Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rocky II

Rocky II suffers as many sequels do from the dilemma of giving the audience more of the same success or trying to surprise them with risky new material. Rocky goes through a rather mundane existence of becoming less and less successful again, living extravagantly, and losing his income streams. Act 1 is Rocky becoming a sympathetic loser again. Act 2 is Adrian falling into a coma - a rather weak part as it seems a third of the movie is devoted to waiting at her bedside. Act 3 is the Main Event: The Rematch with the memorable finish of both boxers going down, but only Rocky getting up in time for the count.

Like my favorite part in the first movie, in Rocky II, Rocky has self-doubt again, but it's confined to a short conversation between rounds:

Rocky: That guy is great.
Mickey: No, no. Listen, he's only a man. You can beat him because you're a tank, kid. You're a greasy, fast, 200-pound Italian tank. Go through him! Run over him!
Rocky: I'm a tank. I'm gonna get him.

One mustn't think of one's adversary as being flawless, or else you have already lost the battle of morale. The Larry Evans Memorial opened my eyes to the flaws of my superiors. Not that I thought that all the experts and masters that I've ever played were flawless calculating machines, but I thought that my error rate was so much more frequent that they were essentially perfect against me. I remember now they make mistakes too. Even grandmasters make blunders. I can at moments find my way through the thicket and emerge with the advantage. Then it is a matter of discipline to find the path of technique and cash in.

Rocky 3 and 4 seem like mostly revenge matches, one against Clubber Lang who causes Mickey's heart attack, and one against Ivan Drago, who kills Rocky's friend Apollo Creed in the ring. One more short vignette from Rocky IV:
Duke: [to Rocky] You see? You see? He's not a machine, he's a man, he's a man.
Drago: [to his own trainer] He's not human. He's like a piece of iron.

In my only game against our local youth phenom, I didn't feel outmatched. I even had the advantage for much of the early middlegame. But I threw away much of what I had earned early in the game until I had to struggle to hold a draw. Even into the endgame, I was struggling. Hoping for a knockout, my opponent traded material for time, only to find out that he now had to struggle for a draw. And then he blundered and allowed me to convert a book draw to a win. The Shredder tablebase indicates that in the rook pawn queen ending, it was a theoretical draw all the time until he failed to centralize his queen on move 88. Then he blundered on move 91. This was my second longest game ever. I went the distance, beat a former club champion, and broke my 3.5-year drought of wins against 2000+ rated players.

I will be facing the kid again in the club championship semifinals. I have to maintain morale, look for my chances, and run him over with excellent tank-nique.

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