Just before turning in for the night, I pulled up chess-results.com and saw that in round 7 Drew would be facing another American player, Callaghan McCarty-Snead. Playing a team mate means that there are certain restrictions on what the on-site coaches can cover — specifically, no opening preparation. I quickly sent an email round the world to see if we could set up an impromptu session with Drew’s coach back home in the morning . . . my head hit the pillow, and before I knew it, I felt a little tap, tap on my shoulder.
Drew has asthma. It is very mild and usually only acts up when he has a cold. Unfortunately, he gets colds at very inopportune times, like three days before leaving for the Middle East. The congestion has now settled to his chest, and the air was particularly dry last night. It was 3:12 when he woke me with a coughing spell that just wouldn’t stop. A cough drop, 4 puffs on the rescue inhaler, sips of water, elevating his head in the bed, and letting in some cooler outside air, finally led to more sleep sometime after 4 am.
I woke up around 8 o’clock to the iPad buzzing with a FaceTime call. Within the hour I had moved the coaching session with GM Panchanathan to noon, reviewed the games available for Drew’s opponent, and gotten Drew ready to Skype with IM Carlos Perdomo back home. We connected with Carlos around 1 am Atlanta time, and he prepared Drew for facing the Wing Gambit. (For those of you who really get a kick out of chess, check out this lesson on chess.com — it will give you a good chuckle: http://www.chess.com/video/library?keyword=wing+gambit). Although Drew would not end up facing this novel (to us) opening today, the preparation and encouragement (and sacrifice of sleep) offered by Carlos definitely gave Drew confidence heading into the round.
Ganmama headed off to the camel market (more on that in another post), and Zoe helped Drew with his preparation for the round. Team USA had some big games this round in U14 girls with Maggie Feng, Agata Bykovtsev, and Eswaran Ashritha on boards 2, 3, and 4. The U10 section had Awonder Liang and David Peng representing the US on boards 1 and 2. Daniel Naroditsky continued to hold board 1 in the U18 section, and in Drew’s U8 section, the US was on boards 3, 5, 6, and 7. Although Drew is not in contention to medal as are the above and other American players, this round would be very important for his overall tournament performance.
Link to round 7 game:
The round 7 game ended up not going as long as I expected since Drew forced a draw by three-fold repetition on move 32. I pulled out the iPad to email Kyle and dashed off a note that Drew had forced a three-fold reptilian draw! (Got to love that auto-spell feature.) Since Callaghan is rated about 300 points higher, Drew was satisfied with the outcome of his game. It was a great game for him and a good result. He did miss one move that would have led to a clear win. See if you can find it in the following position (leave your ideas in the comments — answer in next post):
Round 7 puzzle: Black to move
During analysis with IM Jan van de Mortel, Drew was challenged as to why he forced the draw rather than pressing for a win. Jan and Drew agreed that the position was better for black and that black had the control of the game. But the path to victory was not clear, nor easy. Jan shared with Drew his new “rule” for chess which applies to himself and his students: no offering draws and no accepting draws.
So, now I am left with one task for the day: figure out how to draw parallels between reptiles and chess. I have learned that if you put the word “reptilian” into the draft of a blog post, you come up with the most crazy “related content” blogs — more people are writing about being abducted by alien reptile species than you can possibly imagine. What came to my mind though were chameleons. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes drab and unnoticeable, these creatures not only adjust to the color of their surroundings, but like all reptiles, to the temperature as well. In chess, you have to adjust to the position that you face on the board. You may not get the opening that you want. Your opponent may not respond to your threat the way you expected. There are times that the position may dictate that you cut your losses and settle for a draw instead of pushing for a win. But evaluating the position is penultimate. Do not accept a draw without first looking for the winning move. And in life as in chess, do not settle for just fitting in when there is something more significant waiting …