Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nationals Round-Up (Continued)

Richie finished the event strongly, picking up wins in all his remaining games to end up with 6.0/7.0 points and a tie for 3rd place (10th on tie-breaks). Overall his play was not bad but I think that if he had to face the top players (a fate he avoided by having the early loss) he may have struggled to win. Even as it was, his final round against none other than Alexander Medina (the kindergartener from the Grade Nationals who played a 2-hour final with Joaquin Perkins), was only won through a terrible oversight by his opponent in a won position. At every Nationals I hear so many stories of games that were given away in won positions that I wonder if parents realize that in virtually every game, each player gives up "wins" multiple times, and it's really just the player who makes the penultimate egregious error that emerges victorious. This is especially true at the lower scholastic levels which can to have more in common with roulette than grandmaster chess. In Richie's case this event was similar to the prior nationals: he was swindled in round 2, and he swindled in round 7 so I guess it balanced out. Even more interesting, from the standpoint of karmic neutrality at least, was that his 7th round swindle was almost the exact same situation with roles reversed--his opponent was up material but with queens on the board still and he maneuvered his queen to a position that seemed to offer a trade of queens or a mating attack, but in fact, simply forced Richie to execute his own mating attack first. Had his opponent thought for a just a few seconds about where Richie was going to move his queen if he didn't want to lose the game on the next move, he would have seen that his own King was perilously close to being mated and he could have avoided the upset easily.

At any rate, Alexander's play until that point was commendable. He played an uncommon opening which Richie handled poorly and built up a sizeable advantage. I can see why he's had good results at these large events and is certainly capable of being a dangerous opponent.

I witnessed another fascinating quick skittles game between Max Roberts and Richie. It's a joy to watch them play because their play always seems to create devilish complications with unexpected and creative solutions being found at nearly every turn.

Kindergartener Praveer Sharan from Oregon emerged victorious with the only perfect score for the event. This was all the more impressive when you consider that the field had at least 20 higher rated and older players include a handful with current ratings over 1200 and he defeated at least three experienced 1000+ players on route to victory. So congratulations to Praveer! Update: It turns out that Praveer's pre-event rating may have been as high as 1300 in the Northwest Scholastic system which put him in among the top seeds but of course doesn't diminish his accomplishment at all. I expect we'll see more of Praveer in upcoming events.

+ Atlanta venue was great. Even though we stayed in the overflow hotel (Marriott
Marquis) it was connected by covered walkways through the Peachtree Centermall.
+ Kudos to the organizers and volunteers. Job well done!
+ Comeback kid.
+ iPad. Perfect place for an iPad for many, many reasons.
+ Mary Mac's Tea Room.
+ My that's a really big aquarium.

- Swindle and re-Swindle? I hope he outgrows that soon.
- Lazy until it's too late. Richie didn't want to warm-up with tactics or review until after his first loss.
- Alyssa didn't do 2/3rds of her homework because she didn't have a ruler(??). C'mon...

=/= Hibaaaachiiii. We went to Benihana the first night and it was great. The kids loved the fried rice, so we were back again for an after-event celebration with our friends. But the 2nd chef overcooked my steak which lessened my enthusiasm for the place.
=/= Paying for the first bag on the airplane. But I guess that's just part of the new world order.

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