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Abby Blogs from Parsippany Print E-mail
By Abby Marshall   
February 21, 2008
Abby Marshall in Parsipanny. Photo Elizabeth Vicary
In my previous blog on the U.S. Amateur Team East (Click here for final report and photos ), I said that I wanted to get some stuff I’d been thinking about off my blogging conscience and while I was sorta messing around, this time I do want to be serious. With my blog I want to make chess tournaments seem as interesting as possible and I want it to be funny. I’m sorry if it comes off the wrong way. I made some mistakes and I’m still learning, but I never meant any offense to anyone. 

So for a heads-up, I can’t promise to be totally serious now. It is 2:30am, and I look absolutely demented. For some reason I had this insane idea that after playing two games of chess and 5 rounds of bughouse and somehow finding the discipline to forgo a night out, I would sit at my computer to write a semi-decent blog.

Keep in mind that none of this actually happened.

So let’s start with Saturday. At least I didn’t play Karsten’s team, which would have meant that I would have to drop my game. Saturday was still a bad day because I lost my game that night after six hours of toil and so it’s like 1 in the morning and I feel really really lousy and so I decide to listen to a grandmaster talk about his forthcoming book dealing with 1. e4? a5! 2. d4?? Na6! 3. Nf3??? g6!

Position after 3...g6

“The working title is “Yo, I messed this junk up, dude,” and the first chapter is “Dude” and second chapter is “Seriously, dude” and I’m seriously psyched to read this book. Dude. Obviously this was a better use of time than working on a promised blog for you guys and then going to bed at a reasonable hour, right?

3:10 to Yermo finished up with 4 points, which is not so bad I guess, and I finished with 4.5 points. John MacArthur had a very nice performance with five wins and two losses out of six on board three (he said he lost the round five game twice) only because he has the unfair advantage of an inherent magical ability to read minds, and so of course knows exactly what opening his opponent is going to play. Like I’ll be preparing to go into a long think to build up some long-term positional plan, and I’ll be listening to John mutter to himself and then a few minutes later I’ll glance at his game and he’s up a piece. Unbelievable how he just steamrollered his opponents. Playing beside Joel (author of the brand new book American Grandmaster , which I can’t wait to read) is cool; I thought it would be intimidating having him look at my games, but you sorta forget about it.

Sunday was pretty sweet. So first of all, bughouse started at 11:00pm. At 11:03pm I am up a rook in my regular tournament game, but there are still some complications, so I come up with a brilliant plan. Not on the chessboard, but in real life, I figure out that because I have about 50 minutes left, that is enough of a time cushion to run to the other side of the hotel, play the 10-min bughouse game, and run back to make a move in my regular game, and then run back for the second bughouse round and somehow balance the times to make everything synchronize perfectly so I win my game and also get to play bug. My mom successfully learned how to send a text message this tournament, so I figured anything was possible. Thankfully, my opponent graciously resigned with a minute to spare until the start of bug, so it was all right. In fact it was awesome.

Hikaru Nakamura and Danny Rohde play the winners of the bughouse, Jason McKinney and Shin Uesugi. Photo Masako Uesugi

My partner was Rilwan from New York, who I played in the first round of this tournament and I remembered him from when he crushed me at blitz at the K-12 Nationals in 2006. Yeah so we play well, losing one match and winning three, and then we get smashed in the last round, facing the team of Nakamura/Rhode. I told Rilwan Ameen he gets Naka, but we learned that the strongest player on the team has to play the strongest player on the other team. So I am black against GM Hikaru Nakamura.

I beat Nakamura.

Position after Bc8+

Oh man, was that sweet. Now keep in mind that it’s not often that when a black bishop checks on h3 there is a bishop on c8 defending it. He takes my bishop on h3 with his king and I take his king with my bishop on c8 and it’s sorta awkward because I don’t want to jump up and start screaming like an idiot in my excitement, so there’s this dazed pause in which Naka is like “oh” and Rilwan is like “yeah!” and I just sit there stupefied. It was beautiful. Shout out to Rilwan for being a superb partner.

Finally I got back to the room at 2:00 am and begin to write. Sort of. I experienced that Sunday-night writer’s block you get when a paper is due on Monday for school, which is the reason for my first sentence.

Due to the confusion of me switching teams, it appears that not many people realize who is actually on my team, demonstrated by the following incredible experience in round three. So Joel sits down at board one, plays the game, and afterwards, his opponent curiously asks, “Do you have any relation to Joel Benjamin the grandmaster?” Afterwards it appeared that his opponent confused Joel with Pal Benko, and so thought the Joel Benjamin he was playing was much too young to be…Joel Benjamin. It’s funny that this exchange occurred after the game, perhaps implying that Joel’s moves did not measure up to the GM standard. In Joel’s defense, mistaken identity was common at the U.S. Amateur Teams. When Larry Christianson told his opponent that he was rated like 2688 or whatever, this was met with a laugh and “c’mon, what’s your real rating?” Just what do you say to that?

Anyway, I promised a lot of people I would include them in my blog, and by now I have peacefully forgotten most of them. It is entirely democratic, I forget the requests of weak players and grandmasters alike. But I will mention the coaches at the CIS programs who are working extremely hard; it’s not easy keeping track of  like 10, 000+ restless middle/high schoolers on top of making sure they show up for their games and play good chess. Watching the coaches work with the kids, I feel like I’m an intimate witness in a Raymond Carver story. It’s pheneomonal, and it looks like I may have an alternative career choice in case beating Magnus Carlsen for the World championship doesn’t work out. Alex Lenderman, who has worked for CIS since the fall talked about his experience so far: " (At) PS 70 in the Bronx, the students are really eager to learn, and they are the first group of kids that I ever taught who really have a true desire to get better. This year, our very supportive chess coordinator, Mr.Alejandro send two teams of players, Bronx Bombers I and Bronx Bombers II. Bronx Bombers I had only an 1154 average but thanks to their very hard work and great fighting spirit…they performed very high, individually, and as a team as well, scoring 3/6."

Alex Lenderman and Alec Getz. Photo E. Vicary

Now that I’m back in Newport News, people are asking me how the “chess thing” went. I tell them that the tournament was very well organized, I had to pay $3.00 for a Snickers bar, the hotel was great, and I had a fantastic time. And whenever I feel sad that the tournament is over, I just remember that I beat Nakamura rated 2736 (c’mon, what’s your real rating?)
I feel bad leaving you guys without a blog the whole tournament. So as a bonus I bring you:

Exclusive: Ten reasons not to bring your mother to a chess tournament

10.    First, picture your mom staying in your dorm room. It’s kinda like that.
9.    She will tell embarrassing stories about you to your opponent, making him think you are ridiculous, and therefore becoming more confident in himself to beat you.
8.    After each game, she will question you endlessly about the openings (hint: never ever tell your mom that you play the Bogoliubov defense, even if it’s true)
7.    She will watch your games from start to finish. It is worse than having your mom listen to you while you talk on the phone. This is a particularly important reason because it carries a health risk: I swear it will shorten your lifespan.
6.    Due to motherly instinct, she will whisper conspiratorially to you during the game if she thinks that she sees a threat.
5.    She may end up playing in future tournaments and becoming better than you.
4.   She will not approve of Mr. X
3.    She will bemoan that you did not take up cheerleading.
2.    If any wrongdoing is done against you, her outrage will transcend that of the typical mom’s anger at a youth suburban soccer league.
1.    You realize that what she is saying to you makes sense.

Case closed! I want to quit chess and become a cheerleader. One last thing before I leave you guys alone: so my roommate has this hilarious blog and in a recent post under a picture of me it says that she challenges me to a blogoff. I’m not sure what that means, but bring it on Lizzy who knows all…

Until next time, peace.