I attended the Hoboken tournament on Sunday. I enjoyed the time I spent with friends, especially a fairly new go acquaintance from the Montgomerville club who I got to know well during our hour and a half ride to and from the tournament.
However, this event turned out to be the worst tournament experience I have had since my very first tournament in 1997 when I (through ignorance) entered three stones stronger than I should have at the U.S. Go Congress in 1997 in Lancaster Pennsylvania. I went on to lose the first five tournament games of my career sending my self esteem plummeting lower each day. The low point of that week was when I spent several minutes sobbing in the ladies' room after resigning to an eight year old 26 kyu who claimed not to know better than to use her IGS rating as an entry rank. (This was back in 1997 when IGS ranks were really really tough). There is only one game per day in the main event of the congress so I had plenty of time to ponder my first dismal experiences with tournament play back in 1997. It's a wonder I bounced back, but I did.
One thing these two events had in common was the number of children I played, about 75% of my opponents were very young children. In both cases I also had a tendency to allow the first game of the tournament to set a bad tone for the rest of the event and it was a downward spiral from there on.
It's not that I mind playing children, because I really don't. I also don't mind losing. What I dislike are ugly games filled with really stupid moves, and that is what I seemed to end up playing over and over again on Sunday. The lowest moment was the point at which I forgot what color I was during a ko fight in my second game and made a "threat" against my own corner. It was a mistake from which I knew I wasn't going to recover, not so much because it would lose the game for me, because there was plenty of time to recover from it. I just wasn't in the frame of mind to recover, so I promptly resigned after that move. It was about ten minutes into the game and I had hours to ponder my stupidity before my next match. I even reprised my crying jag in the ladies' room from ten years ago after my ko debacle. This clued me in to the fact that I had reached an unusually low mental state. I had been proud of the fact that I hadn't sobbed in the ladies' room in many years. It just felt like deva vu all over again.
Having just experienced a two week streak of losses online which resulted in a ratings drop from 6k to 9k, due to the lack of a calm mind, I should have foreseen poor results and taken them in stride. But I allowed it to eat away at me, which only made matters worse. At home you can walk away from the computer. But at a tournament, aside from wasting time with a bye, you are pretty much stuck, especially if you are depending on a ride.
The highlight of the day was between the 3rd and 4th rounds when a 3k friend and I played a rengo game against my traveling companion who was also 3k. So basically, I was a handicap to my partner, since I am 11k (and playing much worse to boot). The purpose of the rengo game was to see if my partner could play simply enough so I could follow. He had said that his style is on the wild side. He tempered his moves for my benefit, and we actually did quite well. He was able to set up a net that I saw, and that brought the game to an end. My traveling companion played his side of the game without a partner.
My results for the day were 1-3. And I am not particularly proud of the fact that my win was against my smallest opponent of the day, who happened to have lost all his previous games. Not only was I a failure, but a bully as well. Well, not really, I just tried to play my best, and I happened to win one game. As for my rating... I was close enough to 10k at the start of the tournament that my three losses are unlikely to result in a drop to 12k, and even if they did, that just means easier games at the next tournament so I'm not concerned with the statistical results, just getting back on track with my game mentally.
Now I am off to seek a rated game online. I can only drop so far before I meet up against opponents I have a chance against.
Blogging is good therapy.