Monday, October 24, 2016

Iowa Open Chess Tournament 2016

The Iowa Open is the most popular chess tournament in the state, with more than 200 participants.  And it is one I never like to miss--and haven't missed for four years.  Like last year, it was held in the Conference Center at the Marriott Hotel in Coralville, Iowa.
August 27th, Charity, Daniel, and I ate breakfast and then left home at about 7:30; we arrived in Coralville with time to spare.  The rest of the family had left earlier than we to go to a 10K and half marathon at Beeds Lake in Hampton.  

I had pre-registed to avoid having to stand in line to check-in.  I had also booked a room at the Marriott well in advance, since last year all the rooms were filled quickly, and we ended up having to drive over to Best Western for accommodations.  Apparently, booking early turned out to be a very good idea. Finding a room in Coralville was even more challenging for procrastinators this year, as a concert the same weekend filled just about every hotel in town.

After letting Mark Capron, the tournament organizer, know we had arrived, I ran into Tony Dutiel, the bughouse player.  He proceeded to tell me what a tragedy it was no bughouse games were being played...and within about a minute, that wrong was righted with the help of Steven Cusumano and my sister Charity.
Chess players "relax" over bughouse games later in the day.
A little after 10:00, pairings were posted.  My first opponent was A. J. Kozich (1437).  Although I had seen him at many tournaments, I don't believe I'd ever played him before.

I (rated 1677) was surprised to have a lower-rated opponent in the first round.  Usually I'm assigned as the victim for some higher-rated player in the first round, and in subsequent rounds things improve.  This time I was expected to win my first game.

A.J. allowed me to open with the Sicilian Dragon, which I love.  But then he castled kingside, which left me slightly disappointed and befuddled.  I really prefer when my opponents castle queenside, so I can launch a pawn-rolling attack.  I decided to push my pawns anyway and gain queenside space.

My pieces were nicely positioned, and I managed to pick up a couple of his pawns.  Kozich blundered with 35. Rxa5, but I missed the winning 35...Nf4 (and a couple other good moves), and the game evened out.  He attempted to keep me in check, but when checks ran out, he played 44. b4 (best was Ne3).  This gave me something like forced mate in 15.  I, of course, couldn't see that far ahead, but after 50. Qg3, played in hopes of stalemate (the b-pawn was forgotten), I had mate.
This game lasted a long time.  I barely had time to eat before the next round.

My second game was against James Hodina (1950).  It seems every tournament I see him, I end up playing him.
Move 6. Nf3 was an inaccuracy on my part.  Better would have been the more ambitious Ndb5.  My opening was very clumsy (especially considering how many times I've played the Sicilian as white).  Although I survived the opening, I ended up with isolated doubled pawns.  

Then on move 15, I had a brain-slip and dropped a bishop!  I tried to play on a bit, but it was hopeless.  Mr. Hodina is a formidable opponent--not the type of player you can expect to recover against when playing a piece down.
James Hodina, deep in thought.
 Daniel, Charity, and I drove a few blocks until we found a Subway, and stopped there for supper.  Charity, the artist of the family, designed our subways for us; they were delicious.  

Back at the tournament, the last round started at 7:30 p.m.  I was surprised to face an even higher-rated opponent, Daniel Parmet (1981).
I figured the best I could do against Parmet was draw, so I gladly traded pieces, hoping to get to a drawn endgame.  I was able to win a pawn...and then another pawn.  I was very happy with my position (who wouldn't be with two beautiful extra connected pawns just itching to become passers?!).  

But as the hours ticked by I could feel my energy draining as weariness set in.  I lacked the mental fortitude to press on, and blundered with 30. Qd6, dropping my second piece of the tournament by overloading my queen with responsibilities!  The game was over.  Well played by Parmet.
Parmet v. B. Carson
I compared notes with Charity, who had finished her last game in the Iowa Reserve, and found she had won two games and lost two.  

Daniel (1660), who had won his first game and lost his second, was still fighting it out with his third opponent, Abhyudhaya Venkat (1931).
Daniel Carson, pondering his next move.
I had some time to chat with Bill Feldman, the Illinois Chess Association webmaster.  His website won the Chess Journalist of America award last year.  Since I just started as IASCA webmaster this year, I was very interested in hearing his helpful pointers on how he keeps the Illinois website interesting.  Bill had just spent the whole day helping direct the RBO section of the tournament.

 Daniel's game lasted past midnight, and Venkat won in the end.  I was dead tired when he, Charity, and I headed up to retire.  Guests from a wedding also held in the hotel filled the lobby and were gradually finding their way to their rooms...and they were quite drunk! 
I had noticed earlier in the day drinking had started before the ceremony--not a good sign!  So, we were very happy to get past the revelers to our room and go to sleep.

We had to be awake and eat breakfast before the next round Sunday morning at 9:30!

Stay tuned for Part 2.

18 comments:

  1. Wow. Haven't missed on in four years. That's darn good.

    Very cool on the pre-registering. I don't know anything about chess but I do enjoy looking at the pictures of these. What did you get to eat for breakfast?

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    1. I don't remember for sure, but I suspect I ate cold cereal--most likely frosted shredded wheat. I might have also had a cinnamon roll, as my sister had made a batch of those the evening before.

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  2. Bethany you a.fantastic chess player congrats

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    1. Thanks Gosia. I'm afraid I'm only mediocre as far as tournament chess players go, but I have fun!

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  3. Bethany, you are very good at chess! I know how to play the game but not enough to win as much as you do! Great photos of this event! :)

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    1. If you ever feel like playing a game online sometime, let me know! Glad you enjoyed the photos. Since I broke the 1600 barrier a couple years ago, I've had to play in the same section as the very good players, which makes it hard to win very much. Previously I did enjoy about three years near the top of the U1600 group, and I had a lot of fun winning against the weaker players. But facing tougher competition--and losing--is often the best way to improve.

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  4. Congrats, Bethany☺ The game looks cool♥

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    1. The tournament room was quite literally cool until I put my sweater on. :) But yes, it's a fun game.

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  5. Whew! It sort of makes me tired hearing how complicated chess is! But, you make it look and sound so easy! Great job, Bethany!

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  6. Even though my brain has not been able to keep the rules of Chess straight, I enjoy reading your posts about the matches you are in or observe. I think you get the same kind of satisfaction playing chess that I do playing Scrabble...always a challenge!

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    1. Probably so. Although regular Scrabble is too slow for my liking, I love take-two/speed Scrabble. It is a great challenge.

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  7. I'm not a chess player and don't know much about the game but I'm impressed by how well you play.
    Is there anything you can't do?? : )

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    1. Play checkers...or at least so it seems!

      Victor Hugo said, "People don't lack strength. They lack will."

      I think I lack will on that one. ;)

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  8. Hi Bethany, I love Happyone's comment above. The answer to her question is "no" :-) It sounds like you had a fine time at the tournament. I don't know enought about Chess and here is a question: Is there an app out there that will take the list of moves and then display them on the screen so a person can see how the game was played? Thanks for another fine post!

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    1. Hi John, Yes, there are a lot of programs for displaying a list of moves on an onscreen board. Everyone has his/her own favorite. The chess.com analysis board editor, which I embedded games with in this post, is an easy one (and great for embedding games on my blog); however, it's not my favorite for post-mortem analysis. For that, I like Babas Chess.

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  9. You are quite committed, Bethany! Good for you. This is a very challenging game and I'm always impressed by those who play it well.

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    1. I have fun. Thanks for stopping by, Martha!

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