to invite Club members who were National Masters but currently rated below 2200.

Aand so I found myself rated 28th in a field of 35, with 5 GMs and a like number of IMs. I had a plan: I was going to play some new and more solid openings with Black. I figured with opposition of this strength, I'd be doing well to make an even score with White and finish only -2 with Black.

I did a bit better: 1 win, 2 draws, 1 loss with White, 0 wins, 2 draws, and only 1 loss with Black. My losses were against IMs Almeida and Bonin, and I drew IM Naranja, plus I had my first win against a master in a couple of years.

I had losing positions in four or five of my eight games, and was worse in one or two others, but I displayed some good fighting qualities. My tactics remain poor, with a couple of massive hallucinations.

I'm going to try a little experiment here. If this works right, you can click here to see some of my games with very light notes in a new window. If nobody seems to have huge problems with this, I may start making all the javascript boards pop up in their own windows; That will cut down the loading time of the blog.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Remember it's a game

My company just hired a contract programmer from North Carolina to do some work on our mobile device application, and he came up to New York to get started learning the code.

Turns out Ralph's a chessplayer, and I took him to the Marshall Chess Club last night. He watched some of the tournament games in progress, took some photos of the Great Hall, played a little blitz; had a fine time.

I wound up playing a couple of untimed casual games against a gentleman named John. He's a club member, but I don't recall meeting him before. I don't go to the club much except when I'm playing a tournament. Our last game was a battle royal, a seesaw affair that went down to the last Pawn. It was a Rook's Pawn, and so it was a draw--a fitting conclusion to a hard-fought game.

I forgot how much fun casual chess can be. Without the pressure of the clock, without ratings or money on the line, the game becomes part of a conversation. A little friendly banter over the moves, a pretty quick pace (I reconstructed the game scores at home later, and we played about 90 moves in perhaps an hour and a half) but you can take a few minutes over a move when you feel the need, a battle fought keenly but not grimly.

I forgot how much fun chess can be. Thank you, John, for helping to remind me.

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