Monday, November 22, 2010
Sixteen, going on seventeen
Horton-Peréz Puyal, individual championship of Huesca province 2010, eighth and penultimate round, board two. Position after White's thirty-ninth move.
Black draws easily with 39...Qd8: instead, he chose to evade the threat of 40.Re8+ with 39...Kg7?? which evaded nothing at all, since White played 40.Re8 with precisely the same result.
The board one game was drawn, and as a result, White moved into the outright lead, half a point ahead. If I win my final game, due to be played next Saturday, I will be the champion of the province of Huesca.
This was a championship I failed to win last year, despite being graded more than a hundred and fifty points higher than any of the other competitors, and as a result, I completed sixteen years without winning a tournament. And now, in the seventeeth year, I am so close. One more game. With the black pieces, against a player who beat me last time we played: yet he is a player I should beat. But we are five days before the game and should is a million miles from will.
I have, I think, two goals in chess. One is to beat an International Master, which I have never yet managed to do. The other is to win another tournament. And then, or so I tell myself, I can stop taking the game so seriously. I hope so. I don't think I can go through this again.
The tournament, being played over nine rounds, but only one round a week, takes eight weeks to complete. I work, during the week, in different parts of Spain: already, during the current tournament, I have been to Ciudad Rodrigo on the Portuguese border, to Pamplona near the French, to Cartagena on the Mediterranean. At the end of every week, I travel hundreds of kilometres back to Huesca, to play in the championship. Every Saturday, when I am back, I go and play another must-win game. And the following week, I stress myself to distraction, worrying about the next Saturday's must-win game.
Never again. After this, either I play this tournment for fun, or I don't play it at all.
No, really. I don't want to be the guy who plays the same tournament for twenty years and never wins it. This is my fourth attempt: I've so far come third twice and second the other time. Saturday, I think, is it. It, as in the end. It, as in the moment of truth, the showdown, the final scene.
There is so much I could say about this. But for the while, it is better unsaid. I shall be in Teruel this week, worrying. And then, on Saturday, I shall be pushing a few pieces of plastic around a table. Pushing them around, inside my head.