A Tale of Three Tournaments

Last week my good friend GM Elshan Moradiabadi came to stay with me so we could play in the US Open.

Originally we were going to play in the six day section, but the issue was that he was going to be coming in from Denmark on Monday night and we would have to start playing Tuesday night. As he had played 28 games in the month prior this wasn’t a great solution. So we decided to switch to the four day.

The schedule for the four day was as follows:

  • Day One: Four G/60
  • Day Two: Two G/60 then merge with the rest of the pack and play one more 40/2-SD/1 game
  • Day Three: One 40/2-SD/1
  • Day Four: One 40/2-SD/1

I will have some of the games up over the next several days, but the recap for me is as follows…

On day one in round one I was playing NM Eli Karp. I had a great position.  Clearly better. Then I drifted into equality and then wound up in an endgame where I felt I could hold as long as I did nothing. Then I decided to do something. I lost.

Round Two I was playing a kid I outrated by several hundred points. I miscalculated what I thought was a temporary piece sac which would allow me to either win a pawn or bust open the position. Unfortunately I missed an intermezzo and he won a piece.

Round Three I was again playing a kid I outrated by quite a bit. I was playing well and was in the process of converting when I hung a rook. It was at this point that I realized that I had a psychological issue.  Essentially I was playing pretty well, then managing to fall apart.

Round Four was the one round where I simply played poorly from the start. So at the end of the day I was 0-4.

The next day I came back with renewed focus. I was determined to play much better than I had been.

Round Five I was playing another tail-ender. I won a piece out of the opening when he missed something and never looked back. Sweet, finally on the scoreboard. 1-4

Round Six I played another kid, but he missed a simple win of a pawn in the opening and then let me trade down into an easily winning K&P endgame. 2-4, and more importantly the G/60’s were over.

Round Seven was the only time I played someone I knew. I played horribly in the opening but wound up winning quite easily. 3-4, and at the end of the day I had won ever game after losing them all the day prior.

Round Eight…only one game that day, and again I had a pretty smooth conversion.  So now I sat at 4-4, and more importantly as my original goal going in to the tournament was to go 5-4 and finish +1 I now had a chance to do just that.

That brings us to Sunday afternoon…Round Nine. I had hoped to get one more chance to play up, and when I saw my pairing against wunderkind Alice Lee I realized I had gotten that chance.

She played a Taimanov Sicilian and we were just getting into a very complex and tense position when it happened. “Medical emergency!” I heard  someone shout at the top of their lungs. This was quickly followed by “Does anyone know CPR? He’s not breathing!”

I’ve read on a few occasions about the death of players at tournaments. It happens. But you don’t expect it to happen at an event your at. This was maybe 50 feet from me.

The playing hall devolved into utter chaos. Some people (myself included) stopped their clocks while others tried to keep playing. Eventually after some time most people had stopped their clocks. When the paramedics were pulling in the staff made sure that all games were stopped and people were out of the way.

The paramedics arrived and began frantically working on the gentlemen who collapsed. They did so for about an hour or so and then we were suddenly informed that we all needed to leave the room. I assumed this meant that the gentlemen who collapsed didn’t make it, and sadly that turned out to be the case.

There was a delay of about three hours total, and during that time many players agreed draws without resuming.  I had offered one to my opponent since she said that she was scared. She decided that she wanted to play.

When we resumed I simply couldn’t focus (nor could many others) and quickly went astray in a tactical position.

So when all was said and done I finished 4-5, but really I can live with that. I managed to keep myself from falling apart after my day one disaster, and in the process I learned quite a lot about myself.

I’ll work on analyzing some of the more interesting games and posting them soon.

As for Elshan, he wound up 7-2, drawing four GM’s and beating all non-GM’s he played. He fell a point short of Timur’s performance, but all in all after playing in four countries for five weeks straight it wasn’t anything to be ashamed of.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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