Looking back through my games database, this time from 1989, I came across some games that reminded me why I gave up tournament chess. I remembered one particular event quite well even though it was over 20 years ago. I hadn’t played in an OTB event for about 15 years when I decided to play in a small weekender; it was to be my last.
In the first round my opponent was a Soviet master who could not speak English and to this day I’m not sure whatever became of him because after a year or two of playing in local tournaments he just disappeared. After 5 hours play we adjourned a R and P ending. He had been doing what seemed to me a lot of aimless maneuvering and I was pretty confident that I was going to draw. I grabbed a quick fast food lunch and returned to my room and despite my splitting headache, started analyzing the ending. I quickly realized it wasn’t aimless maneuvering he’d been doing. He was pretty subtle about it, but he’d managed to tie down my R and K and I was lost; it was only a matter of time. So I went downstairs and advised the TD I was resigning without resuming play then went back up to my room for a short nap before the start of the second round.
When I showed up for the 2nd round, still with a headache, I discovered I was playing a 2100 rated player who was down from master. We produced a game that at first glance looked pretty interesting and I was going to show it here, but after letting Houdini analyze it I decided it was too embarrassing to show. For those who think 2000-rated players, even including low-rated masters play good games all the time…well, they don’t so take heart when you play one. They are capable of playing pretty badly some times.
I remember at one point near the end of the game thinking for a long time before playing a surprise move…one that I thought might catch him off guard. He in turn thought a long time, looked up, smiled and whispered, “Ya almost got me!” then he played a crusher that left me in a mating net. By this time there was only enough time to gulp down another fast food meal and take something for my headache that was coming back. I was also wishing I had something to correct what the two rushed fast food meals were doing to my stomach. So when I sat down around 8:00 PM to play round 3 against another 2000+ opponent I offered to trade off all the pieces and it was obvious he was pretty agreeable so we played a quick draw. He told me after the game that he hadn’t felt like playing…I understood completely.
Sunday wasn’t so bad. I had time for a leisurely breakfast and felt pretty good. The only thing that concerned me was the weather. They were predicting snow that afternoon. Anyway, rounds 4 and 5 went well as I had fairly easy wins over 1700’s.
The only problem Sunday was driving home in the dark with it snowing like crazy. Nothing had been done to the Interstate, it was slicker than snot, and there were numerous spin outs all the way home. A normal two hour drive had turned into nearly 4 hours. Of course by the time I got home I had another headache. That’s when I decided to stick to correspondence chess…I play when I feel like it and if I don’t feel like, I don’t have to.