I ended up taking a bye last week in the June Swiss, as the wife and child were both feeling unwell. So after a two week lay-off I was back last night to play Arlo Mann (1550) with a chance to get to 2.5 out of 3 and an opportunity to play a 1900-2000 rated player the following week. I love to take on the best players in the club whenever possible. It is only by playing on even terms with them that I can become one of the best myself.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves...because I was not on my game last night, somewhat unfocused and preoccupied with other things. Naturally, this resulted in Arlo handing me my head on a platter:
White: A. Mann (1550)
Black: R. Pearson (1613)
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cd 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be2 Nf6 7. 0-0 a6 8. Bg5 (a little unusual, but not bad. He wrote down Kh1 on his scoresheet first, and that's probably more 'normal.') Be7 9. Kh1 b5 10. a3 Bb7 11. f4 e5 (a usual response to f4 in these lines, but there is usually no possibility of Bxf6) 12. Bxf6 Bxf6? (gf would give an intersting double-edged game) 13. Nd5 Qd8 14. Nf5 ef? (I wasn't thinking, or calculating, or really looking at his possibilities. I was just moving. That's no way to play. Chess is like a fish swimming in the ocean--you've got to stay alert or you'll be eaten by another fish...) 15. Nd6+ and not only does he win a piece, but he has a dominating position with Black having no play at all. I dragged it out until move 31, which was probably too long. 1-0
So now it looks like I'll be playing Arlo's son, James (1538) next week. You can bet I'll be better prepared.
Meanwhile the Reno CC Ch. 'Elite Eight' matches were being played, and a couple of upsets are in the making. Eric Shoemaker (1860), The Sage in the Tower, rated 100 points below uber-organizer and tireless promoter of chess Jerry Weikel (1960), won with White again to take a 2-1 lead, while Edgar Reyes (1823) won against top-rated Eleuterio Alsasua (2112) to take the lead after they had drawn the first two games. Club Secretary Ernie Hong (2016) closed out his match with David Peterson (1847) with a third straight victory. And despite a rating difference of almost 500 points, club President Mike Filipas (1545) drew with Nevada State Champion Arkia Bayati (2031) to stay within a point at 1-2.
So, today's lesson--mental preparation to play your best is probably more important than opening preparation. Without the first, the second won't take you very far.