Thursday, November 24, 2011

Round 7 - A fighting draw

Hello all – Mr. Burke here.

Round 7 is in the books at the World Youth Chess Championship. John Michael had a hard fought draw with Mercado Carlos Sandoval from Mexico. The game was a complicated one. John Michael was getting in time trouble due to the complicated nature of the game – he was down to 5 minutes on his clock at move 23 (he only had 5 minutes left to make 17 moves to get to the first time control of 40 moves in 90 minutes). Mercado offered John Michael a draw and John Michael accepted it after a couple of minutes of thought. He felt there was simply too much to analyze in the position and not enough time remaining to do so effectively. Good decision to make – why ruin 3 hours of effort with a sheer gamble if you are not sure of the road you are going down? Tough game – they were at it for 3 hours even though only 23 moves were played. In the team analysis room, GM Joel Benjamin reviewed the game with John Michael and said he “played brilliantly” and that he was “impressed”. John Michael was a little disappointed after the game – GM Benjamin showed him a move that he could have made in a certain situation that might have helped things a little, and John Michael was a little mad at himself for not seeing that move during the game. He is so hard on himself – he poured his heart out for three hours and still was beating himself up for a little while after the game. Sometimes it is easy to forget that these kids are not machines. The fact that they can play grueling games day after day at such a high level is remarkable. We are very proud of John Michael and the all-out effort he is putting into this tournament.

Currently John Michael is in 21st place, with 5 points out of 7. There is one clear leader at this point with 6.5 points, three players at 6 points, four players with 5.5 points, and twelve others tied with John Michael at 5 points. 2 rounds to go.

Tomorrow’s game is with Nima Fendereski from Iran. Can’t find too many recent games for Nima in our database, so the preparation may be a little less extensive for tomorrow’s game, which wouldn’t be a bad thing. There tend to be more opening “surprises” late in tournaments, as players sometimes prepare special openings designed to catch opponents off guard when things get down to crunch time in the last couple of rounds.

The day was also successful outside of the chess arena. Picking up on the “lizard story” from last evening….when we woke up this morning there was no sign of the lizard in the room. I figured he had left the room, although I continued to scan the walls continuously while we got ready for the day. Sure enough, after we got back from breakfast, the lizard had poked his head out from behind the shelf that had apparently acted as his bunker for the evening. Mrs. Burke took control – she ran down the hall to grab one of the housekeepers that was doing room service about 10 doors down. Unable to say in Portuguese, “There is a lizard in my room and my husband is too scared to do anything about it”, she simply grabbed the housekeeper, and marched arm in arm with her down to our room. As I hid in the corner behind the curtains, Mrs. Burke pointed out the lizard to her. Our 80-pound housekeeper saved the day by grabbing some toilet paper, nimbly hopping up on a stool, and aggressively grabbing at the lizard just like John Michael aggressively attacks his opponents on the chess board. The lizard ran, but he couldn’t get away from our hero – she nabbed him, and took him out of the room. The whole thing took about 30 seconds, and our room was lizard free. We will all sleep better tonight!

Round 8 is tomorrow at 3:00 PM Caldas Novas time (12:00 PM EST). See you tomorrow night with another update.

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