Jessica Blogs from Dallas
By Jessica Lauser   
August 9, 2008
Jessica Lauser in Dallas
After two grueling days—with the second boasting four rounds—I can honestly say I’m being tested. The games have been fun, not to mention exciting, although the occasional blunder on my part, and often at a critical moment in the game, definitely leaves something to be desired. As a result, I’ve only amassed two out of six points possible so far, but perhaps the upcoming seventh round will indeed prove to be lucky.

Interestingly enough, I was actually able to convince my husband, a brand new USCF member, to join me in playing one of the G/30 quads. Despite losing all of his games, nevertheless, I am tremendously proud of him for making the attempt. In fact, it is really not all that uncommon for new players to experience this kind of result; the accompanying frustration—sometimes at chess itself—is only natural.

Does it ever get any easier? Is it too much to expect at least some modicum of success in your games, even if your current rating is 1200, 1000, or less? The answers are yes, and yes. Perhaps you’re entering competition for the first time as an adult, and feel utterly outmatched by the myriad ‘spring chickens’ you see running around, or are returning to the sport after a long absence. Whatever your situation, don’t lose heart. You are certainly not alone. In fact, success over the board should be considered in all its forms, and not only in the number of points a player accrues for winning.

For instance, when a new player manages to, for the most part, keep correct score, this, in itself is its own success. Additionally, being able to follow the Touch-Move Rule, or to punch one’s clock reliably after making each move, are simply other forms of the same. While stronger, more experienced players doubtless take accomplishing these seemingly basic tasks for granted, it is important to recognize that doing so is not always easy for everyone. Ultimately, “Practice makes perfect.”

The truth is competing is actually quite difficult, and I personally make just as many mistakes as the next club-level player. Speaking of which, I made a couple of real dubious ones in the quad earlier. Fortunately, only one of them cost me the game. See for yourself—even I am not immune, in B Class, which may seem a long way off to some.

The first game was against young, Victoria Zhang, whom I drew earlier in the year at the 2008 Foxwoods Open. Unfortunately, I wasn’t so lucky this time. Instead, she stayed with me throughout the game, and was Johnny-on-the-spot the second I made a critical mistake on move 36. Then, as things began their downward spiral, I experienced a ridiculous moment in which I mistook my King for my Queen! I made the capture on e4, thinking I’d won a piece! But, no, and that’s where I resigned.


In my other game, there was quite a bit of saber rattling, and the tactics were surprisingly sharp, I thought. As the game got under way, however, I made a hideous blunder on move 29. Check it out:

Position after 29. Ra1

What was I thinking?! Well, first, I just didn’t see the move Bxa1, which my opponent could easily have made. Amazingly for me, he missed it as well, apparently because he was so focused on the capture at f4. The crazy thing was that I didn’t see it until after he’d missed it too. But, alas, things like this happen, and ratings certainly don’t guarantee expected results. In the end, all we could do was shake our heads and laugh, before wishing each other a mutual good luck in the coming round.

So, with that, here’s wishing all of you good luck in your games, and I look forward to following this up with one more installment after the final rounds are played.

Yours in Chess,

Jessica Lauser a.k.a. “Chessica”
U.S. Blind Women’s Champion, 2003-Present