With my new job keeping me hopping, I seriously considered not attending the Cedar Rapids Leatherjackets March 4th-5th. However, it's one of my favorite chess tournaments. The accommodations are always top-notch, and I have an attendance record to keep. This year was my 7th in a row participating. The FIDE-rated tournament was held at the Physician's Clinic of Iowa, directed by Jim Hodina, and hosted by Robert Keating.
My parents and youngest sister had a 10K to run in Garrison, so they dropped me off at the clinic early. I helped set up boards, and then played some blitz games against Richard Rector to warm up, as my chess skills have gotten a little rusty. My sister took a half-point bye in round 1 in the Reserve section, and joined me after she finished running the 10K.
I played in the Open section. My first game of the day was against Robert Reynolds (1966). I played the Queen's Gambit Declined Slav Defense, which is second only to the Sicilian as a favorite in my repertoire as black.
My 15. Nd5 was unwise, and after I failed to play h6 the next move, the game was lost. I consoled myself with the knowledge that I was "supposed" to lose that round, considering my opponent was higher rated. Still, I was disappointed in my play.
My family returned from their 10K race, after finishing quite well. I joined them for lunch and enjoyed a fish sandwich from McDonald's. I played a few blitz games against the up-and-coming scholastic player A. J. Kozich. Regrettably, I could not find enough bughouse players to get some bughouse games going.
The second round, I found myself facing David Raines (1763). The fact I had stayed up late writing Friday night was catching up with me, as I could barely keep my eyes open during the first part of the game. "This is not good," I thought to myself. I walked around the tournament room, and then raided some chips and coffee from the kitchen. I loaded the coffee with creamer, as I hate the bitter taste. But it did the job.
Raines opted for the Sicilian, which made my day. However, he gained the advantage for a while. Eventually, though, I was able to equalize, and we agreed to a draw in what Houdini rules as a rather drawn position. I was happy with the draw, since Raines was higher rated.
By the third round at 7:15 p.m., my lethargic state had fully bid me farewell. I was ready to concentrate. NM Neal recommended green tea instead of coffee, which tasted a lot better!
This time, I was paired against Abhyudaya Shukla (1647). I played the Sicilian. We reached a very interesting position by move 20, and Shukla offered a draw. I calculated every line I could, but did not see myself coming out ahead, so I accepted the draw.
Houdini concurs that the draw was appropriate, giving a line that ends in perpetual check. I suppose the game could have gone either way if we had summoned the fortitude continue playing.
The Reserve section was won by John Trunnel, with my sister finishing in second place. My folks and I headed to a hotel for the night. I had two more games to play Sunday.
Stay tuned for Part 2!