I’ve been slowed down in the last few months with vision problems. I found out I needed cataract surgery in both eyes. After an incredibly long waiting period, I just had my last surgery yesterday. What a difference – I have been wearing glasses for 58 years, and now no more. 20/20 vision in both eyes – just need readers for reading and close up work. In a few days, my right eye should be perfect like my left eye now is, and I cannot tell you how nice it feels to be able to see again. Anyway, I just thought I would post this as an explanation for my lack of postings lately…
The tournament is over. This last group of games have limited interest, and are given only for the sake of completeness. I ended up scoring 42/42 (table points 126), which was enough to win the tournament by a comfortable margin.
I have mixed feelings/thoughts about the tournament. The reflection time format (1 day reflection, 7 day total time bank) did not produce very many high level games. Lots of pawn or piece dropping, missed mates, and etc. Again, in that it resembled an over the board competition. In that sense, it was fun, and I enjoyed the competition. However, I don’t know if I will be playing in a similar format in the future – there is something to be said for having the time to try and produce quality games…
Things are slowly winding down in the tournament. After this group of games, I have but a handful left to finish. The pace has slowed down to a crawl, which is refreshing. I’m starting to see the DMD rear its ugly head in a couple of games – but I suppose that is to be expected.
Earlier I said that the hectic pace had the feel of over the board chess, but there are important differences. At RHP, in this tournament, you can use your time bank of 7 days, as well as a vacation time out (only available to subscribers, 18 days per calendar year). So, delaying tactics are possible. Unlike fine wine, bad chess positions do not improve with age.
I’ve also been surprised at the number of opponents who have wanted to blitz their moves, which, I suppose, fits right into my style of play. I am retired, have plenty of time to work on moves, and enjoy opening research and working out my plans. The problem with blitzing your moves is that you can’t take them back, once they are played. I never get intimidated when an opponent blitzes moves. I look on it as an opportunity.
I have this vision of someone with 400-500 games pending on RHP getting up in the morning, fixing coffee, firing up the old lap top (or smart phone), going to their games inbox, and making moves (least time to move first), one after another, for hours on end. By the time you get done with your moves, probably at least half of your opponents have moved again, and the cycle repeats itself. Seems like Dante’s Inferno to me, but – you know – different strokes for different folks. I would absolutely love to interview someone who actually does this – they are out there…
My score improved to 37/37, with 5 games remaining.
I guess I was kind of a “ringer” in this tournament. My RHP rating was 1660, provisional (first 20 rated games at the site) – which was seriously under my actual cc strength. I did not intentionally deceive anyone, however. My profile page summed up everything about my chess history, including my ICCF Titles. I’m not sure if anyone looked me up, but I suppose that was likely once an opponent realized that I don’t usually drop pieces in cc, or make horrible positional moves. I’ve always believed that being ranked lower in the start table in a tournament is an advantage, rather than a disadvantage…
I knew that my main rival in the tournament would be NN Cheap, who was creeping above ELO 2200 while we were playing our games. While glancing at his statistics, I noticed that it had been a long, long time since he lost a game. Every once and awhile, someone would nick him for a draw, but he had very few losses. NN Cheap pulled off a long series of quick wins, and was the table leader by the time our games completed. Clearly, in the competitive sense, he was the guy to beat if I hoped to win the tournament.
My score improved to 33/33 with 9 games remaining.
At this point in the tournament, I felt that I was getting a better handle on the games, could devote more time in study of the positions, and started playing some decent moves and combinations. For me, the number of pending games is directly related to how well I play. The less pressure I feel, because of the load, the better.
There are actually three games below that are decent quality. The Latvian Gambit against krugerand; the miniature against Arayn; and the game against ZorroTheFox. The miniature features a classic King hunt after my opponent weakened his game with Kingside pawn moves. Once you deny the King the ability to castle, and get him walking, it’s often a matter of just deciding what piece(s) to sacrifice to further the inevitable mating combination.
It was also at this point where I thought I had a good chance to win the tournament, despite the fact that some of my toughest games were not yet resolved.
My score improved to 27/27, with 15 games remaining.
What’s in a user name? My handle for this tournament is johnsim03, which probably looks odd to other folks who don’t know me. Initially, it was designed to make it easy for me to remember it. First name-ICCF title-Year (last two digits) it was awarded. When I achieve Grandmaster, of course, I will change it (that obviously hasn’t happened yet).
What do you think about the handles of my opponents I have revealed so far? Do you have a favorite? My favorite, so far, is PickleOfInfiniteWisdom; which clearly edges out IamVoltaire, which is my second favorite. But, stay tuned, there are more candidate handle names coming…
My score improved to 22/22, with 20 games remaining.
Some of my opponents in this tournament have hundreds of games ongoing. Can you imagine that? Most of these would likely be with time controls which aren’t so fast, say three or seven days’ reflection time per move, but who knows? Still, it makes you wonder how a player could cope with so many games at once. I suspect that the answer is that they don’t cope very well, as a general rule. Which is okay, if you are not concerned with improving your play or winning tournaments. Every person is different, but if a seasoned cc player is somewhat intimidated with 40+ games going on at once, how would that same player feel about 400+ ongoing games? Someone should do a serious study on players who carry so many games, particularly in the motivational sense. I think the results of such a study might be fascinating.
Red Hot Pawn has some interesting time control configurations for the tournaments it offers. How about 0 days reflection time, with a 21 day time bank for the entire game? The crucial playing strategy, apparently, would be to discover your opponent’s sleeping/working patterns, and then you would try and move during those times, in order to make sure he or she uses as much of the hourly server clock as possible. My goodness, is that correspondence chess? I’m glad I chose a tournament with 1 day reflection time with a 7 day time bank reserve, for my initial tournament. It boggles the mind when considering the 0/21 day formula, because you can have up to 22 opponents (42 games) in the tournament!
My score improved to 16/16, with 26 games remaining.
I recently started an interesting tournament at the Red Hot Pawn server. It might make traditional correspondence chess players cringe, but I like unusual playing formats. Here is the format of this open tournament: 22 players of various playing levels. 2 games against each opponent; one with White and one with Black. One day reflection time (yes, you read that right) with a time bank reserve of only seven days. A win is scored as 3 points, a draw at 1 point, and a loss at 0. For the 42 total games (of course being played simultaneously) there are 126 available table points.
For the first couple of days, it was quite stressful to keep up – imagine how many moves you have to make each day just to stay afloat… It should also be mentioned that this particular playing server does not allow engine usage – it is strictly forbidden to use an engine to generate moves.
I intend to make a full report once I have completed all of my games, but I have mixed feelings about doing experiments like this. The first couple of days were extremely tough for someone who is used to having a lot more reflection time available. The pressure to move is always present! On the other hand, the format has a feel of an over the board tournament, but with the extra benefit of being able to devote more time to difficult positions. On balance, I would have to say that it is an enjoyable way to play, once you get over the initial crush of moves having to be played each day.