Monday, October 3, 2011

A Report on the Carolina - Dallas Match 10/03/11

An Open Letter to USCL Enthusiasts and Cobras' Fans,

I feel the need to discuss the events of my game tonight in our match with the Dallas Destiny.

This blog post will be detailed and will interest you if you are a fan of the Cobras, a friend of mine, interested in arcane rules, or, most importantly, are interested in the protection of the importance and integrity of the league, and of good sporting values. I have played tournament chess for 27 years and I have never felt such pain from a game.

As you may know, we lost our match 2.5-1.5. With no games yet finished, I had just completed my 29th move, Bf3. Feeling I had a comfortable position, I took my first look at the other games of my teammates. Since none of them had actual board, I opened three other windows and took a peak at their status. When clicking back to my own game, I selected what I thought was some random negative space on the border of my game's window. The next look I took, the position said White Resigns, 0-1.

Shocked, I ran out of the room and told the TD, Gary Newsom, to call Greg Shahade, the commissioner, right away. There was clearly no way any person rated over 1000 would ever resign, let alone on his opponent's move. I had about a dozen mitigating circumstances and I was expecting some sort of small time penalty. I was told by Greg that in the rules it states that any mouse slip that ends the cannot be overturned.

To say that I was surprised is an understatement. I had no idea such a harsh rule was in place. I did everything to protect against mouse slips. I was using a brick-and-mortar board, the only one of my teammates to do so. The rules say this protects against any mouse slip that does not end the game. Even though I was getting short of time, my board remained in use. I was borrowing the TD's computer, which had Dasher installed, which I was using for the first time in my life (I've always used Blitzin). Greg's position was that he installed the rule because it would take too long to reset the position. This is an untenable position that Greg himself rebuffed 20 minutes later, when he told me that he asked the administrators of ICC and they told him that in fact it did not take very long to reset the game and the clocks. Why then would the commissioner have a rule in place, with the most Draconian penalty possible, if his main support for having it did not exist at all?

I pleaded with Greg to be the intermediary and contact the team captain or TD of the Dallas team (I did not send my opponent a "tell" because I thought telling my TD and telling the commissioner was the proper channel. He skirted the reasons why he refused to do this, basically saying it would make the other team uncomfortable.

In any over-the-board tournament, two players of sporting nature and reasonably constitution could circumvent a referee upon mutual agreement. Indeed, that is the nature of chess and why it is so special. Don't think Greg likes when two players come to an agreement on their own? Let's look at his Facebook posting (via Twitter) from September 5 of this year. After GMs Moiseenko and Navara had a touch-move incident, Navara later offered a draw in a winning position to protect the integrity of how the game should be won (he later won an award for the gesture). Greg's post: "Huge props to these Moisenko (sic) and Navara guys." He replied to his own post: "People accidentally brush against pieces all of the time and no one ever makes a big fuss about it...Nice to see them all sporting and stuff."

So, taking Greg at his own words, he lauds the sportsmanship of top GMs but refuses to contact the other team to see if they will offer a similar gesture. In case you are curious about the game, all computers agree that I am equal or a smidge better. Curiously, my opponent, Conrad Holt, obviously wasn't expecting a resignation because he made a move on the board. I think a drawn game and match was a fair result, but I believe more that Holt should have the chance to continue the game, agree to a draw (the game was not in his favor), or decide to adhere strictly to the rule. If this makes him or the team uncomfortable, as Greg states, I have news - every draw offer puts a player in a moment of individual decision making on behalf of the team.

I was later told by Craig Jones, the longtime manager of the Cobras, that he estimates that on at least six occasions in the history of the league, Greg DID reach out to him to see if he would be amenable to reversing a mouse slip. So why then, if our manager has been so sportsmanly in the six years of the league, would Greg no even try reach out to Dallas, like he had done with us in the past?

I really don't know how this can be referred to as a professional chess league when such Draconian penalties are in place. Think about it, after hours of play, I click OFF of the board, and lose a game. No takebacks even possible, no discussion with the other party, just end of game.

It is hard to reconcile the ruling with Greg as a person. He has been a friend since high school, we just recently collaborated on a US Chess League camp in Charlotte, and I have respected his willingness to organize the chess world in unique ways.

For all these reasons it makes it that much harder to understand why he would not contact the other team (despite my numerous pleas to do so), and thus offer us a gesture that the Carolina Cobras have granted other teams so many times - a gesture of sportsmanship that when made between two top GMs he applauded unequivocally.

The ruling cost us a match win or tie, and may end up reshaping the league playoffs for both East and West Divisions. Is this how you want the champion of a professional league decided? By the few micrometers of a small computer window? I would hope not.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Braylovksy-Jones Week USCL week1 2010

[Date "2010.08.24"]
[White "Braylovsky, Greg"]
[Black "Jones, Craig"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A46"]
1. Nf3 {I expected e4.  My thoughts, brief as they were,now
expected 2c4 and maybe a symmetrical English of some sort.} Nf6 2. d4 e6 3. Bg5
c5 (3... h6 4. Bxf6 Qxf6 5. e4 {A common way of playing that has been popular
in the past.  Black parks the bishops in the bank and deals with Whites
spatial edge.}) 4. e3 h6 {I just couldnt remember the assesment of 4..Qb6 5.
nbd2 Qb2 6 Bd3 though I knew Black was fine there I was annoyed at myself for
not being more familiar with this basic line.  After thinking for awhile I
decided to throw in 4..h6 reasoning that 5Bf6 wouldnt be as good since white
has already played e3 and Black should be totally comfortable with the Bishop
pair  and white not having grabbed as much space as the previous line.} 5. Bxf6
Qxf6 6. Nbd2 {What would you play as black here? The database shows that black
has played the same, apparently correct , move here 83 percent of the time!
The computer overwhelmingly likes this this move as well.  It never crossed my
mind. What do you think it is?} d5 {Though this move is fine 6..cd4! is
correct now maybe someone can explain to me why that is?  It must be related
to the softening of the darksquares.} 7. Ne5 ! TN {Black now has a big
decision.  Waste time on a6 preventing the seemingly annoying Bb5+ or just
hand castling.  It was totally unclear to me  which was correct.} Bd6 {I opt
for the latter.} 8. Bb5+ Kf8 9. Ndf3 g6 10. c3 Kg7 11. h4 ! {Braylovsky
decides to burn both our bridges!} a6 12. Bd3 Nd7 {I couldnt decide between
this and Nc6.  12..Nc6 maybe more dynamic but this is totally playable.} 13.
Ng4 Qe7 14. h5 ! f5 ! 15. Nge5 Bxe5 16. Nxe5 Nxe5 17. dxe5 g5 18. g4 d4 ! {
Played fairly quickly I felt immediate disruption was needed.} 19. Qd2 Rd8 20.
O-O-O b5 {Obvious but good, black must hurry.} 21. Rhg1 ! {Very good white
lines up on g5 immediately.} c4 22. Bf1 d3 23. f4 Bb7 ? {I felt I had been
outplayed and was "desperate".  As it turns out the game has been very well up
until this point , at least according to the computer.  The position is
unclear with chances for both sides. I knew the  correct idea was to get in b4
as fast as possible so why didnt I play the correct 23..rb8! and get moving
right away I dont know.} 24. Bg2 Rab8 25. gxf5 exf5 26. fxg5 hxg5 27. Bxb7 Rxb7
28. e4 {after both sides playing the early part of the game so well the errors
start to mount.  White has much better with Rdf1 or Qg2 maintaining a nice
edge.} Kh6 $2 (28... f4 ! {Black misses his chance.} 29. Qxf4 Kh6 !) 29.
exf5 b4 30. cxb4 a5 31. Rde1 ? {Amazingly this loses.   I was in time
pressure and looked at the correct 31...c3  32bc ab 33 f6 Qc5 but thought Qg5
was just winning thinking the pawn was still at f5 not f6 in my analysis.
What is correct?   31 Qg2 seems strong  and seems to lead to a white edge but
its very messy.} (31. Qg2 ! {Apparently wins but is very difficult to see the
follow up.} Rc7  32. Qe4 c3 (32... Qxb4 33. f6 Rg8 34. e6 +-) 33. f6 cxb2+
34. Kxb2 Rc2+ (34... Qxb4+ 35. Qxb4 axb4 36. e6 Rc2+ 37. Kb1 Ra8 38. f7 Re2 39.
Rgf1 b3) 35. Kb1 Qf7 36. Qg6+ Qxg6 37. hxg6 Kxg6 38. Rxd3 Rxd3 39. Kxc2 +-)
31... Rg8 ? {Now White is winning again!!} (31... c3 !!  {Wins!!} 32. bxc3
axb4 33. f6 (33. c4 b3 34. a4 Qa3+ 35. Kb1 Kh7 -+) (33. Kd1 bxc3 -+) 33...
Qc5 34. f7 (34. Qxg5+ {I had calculated this line  and thought I was mated
literally in this posiiton.  Of course Kh7 and white soon runs out of checks
and black wins.} Kh7 35. Qg6+ (35. Qg2 d2+ 36. Kb1 dxe1=Q+ 37. Rxe1 Rdb8 38. c4
b3 39. a4 Qa3 40. Qb2 Qxa4 41. f7) 35... Kh8) 34... Kh7 -+) 32. f6  Qe6 {I
thought I had very good chances here during the game, Braylovsky thought for a
long time and I expected f6 I just couldnt decide where to put the queen once
he played it.  Qf7,Qc7, Qe6 etc all looked reasonable but the  reality is Im
dead lost but not knowing that may have helped?} (32... Qxb4 33. Qxb4 axb4 34.
e6 c3 35. Re5 b3 36. axb3 ) (32... Qf7 33. Rgf1 ! ) 33. b5 ? {Oops,
now we go back the other way again.} (33. bxa5 ! c3 (33... Qd5 34. a6 Rc7 35.
Kb1 $18) 34. bxc3 Qc4 35. f7 Rxf7 36. Rg3 ) 33... c3 ? {And back again!..
Ugh Black misses Rb5  This is however, the next to last mistake.} (33... Rxb5
! 34. f7 Qxf7 35. Rgf1 Qd5 36. Rf6+ Kh7 37. Qf2 d2+ 38. Qxd2 Qxd2+ 39. Kxd2
Rxb2+ 40. Kc3 Rb7 41. Kxc4 g4 42. e6 Rg5 {And black seems to hold.} 43. e7 Rb4+
44. Kd3 Rd5+) 34. bxc3 Qc4 {White to move and win.  4 moves will do it.  Kb2,
Kb1,Rg5 or f7 all seem to do the trick.} 35. e6  (35. Kb2 Rxb5+ 36. Ka1 a4
37. e6 a3 38. f7 Rgb8 39. Rxg5) 35... Qxb5 ! -+ 36. Qg2 d2+ 37. Kxd2 Rd8+ 38.
Ke3 Qd3+ 39. Kf2 Rb2+ 0-1