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.

Generally, I can't stand hotel pillows, so I carry in my own pillow.  Doubletree's pillows were more comfortable than my own!  I slept soundly till about 5:33 A.M. when Charity said, "Bethany, there's a train!"  Sure enough, a train was going right by the hotel.  I dozed off again until a more decent hour.

I would still rate the hotel higher than Best Western or the Marriott.  We had a very pleasant stay.

We went through the McDonald's drive-thru for breakfast, and arrived just in time for Sunday morning's round 4.  I was paired against Michael Mills (1602) of Nebraska.
From top left, clockwise: The tournament room Sunday, James Neal, Luis Peralta v Shawn Kmetz.
I had never played Mr. Mills before, but I had run into him between rounds of the Iowa Open in August while I was photographing flowers outside the Marriott.  Mr. Mills had recommended photographing the dead blossoms because "everyone else photographs the living ones!"  So, I thought a game against him would be pretty interesting. 

 I made a mistake with 7. Bf4, and Mr. Mills was able to pick up a pawn.  It seemed like he had a penchant for trading pieces, so I walked over to the wall chart to check his rating.  Trading often results in a draw, which is ok against a higher-rated player; but considering I was higher rated, I decided I better find a way to win! 

He blundered with 13...b6, but I totally missed that I could have picked up a free rook.  I got a nice position around move 25, but missed the best move 26. d6+.  I did win an exchange--minus a pawn, which probably should have been drawn.  But I felt good about the position. He made a mistake with 42...f5 and resigned.

After lunch, Eric Vigil brought his family over for a Carson v. Vigil match with the rest of my family--who were patiently waiting for my Sunday games to finish.
In the final round, I played James Hodina (1959), whom I had lost to in the 2015 Leatherjackets.
Mr. Hodina played the Sicilian, which is my favorite opening, so I was comfortable with the game to start with.  Unfortunately though, I didn't get to develop well and ended up with an awkwardly uncastled king.  But, according to Houdini, the game stayed consistently between +1 and -1. 

The endgame was a little crazy.  On move 47.  Mr. Hodina offered a draw.  My calculations rendered the position pretty even.  My nerves were shot, so I agreed to the draw, instead of playing the position out.  Afterward, a spectator said he thought I had the position won, but Crafty gives +0.99 and Houdini gives +0.47; so although I may have had a slight advantage, I think the draw was justified considering my mental state and the fact I was playing a stronger opponent, who may have performed better than I under time pressure.  But....I am working on nerves of steel for the next tournament!
Tournament organizer James Hodina and TD Bill Broich.
We headed home, and within a few days I got a check in the mail from Chess in Iowa for $25 for tying with several others for best score U1800.

Congrats to Dan Brashaw, Robert Keating, and Rithwik Mathur for winning the Open Section with four points each, and congratulations to Daniel Carson for winning the Reserve!

Thanks to James Hodina, Bill Broich, and Robert Keating for organizing, directing, and hosting this great tournament, and thanks to all my fellow chess players who make this one of Iowa's funnest chess tournaments!
Many thanks to Charity Carson for most of the photos in this post!


  1. I am so glad you enjoy those tournaments and do so well. $25 is $25!!! Congratulations. What a pretty place and view. We have stayed at a Doubletree a couple of times in the past.

    Wishing you a happy, blessed Easter. xo Diana

    1. Thank you Diana! It's a good thing I don't play chess to make money--as I'm afraid I would be far in the negative! But winning a small prize once in awhile does add to the fun of it. :)

  2. I love how passionate you are about chess. You've chosen a good hobby where you can meet new people and exercise your brain. Are spectators allowed to watch any chess match or do some players prefer to be undisturbed?

    1. At most of the tournaments I play at, spectators are allowed to watch any game; but they should keep a respectful distance and be quiet--otherwise the TD or players may ask them to back off a little. At more important tournaments, there's a rope between spectators and players.

  3. Yay for you! I'm glad you had such a nice room and a good pillow too!

    1. So am I. A good night's sleep is essential for the brain to be at its full strength.

  4. It's been years since I've been in a Best Western.

    I had to settle for Worst Western.

    The last hotel room I was in was at a Drury. It wasn't like mind-blowing but it seemed pretty good for the most part.

  5. Wow Bethany! My respect for you and chess increases each time I read one of your posts like this. All of the technological terms are complete gibberish to me!
    I can however, understand the enjoyment of sleeping well! ;)
    Also, if you don't mind the question I am very curious how many siblings you have and where you fall in the order. (after all, you've asked me the same question) You mention Charity a lot so I'm guessing she is near your age. You also said that a "Daniel Carson" was a winner, is that a brother? And I remember you talking about a younger sister who makes pies...So three sibling? And, just a guess, you are the second oldest?

    1. You're on the money with three siblings, but I am the oldest. Charity's next, then Daniel, and finally my youngest sister who bakes pies. They all happen to be taller than I, so it's not an unusual occasion when someone guesses some or all of them are older!

    2. Thanks Bethany! My curiosity is satisfied now! :)

  6. I've never played but told I would enjoy it. Looks like an interesting and fun game. As for the dead flowers, I take pictures of dead and dying stuff all the time. It makes for good photos. But then, so does sunshine and life.

    Did you ask the hotel where they got their pillows?

    1. Sunshine and life is usually what attracts my photographic eye. Though around this time of year the dried vegetation from last year does make for good photos. No, I didn't think to do that. :) I know one hotel we stayed at had a list of all the things in the hotel that someone might try to take and what they would cost. I wonder if they'd sell one of their pillows!