First round of the Reno Chess Club Championship Swiss last night, and I lost to Kevin Gafni aka drunknknite (2020 USCF) when I squandered a position the exchange up; besides any mistakes in calculation I had what I'd call an attitude problem.
Allow me to explain.
After an interesting opening (I was Black in the Center Counter) we reached a position where he had two rooks and a bishop against my two rooks and a knight, he overlooked a knight fork and I won a clear Exchange.
So what did I do then, you ask? Instead of opening up the game for my two rooks, pieces which can only show their stuff with open lines, I wasted lots of time shuffling my king over to "get in front of his passed pawn" and keeping my rooks back "to cover any possible weaknesses" while he did what good players do in this kind of situation, activated his pieces and clamped down on my pawn breaks. I drifted around a bit more and pretty soon his passed pawn was dangerous, seeing as how I had scurried around like a timid little mouse. And I had a hallucination that lost a rook, and it was over.
If you've got seven minutes, please watch the clip before proceeding:
(Warning, strong language follows)
"You can't play in the man's game, you can't CLOSE them, then go home and tell your wife your troubles."
The encouraging thing about a game like this is to remind me that I'm in a tournament with a bunch of Experts and A-players now, and I can play with these guys, I know I can, but when you get an advantage against them you've got to be a--Relentless. Fucking. Closer. Trying to avoid "risk" didn't work, it usually doesn't; I'm going to start watching this clip each week before my game to remind me what it takes to finish, to close.
Otherwise I'm just another fish with delusions of being a shark, and I'm just not going to let that happen.
My chess blogging friend tanc(happyhippo), who is not really Lousy@Chess, pulled out the old Nietzsche quote in commenting on my last post; "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." Fuckin' a.
Now, bring on next week and a new challenge.
ADDENDUM 04/04/08: Even some of the greatest players experience this kind of thing occasionally. From How to Beat the Russians by Edmar Mednis (1978), this note on the game Sax-Polugaevsky, Hilversum 1973 (after move 20): "Thus the game here starts an interesting psychological turning point. Sax feels 100 percent certain of an imminent loss, and with nothing to lose starts playing freely. Polugaevsky, sure of a win, tries not to take the slightest chance. Objectively, White is lost for many moves to come, but he has the important factor of momentum. On the other hand, Black becomes less and less certain of the position, and his nerves finally go completely to pieces."
When I post the game soon, you'll see how accurately that describes this one, too. Me and Polugaevsky, two peas in a pod. Heh.