Saturday, November 23, 2013

For me, progress: I play in a one-night chess tournament, and miss a chance for a big upset; learn the "on any given day" lesson!

I made some personal progress last night.  For the first time since 2000, I played in a chess “tournament” with more than one round.  In fact, this was a three-round “Action” tournament at the Arlington Chess Club in northern VA.

It started rather late, at around 8:20 PM (major league baseball usually starts at around 7, but Sunday and Monday night football start late).  The three rounds were played as Game-30, which means the winner has to compel resignation or confer mate within thirty minutes with a readable score.

My result was a loss, a win and a draw.  The win was with Black.  In the last round, I was lost but my opponent was in time trouble and agreed to a draw.  In the previous action tournament in St. Paul MN, I had one only the last game, conferring mate just as the flag fell.

In the first round I played a high “Expert” who told me later I missed a shot, in the position shown.  That is on move 10 (in the position shown), take the “f7” pawn with the Bishop, followed a move of the Kight to attack the Rook.  I just looked. I think he’s right. Right now, I don’t see a defense. The position arose out of a Grunfeld Defense where Black played his queen bishop pawn one square, unusual (combining it with the Slav Defense). I wouldn’t expect a player of his rating to allow this, but that’s my problem now.

Chess is like other “sports” in a sense, because even though the stronger player usually wins, in any given day anything can happen.  Upsets do occur.  I guess I missed an upset.  The next game, on the other hand, I won quickly with the Black pieces myself, picking off queenside pawns in a Sicilian Defense after White missed a best line and went wrong.

Chess is something people get very good at when they are young  Sometimes, kids reach near master status while still of middle school age.  Learning to play well at that level is like learning to play piano in a sense, or becoming a computer programming prodigy.  It seems more likely early in life before the brain has started pruning its circuits for more focuses adult life.

Technology is important in conducting tournaments.  Software allows the tournament director to assign and print the pairings within five minutes after a previous round, with the help of a modern Sony (or any modern Windows or Mac computer) and small laser or inkjet printer. 
I think that chess has something to do with character development in a “libertarian” sense, because it teaches the idea that specific actions can have specific, sometimes calculable consequences (as in tactics).  Other time, precise consequences, in complicated or obscure positions, are harder to see.  

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