This past weekend marked the 5th year Papa and I have attended the Cedar Rapids Leatherjackets. Always a great tournament, it was held in a conference room on the top floor of the Physician's Clinic of Iowa. I played in the Open section, and Papa and Charity played in the Reserve (U1600).
James Hodina organizes the event, and this year, Shawn Kmetz served as chief TD. Robert Keating, one of the top chess players in Iowa and part owner of the clinic, hosts the tournament. Free snacks, hot coffee, and bottled water are available for all participants.
The tournament setting was excellent, and I would rate the clinic as one of the two nicest tournament locations in Iowa. The carpeted floor minimized noise, and the sturdy tables eliminated table-shake from inveterate tap dancers. There was plenty of elbow-room during the games, and a nice skittles room for between rounds. The only location that could provide competition would be the Botanical Gardens in Des Moines where Bill Broich used to run the Des Moines Open.
We arrived early. I played a couple bughouse games to warm up before the first round, and chatted with friends and acquaintances. Stan Felgar mentioned that he thought the Leatherjackets tournament is becoming more of a reunion than just another ordinary chess tournament, and in a way, I think he may be right. It's good to see all our
enemies dear fellow participants again and try to get revenge for last year enjoy the camaraderie.
The tournament started right on schedule, and I was paired against Joseph Wan (2079) on board 7. The time control was 90 minutes with a 30 second increment. I held an even game through the opening and early mid-game, and finally felt I had a superior position with control of the open file on move 22.
I expect post-mortems of my games to be painful, but examining this game with Houdini after the tournament proved to be downright torture. Wan made a mistake with 28. Re8; I could have won a 3-point advantage with 29. Rxf7. After missing that, I still could have gained an edge with 31.Nxf7. My choice of 31. Rxf7 launched me back into a fairly even game. Unfortunately my endgame skills failed me, I dropped a pawn with 36. f4, and eventually lost.
Charity and Papa had already started their second round after both winning their first games, so I watched them play and then ate lunch. Gradually, reserve section players finished their games, and we soon had a couple bughouse games rolling. Bughouse is one of my favorite parts of tournaments, and it made the time go by quickly on lunch break.
I was rather worn after my first game against Joseph Wan, so I did not mind when I got a second-round bye. I relaxed, enjoyed the free Wifi, watched other games, and played a few blitz games.
The 3rd and final round of the day started at 7:15. This time I was matched against James Hodina (1925).
The game went ok until 25...Rc7 when I moved a little too fast, not noticing until afterwards that I had just deprived my knight of its only escape square. 26...Nf4, which Mr. Hodina kindly pointed out to me after the game, would have minimized my losses, but still would have left me with a small disadvantage.
Charity and Papa both finished with 2 wins out of 4 games in the Reserve section. It was past 10 pm, so we drove to our hotel. It was important to get a good rest for the next day of tournament play.
Stay tuned for Part 2!