Monday, December 31, 2007

North American Open Round Two: Why Am I Such a Huge Baby?

So round two I'm playing IM Mezentsev. The opening confused me, of course I couldn't remember what I was supposed to be doing, and then I seemed to be in a lot of trouble. What I couldn't work out was why my position started off bad, but then I made some weakish moves, he made some quite decent moves, and suddenly I seemed to be doing rather well. It's not supposed to go like that, right?

By the time we reach the diagrammed position, things have picked up for me, but having spent a large part of the game getting glasses of water, feeling sorry for myself and considering the larger problems in my life, I am stupidly short of time.

My first thought is 38. Qd7, threatening both to take on e7 and to play Qe8-f7. But then I see he has 38...Qc5, so I panic, look wildly around, spot Qa7 and fail to notice it hangs e6. Of course 38. Qd7 Qc5 39. Ne3 is actually quite nice for me, by which I mean it's an immediate draw after 39... Re1 40. Nf5 Qxf5 41. Qxe7.

I am such a stupid retarded disgusting mindless child. Is that really so hard to see? Am I really incapable of calculating simple captures? I officially hate myself.

But enough about me. Let's talk about what other people think of me. I had two experiences lately in which people have told me how I play. That's always a strange thing to happen because it's hard to know what your own style is: it always seems to me like I'm just trying to make the best move. Each move is just an uneducated guess, a stab in complete darkness; there's no real agenda, much less style, behind any of it.

So after the last round Dennis Monokrousis comes over to where I'm analysing with my nice opponent, Robert Akopian, and expresses surprise that I'm not attacking him. I look at him quizzically, and he explains to Robert, "She's always been a carnivore as long as I've known her." Now, I'm immediately suspicious of this for two reasons:

1. Everyone always seems to think women are crazy attackers.

2. To my knowledge, Dennis has never seen me play a game of chess before.

But ok, maybe he's secretly studying my games. And maybe he's right; how would I know? It's not like I have some huge insight. In any case, when I got home I was amused to read Braden Bournival's "Player Analysis" of me.

Strengths: Eliz.. I mean Liz is very good at positions where she knows what she's supposed to be doing. She definitely does better in positional games where the pawn structure in the center is established.

Weaknesses: Elizabeth is much weaker when she needs to come up with her own plan at the board. If she gets an unfamiliar position out of the opening where she has to do this, she has trouble. This is why she does much better with fixed pawn structures because the plans don't change.

Now, this is clearly a huge insult. I'm a mindless robot who can only follow directions and gets easily confused? How sad. Even worse, Brad almost certainly got this insight into me from my coach, Dave. (Could he be angry at me because I haven't taken lessons lately? I'm sorry, Dave! I've been so busy!) Unfortunately, I think they're probably right. I wonder if there are any special exercises I can do to become an independant thinker.

Next round: I think I've out-strategized the Zen Master, but fall flat on my face.


Dennis Monokroussos said...

It's probably not true that all press is good press, but it's interesting to appear on your blog for a second straight post. You quote me: "She's always been a carnivore as long as I've known her", and then comment:

"Now, I'm immediately suspicious of this for two reasons: 1. Everyone always seems to think women are crazy attackers. 2. To my knowledge, Dennis has never seen me play a game of chess before."

The first reason is false - I'm part of "everyone" and definitely don't believe that. There are players like Judit Polgar and Jen Shahade who play very aggressively, sure, but I've seen many more players, including both adult and scholastic students of mine who didn't.

The second reason is really strange though. For starters, we've actually played in a tournament, and your opening was the not exactly tame Belgrade Gambit. I haven't "researched" your games since then, but my impression, based on games of yours I've seen in NY (both in our mutual tournaments and probably what I saw in the CIS setting) and in the earlier rounds of this tournament, is that you're a very aggressive player - or at least as a player who chooses very aggressive opening variations.

Dennis Monokroussos said...

Oops - omit "as" in the last part of the last sentence.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Hahaha, that's hilarious that I have no memory of playing you, but what's even better is I'm really not sure what the Belgrade Gambit is. I'm sure you are right, and all, I'm just not paying enough attention....

Dennis Monokroussos said...

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 is the Belgrade Gambit.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Ms. V !

Heres to more charts and graphs in the New Year!

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry if you got offended by my comments. It defintely wasn't mean't as an insult. Dave didn't help me with the site either, so don't blame him! :)

We are all worse in positions where we are not familiar with the plans/common tactics/nuances. Some people are better than others at "faking it" in unfamiliar positions. I just got this impression from some of your games that in positions where the plans are not clear, you have some trouble. I'm thinking specifically of some Nimzo games you played this past year. On the other hand, I think the Sveshnikov is a good opening for you since black must get counterplay for the d5 square, so the strategic battle is much more clear.

It's just my opinion, I'm sure you won't be the only one who gets pissed off at me!

Elizabeth Vicary said...

no, Brad, i'm not pissed, at all, I'm hardly ever pissed, I'm just sad because I think it's basically true. It raises some interesing questions, like to what extent it's one's personality, to what extent it's how one has learned... Maybe I have a tendency to attribute too much to the weird experience of being female, I just can't ever get over how strange it is. But I think your analyses are good, accurate, and funny. Although Take It Easy is an Eagles song.

dfan said...

It is interesting how hard it can be to understand one's own style. I have always thought of myself as a positional, closed-game player who was better off trying to outplay my opponent strategically (largely because my visualization ability is terrible), but recently I switched to much more open openings and am having a blast (and am not seeing a decline in my results). Maybe I have more tactics in me than I thought.

Gurdonark said...

I think gender stereotypes creep into chess discussions and attitudes far too often. It seems as though I'm regularly reading criticism along the lines that "women players tend to play easy, innocuous opening lines", rather than the "she's a carnivore" stereotype.

I'm saddened when I read any statements about the "style" of women players as if gender were style-determinant. When I play someone on freechess (or when I used to play on ICC), I couldn't imagine being able to tell gender from style of play.

Rather than gender, the area that interests me is the extent to which developing players may have a more predictable set of strengths and weaknesses. Here in the Dallas area, where so many kids take lessons and eventually become very strong, one regularly encounters kids who "get" the endgame and tactics a bit better than others of their up-and-coming ratings, because those are given a first focus in lessons. Yet I've found myself winning a game or two from such kids, even when their rating exceeds mine, because some of the "boring" solid openings have positional nuances they have not yet mastered. Does that mean there's a "style" to developing players, or is it just a by-product of the way chess is taught?
It's an interesting question.

I hate it when I miss a drawing line against a strong player, too--but not nearly as much as when I take a slight material and positional advantage into an endgame, and manage to squander the point.

Check2Check said...

At the start of the North American open in 2007 your USCF rating was 2120 and it now currently stands at 2082 which is only a 38 point deficit -hardly worth mentioning other than for the fact that it has remained fairly constant in almost three years.

I was just curious how you feel your chess understanding or skill level has changed since this tournament? I realize you play less chess than you used to so perhaps haven't had the opportunity to have your rating reflect your true strength.

Do you feel teaching chess on a somewhat daily basis and playing less has made you a better player or the opposite? ...or perhaps no discernible effect?