Thursday 3 July 2008

Playing while sick

"I've never beaten a healthy opponent" is an old,old joke. On the other hand I feel I've been lucky with my health, as I very rarely play chess while sick. Unfortunately that healthy streak came to an end this week as I came down with a case of the flu, for the first time in my life. However, in an effort to confirm my wife's belief in where my priorities really lie, I dragged myself off the the chess club to play the final two rounds of the ANU Winter Rapid.
Treating the experience as some kind of experiment I discovered a couple of interesting facts
  1. Calculating width seems to suffer more than calculation depth (ie I could see single track lines, but not wider alternatives)
  2. I was only seeing my ideas, but not my opponents.
  3. Remembering opening theory is a whole lot harder.
  4. It's easy to rush headlong to your doom
Here is the first game I played last night. I thought I was doing OK until about move 20, but then the game got away from me, and towards the end I was proving point 4 quite effectively, even missing a drawing line and getting mated instead.

Mathews,P - Press,S [C55]
ANU Winter Rapid Canberra, 02.07.2008

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.0-0 Bc5 6.e5 d5 7.exf6 dxc4 8.Re1+ Be6 9.Ng5 Qd5 10.Nc3 Qf5 11.Nce4 Bf8 12.Nxe6 fxe6(D)
13.f7+ Kxf7 14.Ng5+ Kg8 15.Nxe6 Bb4 16.Bd2 Bd6 17.c3 d3 18.b3 Ne5 19.Nd4 Qf7 20.bxc4 Qxc4 21.Qh5 g6 22.Qg5 Nf7 23.Qf6 Bf8 24.Ne6 Re8 25.Re3 Nd6 26.Rae1 Nf5 27.Rf3 Bg7 28.Nxg7 Nxg7 29.Rxe8+ Nxe8 30.Qf8# 1-0


Anonymous said...

Back in my teenage years, when I was a 1400-level player, I had some of my best results when I was feeling a little under the weather. Lack of energy meant I couldn't be bothered wasting any of it on self-doubts and pointless repetition. Yes, things got out of control if there were half a dozen options on each move, but for simpler games, even with calculation required, it often turned out well.

These days, feeling unwell at the board tends to sap my motivation for playing even more than normal and it all tends to end badly (stronger opposition has something to contribute there, too).

Kevin Bonham said...

I played once with flu so severe that I almost withdrew from the event before round 1 commenced, but instead rang up an after-hours doctor who recommended a long steam bath before play (not actually a bath but sitting over a bowl of hot water with a towel draped over my head) and taking it round by round to see how I went.

I actually won that tournament by a point with 7/8 (effectively against a weak field and through the good fortune of one of the other top 3 players beating the other one then having to withdraw through work commitments!) It is hard to tell what impact the flu had on my performance as my tournament summary "several of my won games could have been draws and I had been losing in some. An unimpressive triumph ..." is not that different to what I would write after, oh, four in every five times I win a tournament!

The flu did win me half a point in one game. Leading by a point I found my lower-rated and somewhat elderly opponent to be fighting strongly, and decided to play safe and croaked a draw offer with what little remained of my voice. My opponent failed to hear the draw offer and I later won the game.

I also played in a tournament having smashed up a finger days before, so badly that it required treatment during the event. Twice during the event I had to go and see the doctor and then catch taxis back to the venue with my clock ticking; not surprisingly my result (while not awful) was not that flash.