I took a 1/2 pt bye for rd 6, leaving me at 3.0/6 when the schedules merged Friday night for rd 7. It might seem odd to some that I took two byes, given that I drove all this way and paid all this money to play chess. Why not just play all nine rounds?
Part of it, honestly, is that chess is hard. It’s hard for GMs, and it’s hard for patzers like me. A long game can really take the wind out of your sails, and two long games in one day is exhausting. I also wanted to spend time out in Madison, visiting with friends, etc., and really just take a leisurely, vacation-style approach to the event.
While others were slogging it out Friday afternoon, I wandered around the playing site and took pictures. Most of those went up yesterday in a Flickr album, but I did want to place a few in this post with some comments.
I thought it might be kind of interesting to take a few pictures of the playing hall when it was empty, just for the sake of comparison. Imagine my surprise when I wandered in and saw a single game running in the far corner.
It turns out that Frank Niro (right) and Jeffrey Roland (left) have been playing a 12 game match across America, with this game the last in the series. The game was in its death throes when I was taking these pictures, so I got a chance to talk to them both and exchange information. Frank’s ears perked up when I mentioned the existence of this blog, and he scribbled down the URL. Sometimes chance meetings lead to good things…
I also spent quite a bit of time in the tournament bookstore, which should shock no one given the title and nature of this blog. (Lots of pictures are in the Flickr album.) In the end I picked up four titles over these past few days, with one coming from a local used shop.
The book in the upper right corner is a Jack Spence tournament book. Spence was an Omaha organizer and chess historian, and he is the namesake of a chess club that I direct in Omaha.
My understanding is that the tournament bookstore was a collaborative effort between Chess4Less and the Rochester Chess Center. Hats off to them both. They had a great selection of books and equipment.
The Wisconsin Chess Association had a small display near Chess Control with memorabilia from the history of Wisconsin chess. Of particular interest were the items from the 1989 World Youth, which took place in the state and in which players the likes of Leko, Polgar, Schwartzman, Waitzkin, etc., participated. Some prescient person had Polgar sign her name placard, and they had it out for passersby to see.
I also attended the Chess Journalists of America meeting in the afternoon session. I, of course, am only an amateur ‘journalist,’ but because of the increased blurring in information services between print and electronic media, and because I also write for the Nebraska state chess magazine, I thought I should check them out. Dan Lucas and Jen Shahade from Chess Life and Chess Life Online joined Niro, Roland and Al Lawrence at the head of the room, and the meeting served as a dual CJA and Publications Committee meeting.
CJA awards were handed out at the end of the meeting; much to my surprise and great embarrassment, this blog was named the Best Chess Blog. Apparently Niro and Roland had read the blog in its entirety during the few hours between our meeting and this meeting, and deemed it worthy of the award. I’m honored, of course, but now this means I have to live up to the praise. (If it helps me get review copies of books from more publishers, that’s also swell.)
Dinner was followed by my rd 7 game. My opponent was a young expert from Florida, and it was probably my best game of the event thus far. The game, a quiet line out of the 9.dxc5 Tarrasch, went nearly six hours, and while I was probably lost in the final position anyway, I ‘graciously’ stumbled into a 1am checkmate in one. Oy. On the whole my calculation was solid, and my only big oversight (besides the mate) was allowing the queen trade. I hallucinated some variation where I’d check out of it, retreating the rook, but of course this just hangs things. I might have had practical chances to hold the rook ending if I’d traded down at the right time, but White played very well, finding the best moves again and again to keep pressing.