Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My experience in the 114th Annual Minnesota Chess Open, part IV: Wrap-up

Saturday was a very exhausting day, and I was disappointed with my results (0-3-1) as well as with Saturday night's game. I knew I'd be sitting at the bottom couple of tables, just as I did for the last two rounds of the HB Tournament last year.

I was on the second to last table, and one of the players on the last table said, "Tough to be here, huh?" I agreed. But, I think it is important to remember that although we are sitting at the highest numbered tables, it does not mean we have lame or uninteresting games. My last round at the HB Tournament last year was a Rook, Knight, and Pawns (mine) against a Queen and Pawns (his) endgame. My opponent did win, but I made that one as difficult as I could. I enjoyed playing it, especially as I was considering withdrawing for the last round and just watching the top boards.

Also, a player should not let a low score interfere with appreciation of well-played games against good opponents. As I checked out the pairing tables, I saw that my first round opponent was sitting on Board One for our section against the eventual winner of our section, Chris Gill, who I played in the Minnesota Class tournament in December. I thought, "Well, if I got a draw against the first board player, I can't be doing all bad."

Back to my own game: I was pleased to be playing Black against Steve Helmueller for the fifth round. We played in the Minnesota Open last year, and he and his wife are very nice people. I spoke with both of them last year.

Steve played 1.d4 this Sunday morning, as he did last year. (No one played 1. e4 against me this time, so I got great experience in Queen Pawn openings this tournament. I needed the practice.) We had a very interesting position after the first five moves:

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d6 3. c4 g6 4. b4! I never saw that before, but I enjoyed the novelty and engaged in a game that certainly did not come from any rote memory. 4...b6. 5. e3 Bb7. This was going to be a memorable game!

(I've already entered it in Chessmaster and will look at the analysis later, but I wanted to enter it and show it to the readers as I thought it was a tricky game.)

We had a middle game that featured my winning an exchange of my Knight for his Rook, but as the endgame developed, I wondered now if having played 21...Nxb2 would have been better by depriving him of one of his Bishops which featured so prominently in the endgame.

We traded down to a Rook and two Bishop vs two Rooks and Bishop endgame, with many Pawns left on the board. Whereas I felt I had the end before the endgame, I saw any real or imagined advantage disappearing. Steve used those two Bishops quite well, and I am sure I could have resigned much earlier. However, I was trying to hang in there and be sure I was evaluating everything the best I could.

When I resigned, I gladly shook my opponent's hand. I spoke to Steve's wife shortly thereafter, and told her about our tough game that he won. She told me that he enjoys playing chess against me. That made me smile, which came through my tired visage.

Rich and I met for lunch, and I told him that I was thinking about withdrawing for the last round. One of the perks was that I would get home early, not making my wife a "chess widow" for any longer this weekend, and have some time with both her and our son.

When I got back to talk to the TD, I found that I got the 1-point bye for the last round. That is a bit humbling, but should not have been unexpected. One other nice thing came out of that, though. Besides making it home early, which was greatly appreciated by all three of us, I got to play an extra rated game against a new member to the USCF. It was her first rated game. I thought she played a very good game.

So, this ends my stories about this weekend's tournament. I will be posting most of the complete games later.

Minnesota, chess

1 comment:

TerraPraeta said...

Hey Joe --

Sounds like you had a great weekend, even if you didn't rank as well as you liked. I especially liked part II -- playing with friends is the best :-)