Cedar Rapids Leather Jackets 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

     The past 3 years, my dad and I have participated in the Cedar Rapids Leather Jackets chess tournament expertly directed by Jim Hodina.  It's one of our favorite tournaments, and every year I enjoy some very good games.  This year was no different.

     The library at Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids provided a free room for the tournament.  It was a very spacious and pleasant location.

     We live an hour and a half from Cedar Rapids, so we left home around 8 o'clock.  We were surprised at how nice and dry Highway 20 was, but unfortunately, the excellent road conditions did not last for long. Pretty soon we saw one SUV in the ditch...then  2 more.  Next were 2 semi-trucks wrecked together in the median--then another car!  We slowed down and drove more carefully.  I read a chapter from the Bible aloud, and Papa and I chatted for a while.  "I think I'll stop at McDonalds if we can find one," Papa said.  We found one sure enough, and was I glad!  At this time in the morning I was starving, and playing chess is difficult on an empty stomach.  We ordered sausage McMuffins--mmm...delicious! 

     Soon enough, we reached the mall and found the tournament room.  The first round started promtly at 10:00, and I found myself on board 3 playing Arshaq S.  I've played Arshaq before, and he's always been a very tough opponent.  The fact that his USCF rating is up to 1875 did nothing to help my confidence; nevertheless, I resolved to try my best.  Arshaq gained a positional advantage and utilized it to win pawns which gave him a winning edge in the endgame.

Well done, Arshaq!

After my game was finished, Papa (who had also won his game) and I walked over to Chick-Fil-A and ordered chicken sandwiches and a milk-shake.  I'd never had a sandwich from Chick-Fil-A before, so after all the news coverage the restaurant received, I was very curious how their chicken sandwiches tasted.  I also noticed that many other chess players were visiting the restaurant, so I was curious whether Chick-Fil-A sandwiches are good brain food.   I wasn't disappointed.

The chicken was extremely tender, and the sandwich was simply heavenly!  The milk-shake was delicious also; although I think the cherries atop McDonald's strawberry milkshakes are slightly better.

  We toured the mall.  It's a beautiful building and has several clothing stores (including JC Pennys), art galleries, eating places, the library, H & R Block, and PayLess Shoes; nevertheless, it is sadly reminiscent of a ghost town.  There are many empty, closed-off rooms.
     The second round I played white against David T., rated 1458.  I was happy to see him play the Sicilian Defense since I always play it (though a different variation) as black, and I have plenty of experience playing it as white.  The mid-game was as interesting to play as it always is when black and white castle on different sides of the board.

Papa's game was still ongoing, so I watched a few games and relaxed a while.   I was disappointed to see him lose.  Other games were still being played, so we walked over to the library and toured their collection of books.  There was a good collection of biographies, but we didn't have time to enjoy them all.

Round 3 started and this time I was black against Roger S. and (of course) tried to launch the game into a Sicilian Dragon.  My opponent kept the opening interesting with some unusual variations and traded down very early.

Pawns are essential!

Since Papa was still fighting it out over the 64 checkered squares, I returned to my position as a spectator.  After his game, we trekked the mall one final time, getting plenty of stress-relieving exercise before the final round.

Round 3 games progressing,
For the fourth game, I played Richard R.  He is a very challenging opponent whom I have played at various tournaments.  Most of our games have ended in a draw.  This game turned out to be pretty exciting.  Just as I  thought I was going to lose some of my pawns--which my round 3 game proved so important--I stumbled upon a checkmate.

  Finishing a game early means waiting and waiting and waiting for the other games to be completed...and I had committed the horrific peccadillo (hmm...not sure those two words are compatible!) of forgetting to bring a good book with me!  

So, I returned to my part-time Saturday job of being a spectator!  Several interesting games were in progress.  Papa finished his game, and then we left for home. 

This time the roads truly were treacherous.  A cold rain hit our windshield, freezing on impact, and glazing it with ice so we had to struggle to see.  Finally we reached an exit off the main highway and were delighted to reach the gravel roads that led to our home.  Home at last! 

 It was a real pleasure to spend the day at the Cedar Rapids Leather Jackets chess tournament.  Thanks to Mr. Hodina for directing and thank you to all other participants for making it a fun event!


  1. I always enjoy reading your tournament coverage and was glad to hear that you did so well. The best news was that you got there and back safely on such a treacherous day.

  2. Thanks, yes! I often think of the last line of the song Amazing Grace..."and grace will lead me home. Amen!"

    God bless you Phil!

  3. I have never played chess competitively, but I enjoy reading your posts about the tournaments!

  4. Congrats for your tournament and the entertained way how you count it. The place looks very nice and the sandwich too. Keep enjoying the games.

  5. Thanks Lauralea and Henry! I really appreciate your comments! And yes, tournaments are a lot of fun.:)

  6. My savvy friend did it again!
    Congrats. : )