St. Louis Trip, Day 2, Saturday, July 25, 2015
We were in St. Louis for the Susan Polgar Girl's Invitational because my youngest sister had won the Iowa Girls Chess Championship and was representing Iowa at the event. My other sister (Charity) and I were both returning as alumnae, since we had participated in the Invitational in 2012. Papa traveled with us as bodyguard and chauffeur.
We had a very difficult time finding our dorm Saturday morning due to construction. I really hate b̶e̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶l̶o̶s̶t̶ unintentionally visiting unknown destinations, so I was relieved when we found it. My youngest sister received complimentary room and board from SPICE as the state representative. The rest of us paid $300 a person to cover room and board for the week. Considering a nice hotel room is $100 a night (a mediocre one $50), and an average meal is $8, I think we were given a pretty good deal.
After visiting the cemetery and the zoo, we returned in just enough time to change and head downstairs for game analysis with SPICE students at 4:30 pm. GMs Ray Robson and Illya Nyzhnyk reviewed scoresheets/games the girls brought to be analysed, one at a time. Most of the girls at any one time were standing around, so I got out my chess board and played some blitz and bughouse with girls who were waiting.
One young lady struck me at first glance as a nice person. I asked if she'd be up to a game, and I learned her name was Karen (the same name as one of my long-time best friends). Karens are awesome!
Another very nice young lady who played bughouse with us was Elvia from Guatemala. She knew very little English, so I had an opportunity to test my Spanish! And oh, my language skills (honed mostly by reading) are terrible! If she wrote down what she wanted to say in Spanish, I could almost always understand. But I had difficulty speaking, and understanding what she said was even more difficult. I need a lot more practice!
After the analysis time ended, we headed to the cafeteria to eat. Then my family and I, and Karen and her dad spent the evening throwing tennis balls to each other around the circle shown above. We took turns counting how many times we could successfully catch the balls. To keep it fun, I counted in Spanish, Charity counted in Pig Latin, my youngest sister counted in Greek, and Karen counted in Japanese (each of our second languages)! We girls also fed the mosquitoes while playing some exhausting games of freeze tag before heading to bed.
The air-conditioning in Charity's and my room was too cold, so I asked Charity to turn it up a little. The thermostat didn't seem to acknowledge her request, so she pressed the temperature up button a few more times. We relaxed a bit.
Then a horrendous shrill *beep-beep-beep* started! It was a fire alarm! I looked up and down our hallway...but nothing. A neighbor (also attending SPGI) peaked out of her doorway and asked if the alarm was from our room, and then kindly proceeded to call security. Pretty soon we had a couple security guys on the case. They disconnected the alarm, and the obnoxious beeping stopped.
At first they thought it was a simple malfunction of the device, but the real problem proved to be that we had inadvertently turned our heater on by turning up the thermostat for the air conditioner! Our room was slowly but surely being turned into an oven, and the regulator was strangely unresponsive!
Eventually the security guys (and remote help, + maybe an angel or two) got the problem fixed. It was near midnight, so we finally went to sleep--and refrained from touching the air conditioner again for the rest of our stay!