Monday, November 7, 2011

My Best and Worst Wins

My Worst and Best Wins

Usually it's the losses that are miserable. However, in addition to some exciting wins, I have a few miserable ones. I thought I would share them with you. Here is a fun collection of my best wins as a tournament chess player, and certainly my worst. I hope you enjoy.

#3 All-time worst win
Once I was playing this kid rated about 600 points lower than me. I was playing white and from about move 12 was completely winning. I was up a piece, maybe two and I had mate threats all over the board. I spent all this time aggressively pursuing his king, for about 4 moves in a row he had a forced mate in 2 on the board that both of us missed. I was so angry with myself for playing so lazy and sloppy that when the game was over, I shook hands with him, packed up my gear and stormed out of the building. I was so angry with myself I could punched a hole in the space-time continuum. Well I can do that anyway because I’m so awesome, but I’m just sayin’ I was mad.

#2 All-time worst win

I was playing a gentlemen in our club whom I really respect as a person. He’s an older fellow rated about 400 points or so lower than me. On a whim I decided to whip out the King’s Gambit, an opening I have never studied or looked at any lines against. It just looked fun to play so I played it. I got in trouble pretty fast, real fast in fact.  He had me clobbered. I was down at least 2 pawns but even worse than that was that I was totally and completely passive and had absolutely zero chance of making any threats.

My opponent incorrectly started trying to trade pawns, which allowed me to get a passed pawn by refusing a pawn trade. So I had one passed pawn, literally the only beacon of hope in a completely hopeless position. Ten moves or so later my opponent could have even sac’ed a piece for my passed pawn and he would have still been winning.

I traded a knight for three pawns, so I was up a pawn but down a piece, still losing. He threatened my passed pawn with his king, I guarded with a rook and then he jumped a knight in my rook’s path, also guarded by his king. When he made the move, I felt really bad for him. I sac’ed my rook for his knight. If he retook with his king then my pawn promoted. I was up a pawn and now had a passed pawn on the 7th in a rook and pawn endgame. He sat quietly for a second then his lips started quivering. Finally he mustered, “that was a good move” then tipped his King over. I felt pretty awful.

#1 All-time worst win
I was playing a very good player and a friend of mine. We are about equal in rating strength and naturally had a really hard fought game.  We were in an endgame with one set of rooks and one set of minor pieces. I totally missed a tactic and he played a combination where he “sacrificed” his rook for a pawn and then followed up with a knight fork hitting my rook and king, essentially winning a pawn.
We were the last game in the last round of a major tournament. Everyone in the room was waiting for us to finish and numerous people were watching our game winding down. My opponent took my pawn with his rook with check. I thought for several minutes and saw the coming knight fork.

Trying to figure out what I should do, I lost sight of the fact that I was in check. So I moved proudly picked up my rook and moved him to the back rank with check, escaping the knight fork, forcing my opponent to lose his rook. The only problem was, I was in check and could not move my rook.

My opponent grabbed his head and screamed, “OH MY GOD! I resign.” He disgustedly tipped his king over over and outstretched his hand. Everyone standing around us said, “Adam, NO!”
Then Adam said, “Oh. Wait. NO!”

We both realized our mistakes. Unfortunately, it was too late. The tournament director was observing and declared via the rules, once you resign, the game is over, period. No going back. I felt like I was scheduled to be executed and then someone stepped in and said, “No! I’ll be executed for him!” I had that pit in your stomach like when you should have been in a fierce car accident but just missed it.

#3 Best Win
My opponent was a pretty sharp kid, and won the state high school championship the following year. He was rated about 200 points higher than me at the time of the game. At the beginning of the game, he asked me if I wanted to use a time delay clock or not. I told him I did not care, I would leave the decision to him since he was playing black. He opted for no time delay.

I played a really fierce attacking game and even sacrificed a piece for an attack. He’s a good player and put up a stiff defense. But my position was so strong I even overlooked a king and queen fork to a knight. I was angry for a second and then said, “Oh I’m still winning.” And it was true! Two moves later he had to sacrifice his queen or I was going to queen a pawn.

The dust settled and I was up two pawns and easily winning. He was in serious time trouble. With about two minutes to go, he stopped the clocked and said, “I’m going to ask the tournament director for a time-delay clock.” I calmly said, “You can’t do that but whatever, go ahead ask.”

The T.D. came back and ruled against his request, which I knew he would. My opponent got annoyed and resigned two moves later. At the time, he was the highest rated opponent I had ever defeated.

#2 Best Win
I was playing a Class 1925 Class A player and was rated about 1750 or so. I did some opening preparation. On move 6, he played a move I knew was dubious and led to an advantage for me, but I did not know the tactical justification for it. I spent several minutes on move 7 and finally found it. A knight sacrifice! So I played a knight sacrifice on move 7 which led to an amazing advantage for me by force. In order to save his king and queen he had to sacrifice a rook, and even then he was still in trouble. He resigned on move 22. It was my first win over a class A player, and I did it in exciting fashion. Several people told me afterwards they almost fell over when I sacrificed my knight. Really cool feeling.

#1 Best Win
I organized a team tournament in February of 2010. People from all over the state came to play as teams. The entire week prior to the tournament I had the stomach flu. I had lost about eight pounds in the last week and was feeling like death.

The day of the tournament came and I was going to tell my teammate that I was not going to play, I felt horrid. However, upon his arrival the first thing out of his mouth was, “I am so excited about this tournament, I have been looking forward to it for weeks!” I could not let him down, so I made the decision to play.

My first round game I got paired against a guy rated in the 1400’s who was kind of a shark. I had played him before and knew he was a pretty strong player despite his deceptively low rating. It goes without saying, I was not into the game at all. I had no desire to play, no desire to be there. I just wanted to sleep.

Around move 25 or so I walked right into a skewer of my King & Queen to a bishop. In most cases I would have resigned, especially not feeling well, but my opponent picked up his Bishop and slammed it fiercely onto its square. Then he sat back in his chair and folded his arms and crossed his legs and just kind of looked at me. 

Whatever zombie was sitting across from my opponent instantly became a demon.
Whatever lack of desire I had fled at that moment. As far as I was concerned, my sole reason for God putting me on this Earth became winning this chess game. I took his Bishop with my queen, he retook with a pawn.

I played furiously. Every move I made from that point forward had an extremely complex tactical plan behind it. Each move carried multiple threats and flowed with ideas. Every move I made was carefully crafted, rich, complex, and fierce!  He spent a lot of time solving my problems. All of my pieces were slowly moving up the board, creeping into his position, and he spent every move since he won my queen defending, and trying not to lose.

The pressure was mounting for him. I had nothing to lose. On move 42, I calmly leaned over to him and said, “You are out of time. Good game.” He had clocked. I was still in an inferior position and probably should have lost but oh well. I ended up playing like a man possessed the rest of the tournament and ended up gaining 60 rating points.