It’s a scene from Mr. Cranky Old Chessplayer’s nightmares: You expect to be paired up, but instead you see your opposition listed around 1800. And then you see they have 2.5 from three rounds, which means they upset somebody. And then they sit down to play and you see that they’re all about 11 years old. And then … and then … ( scary music builds to a crescendo) Sunil Weeramantry walks up behind you to look at how they’re doing.
Yes, you’re paired against a bunch of well-coached, under-rated children with solid opening repertoires and the tactical vision you think maybe you mighta had long ago.
The Shmelov Money (our team) drew in round three, and thus we found ourselves (puzzlingly) moving UP to board 11 (STILL not behind the ropes!) and being paired down against the aforementioned kids, dubbed the Mating Maniacs.
I had a terrible opening and later made the dubious decision to “go for it” tactically. Four hours of suffering later, my opponent fell at the last hurdle and walked into a most unjust checkmate. This completed a 4-0 washout for our team.
Now waitaminnit, you say. Why’s it so scary playing kids if you win 4-0?
All I can say is, try it.
[*Sunil Weeramantry is a longtime chess trainer and also the step-father of decorated wunderkid Hikaru Nakamura, who’s broken into the top 20 players in the world.]