Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Iowa Open Chess Tournament 2014: Part 1

On the morning of August 16th, Papa, my brother, one of my sisters, and I started our drive to Coralville, Iowa.  On the way we stopped at Casey's (a convenience store) for donuts for breakfast.

We reached the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center where the tournament was to be held, walked in, and climbed the stairs to the second floor.  We let the tournament director know we were there and greeted our tournament friends. 

In past years I have always played in the Reserve section (U1600), but since my rating was 1637, this time I had to play in the Open.  The time control was 90 minutes with a 30 second increment; 3 games were played on Saturday and 2 on Sunday.

My first game was against Steven Cusumano (1763) of Nebraska.  We both took our time and played a very even match until he outsmarted me in the endgame.  I resigned after 80 moves.  I was so confident I could hold a draw.  I should have, and I could have even at the end if he had a light squared bishop instead of a dark squared one.





I enjoyed playing against my skilled opponent.  What I learned is it's time for me to get back to reading Silman's Endgame Course.  Several years ago I read up to (and slightly beyond) the endgames for my rating level at the time, but if I want to have a chance playing against 1700ers, I need to do some reviewing and pick up where I left off.

The rest of my family were playing in the Reserve section (a few last games from that section are pictured below).  Papa came out of the first two rounds with 2 wins, and my sister and brother each had a win and a draw.  While I was still playing they went to McDonalds for lunch and thoughtfully brought a hamburger back with them for me.  By the time I was done with my game they had already started their 2nd round, and unfortunately the hamburger was cold, so I skipped it.  
I took a short walk and stepped outside to look at the pond by the hotel and get my blood circulating again.  Then I bought a bottle of water and a couple energy bars and snacked in the lobby.  For a few minutes I watched the games of my family members.  Next I went to the skittles room and talked with a gentleman who had travelled all the way from Kansas City with his friends who were playing in the tournament, but he, although a chess player, wasn't playing.  For me it would take a lot of self control to travel 300+ miles to a chess tournament and then just watch!  I also got to talk with my friend Ana who was recently pictured in Chess Life.
Pretty soon one of the chess players from Nebraska, Ana, another player, and I started playing bughouse.  I was delighted since bughouse is my favorite chess variant.  My partner and I won the first few games to the frustration of our opponents...then he had to leave and we lost 1 game be forfeiture.  Next I partnered with Ana, and the Nebraska player partnered Gokul which made for some pretty interesting games (they won some and we won others).

Soon it was time for the next round.  This time I was paired against Archy Coolidge (1386 P4).  I didn't get a look at his rating, making it hard on myself mentally.  Some players do best not knowing the ratings of their opponents, but I don't think I'm one of them.  Throughout the game I was thinking, "If this is a 1700er I'd be doing good to draw, but if this is a 1300er losing would be pretty terrible!"  As my positioned worsened I finally took a look at his rating..."Ah!  I have to win this game!"  But by then it was too late.


I was very comfortable playing my beloved Sicilian--in fact too comfortable.  I sped through the moves, and as I have told my teammates on FICS, if you play fast, you lose fast.  Not fun.  I didn't actually lose till the endgame, but my opponent played very well.  Lessons learned: Study endgames and slow down!
My family and I took a walk in front of the Marriot and then drove to Taco Johns and went through the drive-thru.  I ate a burrito for supper, and we mentally prepared for our last round of the day.  It was time to try to put a lesson learned in the first rounds to use. 
Stay tuned: Part 2 will be posted soon!


22 comments:

  1. Wow you play chess, and I mean really play lol. That's aweosome! My respects because I could never wrap my mind around the game but watching others play is really interesting. Sounds like you had a great time!

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    1. I certainly did have a great time! Chess really isn't that hard to learn the basics of--I'm sure you could get the hang of it! :) But improving can be pretty tough...

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  2. Hi Bethany! Hope you're Wednesday is going well. I've never played chess but I've always been intrigued by it. I have played checkers though, does that count as being close???

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    1. I guess :) Checkers is totaly unrelated, but as far as I know it's the closest board game to chess.

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  3. Bethany, fantastic you are gifted at chess. Chess is a demanding game and you must be so intelligent. Congrats.

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    1. Chess is definitely a game that is always challenging the intelligence--after those two games I was almost feeling like it was not just challenging but *questioning* my intelligence...but losing is the best way to improve if I can learn from my mistakes. ;)

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  4. You participate in chess tournaments? That is wonderful! It takes a lot of patience and concentration. And skill! My brother taught me how to play when we were kids. I love the game, but I just play for fun. I'm a total amateur. You'd probably beat me within a few minutes...LOL...

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    1. Playing for fun is the best way to play! If you're up to a game sometime we could always play on one of the online chess servers (I play mostly at www.freechess.org but also once in a while at chess.com ).

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  5. Good for you, Bethany! My great nephews and nieces in Nebraska have been/are part of a chess club. They really enjoy the game. I admire all of you who understand it and are good at it :)

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    1. That's awesome that your great nephews and nieces play!

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  6. What a fun, challenging game to participate in. Sounds like you are a pro....great details!!

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  7. The first of these two endgames was unfortunate. But it seems, you put the lesson to use in the thatgirl queen ending, too, which was awesome to follow. :) Kind regards, a soybean

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    1. Trying to learn from my mistakes! If chess players could study each mistake they make closely and somehow remember to never repeat it again, pretty soon we'd all be pretty good (I wish it were that easy!) Thanks for commenting!

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  8. I have never played Chess but would like to learn as my son plays .
    Good job on the tournament ...

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    1. Neat that your son plays...I'm sure he could teach you sometime :)

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  9. I love reading about your games! So interesting (even though I don't know how to play at all!). :-)

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  10. My hubby and I used to play chess--he was MUCH better than I. I've never 'met' someone who participates in a chess tournament! I'm impressed:)
    Blessings,
    Aimee

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    1. Thanks Aimee :) Awesome that you used to play with your husband! My papa taught me how to play chess so he would have an opponent, and now our whole family plays! It's a great game for the entire family.

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  11. I've always wanted to learn chess and I've tried several times but just can't grasp it. Maybe I never had a good teacher?

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    1. Perhaps, too bad you don't live nearby! I love the game and would enjoy helping you learn :)

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