Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It was a chess-filled weekend, and if I wasn't philosophical about my losses it I would have gone berserk with frustration. I mean, cops would have to hold me down for my own good. I trust that many of you know the feeling. After a year's hiatus, I should be more realistic in my expectations. But that is not the only reason for my miserable performance, 1.5/4. I suspect that age and the breakdown of analytical ability is beginning to manifest themselves. The hardware is getting old, and an old engine's compression suffers when the seals are no longer as tight as before. Heck, I am only 52 years old and I am already talking sunset years.

The International Chess Academy in Teaneck, New Jersey held its annual Winter Open at the Bergen Academies in Hackensack. This is a well-run tournament, offering both open and scholastic sections. Our president at the Dumont Chess Mates, Lawrence Constance, performed TD duties for the Open section. He does a very good job at the club, having infused the club with new vitality and spirit. We spoke about how our respective wives are turning into chess widows, the grumblings, the seemingly endless excuses we make so we can attend a chess event. If I heard Lawrence right, he said he almost forfeited a GM when his cell phone rang during the game. All were requested to turn off their cell phones at the beginning of every round.

It was heart-warming to see scores of school children compete, little eager beavers with great expectations and remarkable resilience. Their parents transformed the hallways into their respective battle stations, laid out with their reading materials, laptops, and life-giving food. You know the scene. I thought about approaching a couple and warn them about over feeding their son between rounds. It's all about blood circulation, and how a full stomach keeps blood away from the brain. Well, on second thought, I decided that might be true for older people only.

It was just my damn luck to face IM Alex Lenderman in the second round, having won my first. I played white and the C3 Sicilian. He went into the fianchetto variation with 2...g6. I survived the opening until around the 18th move when that eternal pest of a move Qb6 came up. I hate that move and its counterpart, when you're playing black, Qb3. I reckon the young IM has got everything figured out, and he must have fought valiantly from falling asleep during our game. I remember looking at his clock and he had spent ten minutes to my thirty. Anyway, the outcome was never in question. If I sounded negative, that's not the case. I felt it was a good experience to play against someone rated above 2500. Normally, we would never have been paired but it was a comparatively small open section. In my last round, I was up a bishop but lost it in the rapid play that occurs when each of you have only three minutes left. We drew. What a spoiler. That was Sunday.

Came Monday at the Dumont Chess Mates. I played my last round of quad, thus three rounds altogether but one round a week only. I played a beautiful first round win, then a loss for the second round after my pieces refused to cooperate and coordinate. I always have trouble telling my pieces what to do. This last game, I don't know who was making the moves for me because they were so outrageously weak. I got my two rooks forked, after losing my center pawn gratis. This game, I want to forget. There must be a bubble in my brain, a kind of dead zone or black hole where the electrical messages enter but never leave. Maybe it's time for my first senior tournament.


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