I am sitting here in a stuffy room in the bowels of the hotel. I have finished my last game. I am waiting. I hate waiting. What makes this different is that I am waiting for my prize check!
Yes, I finished in the money for the second straight time. I don’t know how it happened but I managed to put it together over the course of four days and avoid serious blunders, execute my plans and generally play good chess. Not world class, mind you, but great for my level.
Round Two found me paired with a young man making the trip from Utah. He was very polite, made conversation, and shook hands like he meant it. We played a long, back and forth game. We took turns playing well and making mistakes. Our game definitely demonstrated the adage: “The winning player is the one who makes the next-to-last mistake.” Unfortunately for me I made the final mistake. Still, it was a good game for me because I kept fighting and showed some good endgame skill, right up until the time I blew it! (g) We checked on each other for the remainder of the tournament and, in fact, ended up tied for 4th-5th place.
Round Two was critical for me. Before I left home my daughter made me a good-luck bracelet out of black-and-white rubber bands. As it turns out she may have the touch! In 2010 when the Giants needed a critical win in the playoffs she made a chain of colored paperclips and put it on my Giants hat. We all know how that turned out for the boys by the bay! My bracelet worked, as I would not lose another game for the remainder of the tournament.
I had made a deal with myself that if I won both of my Day Two games, I would not take a bye in round five to watch the NFC Championship game. Since I made a draw I did take the bye and watch that heartbreaking contest. This was another game that was long and went back and forth. My endgame technique is not all it should be and I had to settle for a draw.
Round Three. A rematch from my previous tournament with the only player to beat me in that contest and one of the other three players I shared 1st-4th place with. Only thing to relate about this one is an anecdote. After I made my 23rd move I forgot to punch the clock. It took me twenty minutes to notice. My opponent and I shared a chuckle when I finally noticed. He jokingly said his last hope was to win on time.
Round Four. Nothing really to say about this one. A good reminder to my chess students to be very careful about moving your “Foolish Freddie” (f-pawn)!
Round Five. During this round I was having my heart broken and my soul trampled watching football. It was still a great game and a great year for my Niners. Also, better to lose with dignity than win with no class. Enough said.
Round Six. I had a nice attack but I forgot my own advice, that one more piece is always good when attacking. My rampage faltered, but my opponent traded his rook and a pawn for my bishop and knight. I got some nice endgame practice and he made me checkmate him, which is fine.
Round Seven. Just like last time, I did not really think I had much chance for money. I just played. I am proud of this game because it is very tactical, with lots of forks and pins. When it was over and I recorded my result, a little simple math told me I was tied with my first-round opponent for 4th-5th place! Also, since he was the top Under-1150 finisher he got that prize and I got the full Fourth-Place purse, so we both got a little bit more than normal. Way to go Jake!
Biggest thing I learned from this weekend was that I need to find an effective way to study endgames. Suggestions anyone? I think my tactics and fighting spirit are coming along nicely and I have a nice, simple, workable opening repertoire.
One last thing before the games, to be filed in the “Cosmic Justice” file. A player who drove everyone nuts got his comeuppance. In Las Vegas last month he asked a tournament director to stop his clock until he felt better! During the sixth round he was playing a little kid on the board next to mine. When I was cleaning up after my game I noticed the man had been gone for about twenty minutes. I looked at the board and the man was two moves away from promoting a pawn and winning the game. I jokingly asked the boy’s mother if the opponent had gone to lunch! I heard later that the crazy man didn’t like the kid so he did go to lunch. His intention was to make the boy wait, then he would come back and finish. Well, when he did return the boy and his mother were leaving. The crazy man told them they had to go back and that the game was not finished. The boy very politely informed him that the game was over. It turns out crazy man, in addition to being annoying, can’t tell time. He miscalculated his time remaining and lost when the flag fell!
Bolen,Jake (1094) – D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1178) [A46]
5th Golden State Open Concord, CA (1), 17.01.2014
1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 c5 3.c3 Nf6 4.Bf4 Nc6 5.e3 Be7 6.Bd3 0–0 7.0–0 b6 8.Nbd2 Bb7 9.Nc4 d5 10.Nce5 c4 11.Nxc6 Bxc6 12.Ne5 Bb7 13.Bc2 Nd7 14.Qh5 Nf6 15.Qh3 Ne4 16.f3 Nf6 17.Bg5 g6 18.Qh6 Nh5 19.Bxe7 Qxe7 20.g4 Ng7 21.f4 f5 22.g5 b5 23.Rf3 Nh5 24.Rh3 Qg7 25.Qxg7+ Kxg7 26.Nd7 Rfd8 27.Nc5 Bc8 28.a4 Rb8 29.axb5 Rxb5 30.Rxa7+ Kh8 31.b4 cxb3 32.Bxb3 Bd7 33.Nxd7 Rxb3 34.Nf6 Nxf6 35.gxf6 h5 36.Rg7 Rg8 37.Re7 Rbb8 38.f7 Rgf8 39.Rxe6 Kg7 40.Rg3 Kxf7 41.Rgxg6 Rg8 42.Ref6+ Ke7 43.Kf2 Rxg6 44.Rxg6 Rb2+ 45.Kg3 Re2 46.Kf3 Rxh2 47.Rg2 Rxg2 48.Kxg2 Kf6 49.Kg3 Kg6 50.Kh4 Kh6 51.Kg3 Kg6 52.Kh3 Kh6 53.Kh4 Kg6 54.Kh3 Kh6 55.Kg2 h4 56.Kh2 Kg6 57.Kg2 Kh6 58.Kh1 Kh5 59.Kh2 Kg4 60.Kg2 h3+ 61.Kf2 h2 62.Kg2 h1Q+ 63.Kxh1 Kf3 64.Kg1 Kxe3 65.Kg2 Kd3 66.Kf3 Kd2 67.c4 dxc4 68.d5 c3 69.d6 c2 70.d7 c1Q 71.d8Q+ Ke1 72.Qe7+ Kd2 73.Qe3+ Kd1 74.Qxc1+ Kxc1 75.Ke3 Kc2 76.Kd4 Kd2 77.Ke5 Ke3 78.Kxf5 Kd4 79.Kg6
Weimer,Dennis (1281) – D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1178) [D35]
5th Golden State Open Concord, CA (2), 18.01.2014
1.d4 e6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 d5 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nge2 Be7 7.b3 cxd4 8.exd4 Bb4 9.0–0 Bxc3 10.Nxc3 Nxd4 11.Bxh7 Qc7 12.Qxd4 Rxh7 13.g3 e5 14.Re1 Ng4 15.Nxd5 Qd6 16.h4 f6 17.Qd3 Rh8 18.f3 Qc5+ 19.Be3 Nxe3 20.Qxe3 Qd6 21.Rad1 Kf7 22.Nc3 Qe6 23.Nb5 Qh3 24.Qf2 Bd7 25.Nd6+ Ke7 26.Qg2 Qxg2+ 27.Kxg2 b6 28.f4 Rh5 29.fxe5 fxe5 30.Kf2 Rf8+ 31.Kg2 Bc6+ 32.Ne4 Rf6 33.Rd2 Rfh6 34.Kh2 Bxe4 35.Rxe4 Ke6 36.Kh3 Kf5 37.Rde2 Ke6 38.Rf2 g5 39.a3 gxh4 40.gxh4 Rf5 41.Rxf5 Kxf5 42.Rg4 e4 43.Kg3 e3 44.Rf4+ Ke5 45.Kf3 e2 46.Re4+ Kf5 47.Rxe2 Rxh4 48.Rd2 Rh3+ 49.Ke2 Rh2+ 50.Kd3 Rh7 51.Kc3 Rc7 52.Rd3 Ke6 53.Kb4 Rc5 54.a4 a5+ 55.Kc3 Ke7 56.Rd5 Ke6 57.b4 Rxd5 58.cxd5+ Kxd5 59.Kd3 axb4 60.Kc2 Kc4 61.Kb2 b3 62.Ka3 b2 63.Ka2 Kb4 64.Kxb2 Kxa4 65.Ka2 b5 66.Kb2 b4
D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1178) – Benaid,Henry (1297) [C50]
5th Golden State Open Concord, CA (3), 18.01.2014
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Be7 5.0–0 d6 6.c3 Bg4 7.cxd4 Qd7 8.Qb3 Na5 9.Bxf7+ Kf8 10.Qd5 Bxf3 11.Be6 Bxe4 12.Qxe4 Nf6 13.Qf5 Qa4 14.Nc3 Qb4 15.d5 Nc4 16.Bg5 Ne5 17.Ne4 Ke8 18.Bxf6 gxf6 19.Rac1 Kd8 20.Nxf6 Rf8 21.Qxh7 Rxf6 22.Rxc7 Ng6 23.Rfc1 Rxe6 24.dxe6 d5 25.Rd7+
D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1178) – Dailey,Alan (781) [C44]
5th Golden State Open Concord, CA (4), 19.01.2014
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 f6 4.dxe5 fxe5 5.Bc4 Nf6 6.Bg5 d6 7.Nc3 Be7 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.Qd5 Rf8 10.Nh4 Nb4 11.Qb5+ Nc6 12.Nf5 Bxf5 13.exf5
Rajasekar,Shriram (1067) – D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1178) [C10]
5th Golden State Open Concord, CA (6), 20.01.2014
1.d4 e6 2.e4 c5 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 d5 5.e5 Ne4 6.Bd3 Nxc3 7.bxc3 c4 8.Be2 Qa5 9.Bd2 Ba3 10.Rb1 Nc6 11.0–0 b5 12.Re1 b4 13.cxb4 Bxb4 14.Bxb4 Nxb4 15.Qd2 Nc6 16.Qxa5 Nxa5 17.c3 Bd7 18.Bd1 0–0 19.Bc2 h6 20.Rb2 Rab8 21.Reb1 Rxb2 22.Rxb2 Bc6 23.Kf1 Rd8 24.Rb4 Nb7 25.Ba4 a5 26.Bxc6 axb4 27.Bxb7 bxc3 28.Ke2 Rb8 29.Ba6 Rb1 30.Ne1 Rb2+ 31.Kd1 Rd2+ 32.Kc1 Rxf2 33.a4 Rf1 34.Kd1 c2+ 35.Kxc2 Rxe1 36.Kc3 Re3+ 37.Kd2 Rd3+ 38.Kc2 Rxd4 39.Bb5 Rd3 40.a5 Rb3 41.Bc6 Ra3 42.Kb2 Rxa5 43.Kc2 c3 44.Bd7 d4 45.Kd3 Rc5 46.Kc2 d3+ 47.Kxd3 c2 48.Ke4 c1Q 49.Kf3 Qd1+ 50.Ke4 Rc4+ 51.Ke3 Qb3+ 52.Kf2 Rc2+ 53.Ke1 Qb1#
D’Alfonsi,Michael J (1178) – Cheng,Ian (1151) [C41]
5th Golden State Open Concord, CA (7), 20.01.2014
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 exd4 5.Nxd4 Be7 6.Bc4 0–0 7.0–0 Be6 8.Bxe6 fxe6 9.Nxe6 Qe8 10.Nxf8 Qxf8 11.Nd5 Nbd7 12.Nxc7 Rc8 13.Nd5 Nxe4 14.Nxe7+ Qxe7 15.Re1 Ndf6 16.Bg5 Qf7 17.Bxf6 Nxf6 18.Qxd6 Rxc2 19.Qd8+ Qf8 20.Qd4 Qc8 21.Rad1 h6 22.Re7 Rc1 23.Qd2 Rxd1+ 24.Qxd1 Qc6 25.g3 Qc5 26.Qd8+ Kh7 27.Qf8 Qc1+ 28.Kg2 Qc6+ 29.Kh3 Nh5 30.Qf5+ Qg6 31.Qxg6+ Kxg6 32.Rxb7 Kf6 33.Rxa7