Thursday, August 16, 2012

Open to the Open, Part Two

Double Click above image to enlarge.   Phrase at right says 'musicals'

[a.  Up and coming post: '400 Points in 4,000 Days:  Not so rapid chess improvement for the adult class player: A five-year program (Part I).

b.  Update:  Friday, 24 August, I still plan to write this, but one among three or four others in next, say, three weeks.]

When back east for a year or so, I had the very good fortune to not only find a chess club that was very strong while also being extremely friendly, as well as doubly blessed with a great location with fabulous amenities at almost zero cost, BUT--and this is key--while also afforded rated tournaments spread out over many weeks, played on the same weeknight.

From this I discovered that even a SINGLE rated game took me sometimes three days to get over.  I found that with the level of tension and effort that I put into a chess game, this exhausted me more than most people.

And from this club, I also had the opportunity to compete in the World Team Amateur in nearby Parsippany New Jersey (about an hour outside one of the greatest cities in the world, New York).  This gigantic tournament has over one thousand contestants in the east coast part alone, and is the largest team tournament in the world.

Its not that I just drove down the street and somehow wound up there.  Not that.  People travel from all over the east coast just to compete there--from Boston, Philadelphia, all over, and my mother's house, where I was living for a year or so ago, was a thirty-five minute drive.  Patience, I am getting to my point:

In the 2011 41st USATE (US Team Amateur) I played six rated games spread out over three days.  I was tired for an entire week afterwards.  It was a though I had competed in The Ironman Triathlon.

It was then that I understood the wisdom, of for example, my friend Damon T. Garrett [1], who while living about an hour away, still stayed at the feature hotel, The Hilton.  Pricy?  Yes.  Is it worth it?  Yes.  It was then that I realized the need to consolidate my energy, if I was to do this.  The next year, in 2012, I also stayed at the Hilton.

I vowed to myself, that I would never again compete in a chess tournament, spread out over several days, unless I was accommodated on-site, with lodgings.  Its just too harsh to play two rated games per day, driving to the tournament, being held over with nowhere to go between rounds if not nowhere to take a short nap, then drive home, sleep, drive to the tournament, compete, go home, etc.  Terrible.

So when I heard that the 2012 US Open Blitz Tournament was being held on a Saturday at nearby Vancouver Washington [2] [3] [4], near the end of its long nine round competition, I jumped on it.  Thus I could get in a lot of chess, without this need to lodge (read great cost, as well as time expenditure).  I could get lots of chess in, get in, and get out.  One day.  One trip there, one trip home.

I can get myself up physically and mentally up for a single, even if very long, day of competition, without fear of getting killed.

Chess is, for me, very taxing.  It exhausts me.  And it is a great cost, in terms of life energy.  I cannot spend it that often.  I say this all as a man who runs for two hours every Saturday, then go back the next day, and do it again, about four hours running across a 25 hour period.  Its not like I am some weakling!

So there it is:  give me a tournament where I have a bed and shower three minutes away, if not two, with no travel, or god please, let it be for no more than one long day.  That I can do.

Chess is mental torture.  No point making it worse with additional physical torture!  Which it also is.

[1] I long since dispensed with my middle initial, the vestigial trace of childhood, which I gave up after my freshman year, at The Cooper Union. I was once David A. Korn, and how I loved it. Err!

But somehow, I had the good sense, when reestablishing my USCF membership in early 2011, to call myself David Allan Korn, after checking and seeing that there was another David Korn's.

It can get confusing out there. So for all of you who might consider taking the plunge--check first, and use a middle initial or name if you have one! Kudo's to Damon for the T. in Garrett. Smart man in more ways than one.

[2] For those unaware, Vancouver WA is just across the mighty Columbia River, from Portland Oregon. It is barely ten miles from downtown Portland, an area far bigger than most know, some 2.2M people: Wiki: 'The Portland–Vancouver–Hillsboro Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), the 23rd largest in the United States,[3][4] has a population of 2,226,009 (2010 Census). Of them, 1,789,580 live in Oregon (46.7% of the state's population) while the remaining 436,429 live in Washington (6.7% of state's population).' 

{Kind readers, second link is worth a glance, MSA defined.  This is important.  This is what the planet is really comprised of now, as far as key factors goes.  So goes the MSA's, so goes earth!  Image linked here.  Fantastically cogent list, here.

[3] I had moved to Portland in late May 2012. I left Seattle, twenty years to THE week, at the end of October 2010, seeking refuge back at my childhood home, in West Caldwell, NJ. The last place outside New York where there is a farm. True. Running in the woods, I saw many dear. 55 minutes from NY. Just imagine.

[4]. I did get to see my dear old friend GM Yasser Seirawan (USCF Elo 2674), in the lobby of the Hilton for about ten minutes. Got to hug his wife Yvette, who I last saw over teriyaki with Yaz in, what was in, about 2007? I asked Yasser what she thought of me, shamelessly asking. She said that 'you have interesting friends'. Very nice lady. Very modest, like Yasser, unlike me. He and I could not arrange social time, and how did I try!

In the past I had always succeeded. He did, however, much to my surprise, honor his promise to watch me play in the Blitz Tournament. What round(s), I do not know. I cringe. He did write me the day after the tournament, where he placed 2nd, out of about 505 persons, so I was not totally out of the loop. Talk about tired. As Ron Daws once said, in his article in Playbook, what was it, some 1973 or so (I am that old), about how he felt after a marathon, 'I feel like a bag of smashed assholes'.

Not exactly sure about that, but if I played nine rounds against 2000, 2100's, and garden variety 2400's, I would be tired. Watched his round eight, till one in the morning. What did he do, after? Go to the mensroom. Are you kidding. No. Went straight to the skittles room, with his opponent, to do a post mortem. Gave him a hug, intrusive, from behind, almost grabbing him, 'I have to go. I probably won't see you for a few years'.

The last time, was 2.5 years ago, with my girlfriend C. at Starbux. Ouch. Let me forget this woman. He told us about his match at the Olympiad with Tal, recounted in his book Duals, My Games With The World Chess Champions. Don't get me started. Its too late now. 12:50 am. Ran for three hours yesterday, 1:35 today, about 4:35 in a 26 hour period. Not even tired this second.

One can of cheap malt liqueur under my belt now. Two Mexican Taco stand taco's, with tons of cilantro and raw onion, and as much not sauce as I could bear after. Tons of water. One chocolate almond cluster after grocery shopping, in the last hour. Not low fat. Terrible. I am a bad person. I am not pure.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your images of torture are very vivid. Is it chess that drains your energy? Or the stress of tournaments? Although my skills are modest, I find the game can leave me feeling drained at times, and exhilarated at other times. I dream it, and feel like my brain is being rewired!

As in all competition at a high level (the Olympics, for example), it seems that one's skill is only part of the story; how one performs under stress is a big piece of this! I am an anxious person; how can I cope?

Sun Aug 19, 01:41:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chess swept me up once for about a month and half. I don't know what overcame me but during this time I played many grueling games against my computer averaging 3 to 4 hours in length. I was really pushing myself as hard as I possibly could. And while these games were exhausting as you describe, they also seemed to induce a calming, drug like state that enveloped my mind after a game. It was an even more pronounced sensation, at least for me, than that which you get from a hard physical workout. I found that very little bothered me after a long grueling game. I also recall I was improving very quickly, and was astonished towards the end of my saga, at how I was able to beat the computer on levels that had previously seemed impossible. I didn’t think of it so much as mental torture as a mental burn, akin to what you get when trying to complete those last five pushups or sit ups. It was like my brain had been scoured, steam blasted, and rung out.

My only other intense chess experience was when I once spent five hours on a Sunday visualizing a grandmaster game in my mind, including all the variations. I really have no idea how I pushed myself to do that. However, the next day at work I felt as if my level of mental energy was intensely magnified and that my IQ had risen by around 10 or 15 points or more. It was like I was able to focus my thoughts like a high powered laser beam. Unfortunately the next day the feeling subsided. I felt like the guy from “Flowers from Algernon” returning to my normal, foggy, dull witted self.

I would posit that endurance type chess must provide considerable brain boosting effects because of this, since the “no pain, no gain” saying seems to be almost a universal law. In fact, there is an interesting piece about this in the New Scientist. It’s anecdotal, but interesting nonetheless.

Tue Aug 21, 10:05:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

dear anon@ chessSwept me:

i actually think what you are saying is important, if not astute.

my ex girlfriend used to say, aware as she was of all the time i spent on line, and in a way, when i told her how pathetic it all was, but also gave me refuge, on her better side (her good sides were very good, the few that were not were BIG deal breakers!) instead of disparaging my activity if not excess, quite the contrary used to say that she thought that it helps reset, tune my brain.

before some of my best uscf rated games (indeed, those once per week games, on weeknights!), i would play a few blitz games, and it helped get me into what i called state.

anthony robbins, in his NLP or neurolinguistic programming, called it that. he could be hokey in a BrillCream bright tooth kind of way, but he actually fundamentally was right about a LOT of what he said.

some days, when i feel sluggish to start, blitz helps me in my business or practical side of life.

and when, at times like now, when i don't have the juice, ergs volts, watts, hp to play online, do cts, chess tactics server. you know of it?

it is no better or worse than chessTempo. sometimes we need a Formula 1 car, almost glued to the ground to take corners in excess of 200 mph, others need a land rover, with gushy suspension.

cts is on the clock, and you can fly though a lot of board evaluations there, whereas chesstempo is like a web hosted CT-Art 3.0, which would do well to put it on the cloud, even charge for it nominally.

that said, we at once bend our brain as you do, exerting for long periods engaged in strenuous calculations, and also fatiguing ourselves.

i ran for three hours Saturday. it was not that bad, bordering on pleasant.

sunday i was ready to do it again (when i woke, not at all, but once awake, coffee), but monday i was spent, noticably at work Monday night.

Tuesday nearly as bad. today wed fine. need to run tonight, lightly and hit it hard sunday.

last night, i saw a thing on public tv about William Bowerman, a man who coached many great runners, cofounder of Nike. he was a great believer in sustained rest after significant workouts. train at near maximum. then rest. light workouts. the pause is part of it.

right now, i am starting to train again at chess, exhausted from the effort to, at, after the us open, then a very bad spate at chesstempo early this week which ripped my heart out. i can do nearly twenty in a row correct, at 2100 (there, assuredly not uscf), and did three out of four wrong, and i tried. i took my energy away.

so now i am doing CTS, now 1640 at 90.6%, the first step, to getting back to blitz. blitz to me is fuel for the chess mind. masssive blitz.

it is turning the crank on the mind, the way a person on a stationary bike would power a small generator.

energy in, energy out. energy out, energy in.

karate kid; wipe left hand, wipe write hand.

love to you kind sir. dk

Wed Aug 22, 01:27:00 PM PDT  

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