Tuesday, August 16, 2011

While on the topic of ratings;

Why did we ever change the bonus points formula?

I remember from years ago the bonus was a doubling of your rating gain in a tournament over a certain threshold depending on the number of rounds. (i.e. if you gained 40 points in a 4 round tournament you would get 40 points + bonus points of 40-24=16 for total gain of 56 points). This made sense to me as an improving junior could gain points quickly.

The new formula makes no sense to me. Now if a severely under-rated junior plays in a tournament in which they are one of the lower rated players, it is very unlikely they will gain any bonus points. Take for an example Jason Cio at the 2009 BC Open. He came in with a rating of 1164, performed at 1791 and his new rating was 1232, a gain of only 68 points. He scored only 2/5 and was therefore ineligible for bonus points, but obviously performed well above his rating. Under the old system he would have gained 68 + (68 – 28) = 108 points. In the next two tournaments he also played at ~ 1750 but gained only another 74 and 92 points to get to 1398 with only a measly 5 bonus points for scoring 3.5/6 in the last tournament.

Tourney           Score  Perf    Pre     Post   Gain Bonus
2009 BC Open 2/5       1791   1164   1232   68      0
4th GPO          2.5/6    1714   1232   1306   74      0
35th Keres       3.5/6     1769   1306   1398   92      5

Under the old bonus system, he would have received a lot more bonus points. If I am calculating right, he would have ended up at 1584 after those three tournaments. A few more tourneys with bonus points and maybe it would not have been necessary to artificially adjust his rating by 370 points the following year after he won the world under 10.

Tourney          Score  Perf     Pre     Post   Gain   Bonus
2009 BC open 2/5       1791   1164   1272   108     40
4th GPO         2.5/6     1714   1272   1408   136    54
35th keres       3.5/6     1769   1408   1584   176    74

So who is benefitting from the new bonus system? It appears to me only the highest rated players. They are almost guaranteed to get Bonus points. They only have to score 60%, which shouldn’t be too hard if you’re the highest rated person in a tournament. Maybe they were designed to get high rated players to play in weekend swisses. Thus we see ratings at the top climbing to over 2700! I have nothing against Bator Sambuev, I think he may be the strongest player in Canada now, but he should not be getting bonus points. They were designed for under-rated players, not the top player in the country.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Canadian Open

Half way point of Canadian Open.  I must admit I wasn't paying attention until I saw the website last night.  I followed the Wang - Hebert game live.  It went into a Q+6p vs Q +7p ending.  I was hoping Richard would be able to hold the draw, and at times I thought he might, but in the end the Hebert's experience won the day.  Other Alberta players I noticed playing are Rick Pedersen, Brad Willis, R. V. Kalaydina and Sardul Purewel in  the open section and Chris White and Adie Todd in the under 2000 section.  There might be others I missed.  I did not notice any Saskatchewan players.

I expect Richard Wang to end up as the top Albertan.  He seems to improve in dramatic spurts and he is due for another jump.   He could even get a norm depending on good play and lucky pairings.  A draw vs Irina Krush in round 2 is his highlight so far.

As far as highlights go for Alberta, the big one so far is the round 1 upset Brad Willis (2094) vs GM Bojkov (2544) (1-0).  Brad is a strong player who has only recently began playing chess seriously again after retiring.  Not many can say they beat a GM in a regular game.  Kevin Spragett even analysed the game on his blog here.

I also see Justin Gulati from PEI is playing and had an interesting game vs GM Arencibia in round 2.  I don't know what happened to him in round 3 though - it looks like he has a forfeit.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Canadian Championship

Some quick notes:

After 6 rounds Eric Hansen is leading the Canadion Championship with 5/6!  Keep it up Eric and bring back the trophy.

The candidate matches are also under way but I must admit that without Calsen or Nakamura I don't have much interest.

In my last post, I talked about posting an analysis of a game I played in the Calgary New Year Open - but obviously I haven't done that.  My excuss is that it's not that interesting a game anyway.

Chaisson - Borwski.pgn

I also played in the Northern Alberta Open in Feb and I haven't analysed or posted those games either.  I went into that tourney knowing that I would skip the final game.  My first game was against Keith McKinnon (2351) and I was beaten fairly easily.  Next I defeated Richard Roberts (1388).  Then I had a good draw with Richard Pua (1982) where I was worse but managed to get into a better position and almost win.  My final game was  a disappointing loss to Jim Daniluk (2035) where I sacrificed a pawn for an attack but then chickened out.  That's what was disappointing.

MacKinnon - Chaisson.pgn

Chaisson - Roberts.pgn

Pua - Chaisson.pgn

Chaisson - Daniluk.pgn

I have no idea when I will play another OTB game.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Chess & Stress

Well I haven’t posted for a while for two reasons. One, I haven’t played any serious chess since the Battle at the Border; and two, my life has been extremely busy and stressful over the past half year or more. My biggest stress came from a death within the family and in addition to that there was uncertainty in my employment situation and whether I would need to relocate.

Last year, the company I worked for over 10 years announced that they had decided to put my division up for sale. This was followed by months of stressful waiting until the buyer was eventually announced. Some of the other engineers I worked with transferred and moved to stay with the old employer, some others quit and found a new job before the sale was finalized, and some waited to see who the new owner would be. I waited, and was originally pleased to be able to transfer to the new company only to find out that I didn’t fit in with their plans. Whereas the old company had 15 engineers in the regional office, the new company is now reduced to 4. The long and short of is that I was out of work for a short period of time before finding and starting a brand new job. Unfortunately my new job will require extended travel away from home and thus also place stress on my family.

So what has this to do with chess? While I haven’t been playing serious chess I have played more than a 1000 speed chess games during this period and I have noticed a direct relationship between my stress level, which fluctuated greatly between periods on intense stress and relief, and my performance. While I was experiencing high stress level at work (as highlighted in red below) my performance in speed chess was horrible and my rating would drop, and when I had a period of relief (as highlighted in blue) I would play very well and get my rating back up. When I first noticed this trend and realized how direct the correlation was, I was amazed.

It shows how important a player’s mindset is when playing in a tournament and how distractions will affect performance. At the top level this can definitely change the outcome of a tournament (as Jean Herbert has stated in a chesstalk thread about winning the Canadian Closed last year) but even at lower levels being able to relax during tournament even when not playing is important. Maybe the best thing to do is not play rated chess when your under stress.

Then again, if you’re like me, you don’t have many chances to play rated games. That is why I joined the last round of a tournament when I was in Calgary last week after just the second day in my new job. I will post the game later when I have time but this time I want to do something new.

Before I would just put the game through a chess engine and post it, making note of possible continuations the engine came up with, some I might have considered and some I hadn’t. This time I will analyze the game myself without microchip help and maybe even post it before putting it through the computer squeeze. Hopefully I will learn more this way, even if I do embarrass myself with obvious errors in my analysis.