Longtime readers know that I have struggled to secure any hint of a victory when playing against players over-the-board (OTB). I have won (and lost) my share of online blitz and standard games on Chess.com and lichess, but capturing that first victory at a real tournament was elusive. This might not seem like much to a seasoned chess player, but not being able to obtain even a slight advantage in so many games was frustrating. See here, here, and here. However, that frustration came to a close recently with my first OTB victory!
Because it has been awhile since I posted anything of significant here on Campfire Chess, I thought it would be a good idea to share this game with my readers to help celebrate my victory. My opponent was very challenging, but errors were made that turned things in my favor.
The balance of power in a chess game can change with a single blunder or amazing move. Although, in my case it is usually the former. This game was played last night on lichess and while it was heartbreaking, I found it to be a worthy educational experience.
The cycle of life ebbs and flows with some periods being more demanding than others. August to October of this year has been particularly demanding, which forced me to cut down on my chess writing and playing. Curiously, that break preceded a jump in my online game successes both in live challenges and on the damnable Chess.com Tactics Trainer. My online ELO currently sits at 1101, which is the first time it has surpassed that benchmark since March 13 of this year.
Pretty charts, but still a long way to go. (Credit: Chess.com/Campfire Chess)
Of course, some of my recent wins were clearly undeserved (abandoned by opponent, etc.) but I believe that many of them are starting to reflect my constant dedication to studying and learning about the game. For example,
Winning and losing in chess is like the tides, so I am trying to prepare myself mentally for the time when the wins don’t come and the only way ahead seems to be down, like this heartbreaking loss:
Although you’ll be hard-pressed to find many pastors (or people) out there who would admit that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is their favorite film of all time, I am not your typical pastor nor do I like to think of myself as your typical person. When it comes to chess, there is much evidence to support the position that I might be the world’s worst chess player. I have become accustomed to losing just in some of the most interesting and depressing ways over the past few years and I thought I have learned to deal with the trauma that can arise from such an experience, but last Wednesday’s tournament OTB game reminded me of how devastating it can be to make a mistake in a game where I put so much time, effort, energy, and focus. In essence, Wednesday night was an opportunity for me to experience my own Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
As many of you know, I have been playing in my first series of OTB tournaments a few months back, but had to take a break to finish some school and other personal projects. These projects also contributed to the lack of posts here on Campfire Chess, but I digress. Playing in the July edition of this tournament was a last-minute decision, so there was a little bit of hesitation on my part for returning. However, I know that the best way to improve is to continue to play. Unfortunately, my return to OTB play was the stuff of nightmares. Rarely do I go into these situations expecting a win because very few of the players involved in these tournaments are rated anywhere near where I perform. Most of them are the master level or higher including a resident International Master and occasional visits from Grandmasters, which I have written about in the past. However, I can say that I never expected what happened this past Wednesday night. To say that it was traumatic betrays the depth of the experience.
I lost a game in eight moves although I played through to 12 moves for a combined total board time of around 14 minutes. Looking back on things, I realized that it was a simple mistake that ended the game so quickly whether it was rushing or simply not surveying the more properly. It has taken me a few days to get over it, but I have written some commentary on this atrocious game and decided to share it with my Campfire Chess audience. Now, for your viewing pleasure I present to you around one of MHCC July 2016.
Unfortunately, my desire to try again this week has been postponed because of a sick child. As always, family comes first. Therefore, I will have to wait until next week for an opportunity to redeem myself with a reasonable loss.
Another week, another loss. There is no other way to say it: the month of April itself is a loss for me. After watching my online ELO plummet 200 points I have consistently put zeros on the board for every game I have played OTB in the past 30 days. It is easy to get frustrated and want to give up, but these are the kind of times when the true test of resilience presents itself. As Rocky likes to say, it ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep going. And now, full analysis of my game from Wednesday’s tournament at Methodist Hospital. Enjoy!
March has been an incredibly groundbreaking month for me in chess. I started playing in my first ever OTB tournament and had a rare opportunity to participate in a simul (multi-game) event at a local high school this past weekend against Grandmaster Boris Avrukh, who was the U19 Champion in the United States in 1990 and has worked with some of the world’s greatest players.
Some refused to go quietly. (Credit: Campfire Chess)
Additionally, he is the author of several books on 1.d4 and the Gruenfeld Defense. Boris played a simul against 15 people at Saint Anthony Catholic High School in San Antonio over the weekend as part of a public lecture and simul series. After the conclusion of the simul, the Grandmaster stayed behind to talk with the players and present three instructive games from the event and one historical game to illustrate the concept of prophylactic thinking.
Think like a Grandmaster. (Credit: Campfire Chess)
I attended the simul fueled on the adrenaline and excitement of getting to play against a true chess master in a real life simul! These are the events I have dreamed about for years and to have it finally come true was an amazing treat. There is much in my game for me to explore, but here is the initial analysis with Deep Fritz 14 and my own analysis/commentary.
Overall I am happy with the result. I never had an expectation of winning. The pure experience of the moment was what I was going for and it certainly paid off. Looking forward to the next time!
Thanks to Grandmaster Boris Avrukh for taking time to stop by the Alamo City and play chess with fans and for sharing your deep insight into the game with us!