After a 6.5 hr drive to Madison, I arrived at my hotel 3 hrs before gametime and immediately proceeded over to the playing site to scout things out. I knew the Nebraska participants in the Denker, Barber and National All-Girls, so I dropped in on the closing ceremony for the three competitions and said hi to Jacey Tran, who was in my group at chess camp this year. I then went back to the hotel to try and center myself before the game.
It’s odd that I was as nervous as I was, but then, the US Open is by far the largest tournament I’ve ever played, and I’d just driven a long way. Pairings went up around 6pm, an hour before the round, and I frantically tried to find some info on my opponent, the Wisconsin master Anthony Parker. No such luck! To make matters worse, I managed to spill my brewing coffee – I’m a terrible, terrible coffee snob, and I tend to bring my own pourover rig on overnight trips! – all over my hotel bathroom. Cleanup cost me 20 minutes of prep time, and no small amount of dignity. It did, however, serve to distract me from my nerves just a little.
When I arrived at the playing hall, I was astounded by its size. I can only imagine that the World Open must be larger, and Supernationals larger yet, but this was beyond anything I’d ever seen.
In fairly rapid succession I found my board, set out my clock, and prepared to do battle.
…and, sad to say, it wasn’t much of a battle. My play was passive and unrecognizable. My coach looked over the game with me in the skittles room and told me much the same thing, that he didn’t recognize me as the guy who’d played the Black pieces on the scoresheet. I like to think that it’s because I was tired from the drive, but I fear that it was actually ‘me’ playing the Black pieces. It’ll be interesting to see if and how I can pick things up in upcoming rounds.
Here’s the game with brief notes. I took a 1/2 pt bye in Round 2, so my next game is this evening at 7pm.