SPGI 2016: Bughouse & Blitz Championships

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

St. Louis Trip, Days 3 & 4, July 26-27, 2015
One part of the SPGI 2016 that I was most looking forward to was the bughouse championship.  Susan Polgar had arranged so that I could play in all the side events, the family & friends section, and as a house player for the main tournament.  I have over 10,000 bughouse games in on FICS, so I was hoping to do well.
Charity and I had planned on partnering for this event, but Charity didn't feel well, and ended up having to stay at our dorm.  My youngest sister kindly consented to be my partner instead, since I really didn't want to be partnered with someone whose skills/style I would have no idea about. 

The Gateway Arch

Monday, March 28, 2016

St. Louis Trip, Day 4, Monday, July 27, 2015
From the Old Courthouse, we walked over to the most famous landmark in St. Louis, the Gateway Arch.
After standing in line outside, we went through security.  Inside there were benches for people to wait for their turn up, and screens with the schedule.  A loudspeaker announced as each group had its turn to go up.  We toured one of the gift shops, and my sisters had a couple pennies pressed into souvenirs.

Cedar Rapids Leatherjackets 2016 - Part 2

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Last year we spent the night at Best Western, but we wanted a hotel a little closer to the tournament location; so we booked a couple rooms at the DoubleTree by Hilton.  The price was about the same, but without the amenities of free parking and breakfast (which would have cost extra). 
Our rooms were on the tenth floor, and we had a beautiful view of the city.  Before we went to sleep, we took the elevator up to the restaurant on the 16th floor to look out the windows and satisfy our altophilia.

Cedar Rapids Leatherjackets 2016

Thursday, March 24, 2016

March 5th-6th made for my 6th year attending the Cedar Rapids Leatherjackets. The tournament was held at the Physician's Clinic of Iowa, one of the nicest tournament locations in the state, provided by Robert Keating.  As usual, Jim Hodina organized the Leatherjackets.  This year the event was FIDE rated, and directed by arbiter Bill Broich.
Like last year, Mr. Keating provided complimentary snacks, water bottles, and hot coffee in the kitchen.  The refreshments were appreciated by all.  I played in the Open section, which had 90 30 time controls. Daniel, Charity, and Papa elected to play in the Reserve (U1600).

Debt, College, and More...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"The Lord bless these vittles we've got, and help us to be beholden to nobody," is Mother York's prayer in the 1941 Gary Cooper film Sergeant York.  With our national debt well over $19 trillion and student loan debt in the U.S. over $1.2 trillion owed by over 40 million students, the ideal of being "beholden to nobody" may seem strange.
Marianne from the financial website Personal Capital recently asked me, "Would you be interested in sharing your opinion on the student loan bubble (tuition prices are outrageous!) currently plaguing millennials and the economy?" 

St. Louis Old Courthouse

Friday, March 4, 2016

St. Louis Trip, Day 4, Monday, July 27, 2015
We stopped at the majestic Old Courthouse in St. Louis to buy tickets to tour the Gateway Arch.  
The first courthouse was built in 1828, but the population of the city grew quickly.  By 1839, a new courthouse was needed.  There was a re-design in the 1850s, when the original east wing was replaced, and the west wing was remodeled.  Between 1861 and 1864, the building's cupola was replaced with the dome.

Downtown St. Louis

Thursday, March 3, 2016

St. Louis Trip, Day 4, Monday, July 27, 2015
Monday morning the chess camp had a campus tour.  We decided to skip that and head for downtown St. Louis with our friends Karen, Mike (Karen's dad), and Kate.  Our main goal was to tour the Gateway Arch.  But this post is dedicated to the oddities and architecture we saw along the way.
Musicians in St. Louis are slightly different from the ones you'd run across in the Iowa cornfields....St. Louis artwork is a little different too!  This has to be some of the most creative metal art I've seen.

SPGI 2015 - Bus Tour

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

St. Louis Trip, Day 3, Sunday, July 26, 2015
Sunday afternoon, Susan Polgar and Paul Truong had generously arranged for a free trolley tour of St. Louis for participants and their families.  The trolley drivers were very knowledgeable and told us about all the interesting sites.
Susan Polgar rode in our trolley.  To start the trip, the driver announced that there would be two stops: one at the World Chess Hall of Fame, and the other near the Gateway Arch for photos.  We had to make our stops brief, and return to the trolley promptly; the driver joked that for insurance purposes he had to make sure he brought at least 75% of us back.

SPGI 2015 - Chess Class with GM Polgar and FM Truong

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

St. Louis Trip, Day 3, Sunday, July 26, 2015
Sunday morning we attended an optional session with Susan Polgar and Paul Truong.  They told about how they came to work at Webster University and about their chess program, SPICE, and gave pointers for young chess players.
Left: Susan Polgar  Right: Andrei Botez and Paul Truong (This fun photo was the only one I got of  Paul: Andrei is actually much taller!)
Paul Truong met the Webster University provost, Dr. Schuster, on ICC in 1998 and chatted with him online.  They never imagined years later they would be working together to create one of the biggest chess programs in the world.