Monday, August 31, 2009

Round 5 US Open

  After discussing my woes with my wife, she told me to make sure I took a nap before the game. So I got a nap from 2 to 4 before the 7pm start. My opponent was 1400 rated Randy Parschall, a 60ish gray haired bearded minister from Alaska. Randy's came to play with his son, the Alsaka High School chess champion. So we had a parents match Iowa vs. Alaska. Well rested, and on to battle....

  As my brother Ed would say, YAY!!! I missed more moves in this game than all the others combined, but a win is a win is a win. And more than halfway through the tournament, I have an even score.

After 5 rounds +1 -1 =3 2.5

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Book Review - True Combat Chess by IM Tim Taylor

  I got this book at the US Open as a damaged book for $10 and just finished it. It sells for $24.95 here on USCF Sales. You may remember Taylor's controversial articles in Chess Life about his attempts to get a GM norm in Hungary's first saturday tournaments. All I know, is that he made it sound like so much fun that if I had read his articles when I was in high school, I would have worked a lot harder on my chess.The book includes Taylor's 'Winning the Won Game' series on JeremySilman.com, but the new material is all Taylor's games, mostly about about his struggles to compete for GM norms. There are many whole games in the notes, but I found the games very understandable and enjoyable just to go through on their own and there are more than just moves and variations. The section on trying to hold a position when down to only the delay or increment is a lot of fun to read through. If you have $25 to spend, I recommend it, but if you wait, it will surely be available for $10 at chess4less.com someday.

My favorite quote from the book
  "The time for self-recrimination is later, crying in your beer in your hotel room! At the board, one must fight! Furthermore, every new move in chess is like a new spin of the roulette wheel - anything can happen. One can even win!"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ted Kennedy R.I.P.

  Rest in Peace, Ted. You were an amazing person. Politics aside, getting your marriage of 20+ years with kids annulled because your faith doesn't allow a divorce was a masterstroke. I hope you can strike similar deals at the next stop.

  It is amusing that in 2004, Massachusetts Democrats made the strict rule to prevent the then Republican governor from appointing an interim Republican senator in case John Kerry were to be elected president, but now Ted Kennedy wanted the law changed to allow a Democratic governor to appoint a Democratic interim senator. Of course, Republicans would do the same about face. It's all about the power...

Round 4 US Open

  This was a long day. I was watching Matt's last Denker game and then had to sit through the 75 minute closing ceremony. This left 30 minutes for dinner before round 4. My round 4 opponent was 1437 rated Marke Robinson. Marke is a slight 50ish man with gray hair and glasses. His son Evan, finished first in the U1200 section and won $725.


  Draw on Marke's offer. I now wish I had kept playing since he had just solved my bad bishop problem. I reacted poorly to the change of circumstances.

  As poorly as I've been playing, I took heart in being only -1. Still looking for a win, though...

After 4 rounds +0 -1 =3.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Round 3 US Open

  In round 3, I played Tom Byers, rated 1288. Tom is a 50ish fellow who was short but resembled a large block of granite, complete with a giant face and jaw. I thought I should have a good chance to win this game, and was going to follow my normal plan of keeping complications to a minimum and pouncing on his mistakes. Sadly, I missed my pounce and the game dribbled to a draw.



  On Tom's offer. This was a big blow to my confidence. I left this game wondering if I had lost the will to win or maybe the knack to win, but was encouraged that I was never in any danger of losing and at -1 for the tournament, I still had a chance to better my -2 score of 3 years ago.

  Tom did have a fine tournament. He drew a 1763 and 1842 and beat a 1561 gaining over 100 rating points.

After 3 rounds : +0 -1 =2 1.0

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Round 2 US Open

In this round, I played Sarah Shelby, a teenage girl with frosted hair and a nose ring. Normally during a game, the player gets up after their move, but Sarah kept getting up after my move. Then some other kids would look at the board and they would all get together in the back of the hall. I'm sure they were all talking about frosted hair, nose rings and other teenage stuff, but it sure got in my head. I felt I was playing 3 or 4 people and was liking my position less and less. I missed a tactical shot and locked the pawns in a double rook endgame so I had no break through. After the lastest discussion, Sarah came back to the board, I offered a draw, it was accepted, and I sufferred my first half upset of the tournament.


I was pleased that I was never in danger of losing, but I should have been in more of a grinding mode against the next generation instead of the lackluster draw.
After 2 rounds +0 -1 =1 0.5

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Round 1 US Open

I played in the 2009 US Open from August 1 to 9. I was accompanying my son Matt, who represented Iowa in the Denker tournament of high school chess champions held at the same time as the open in Indianapolis. I played in the leisurely 9 day schedule ~ 1 game a day for 9 days. The time control was 40 moves in 2 hours and another hour to finish the game as needed. When I last played in the Open in 2006 (Chicago), I was rated 1564 and went +2 -4 =3 for 3.5/9 points. I was hoping to have a better score this year.

In round 1, I played a master, John Stopa. John looked to be in his mid 50's with big head of hair and a Wilford Brimley mustache.




I thought it was a good start. Except for a few bad moves and a silly exchange sacrifice, I hung in there nicely and did my best.

But, after 1 round +0 -1 =0 0.0

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In the beginning…. (What’s in a name?)

I’ve wanted to start a blog for quite some time now, but I could never find the right name. I wanted a chess related theme, but this is not going to be the typical chess improvement (celebrate success, drown in failures) type of blog. Last Tuesday at a planning meeting for the St. Mary Fall Festival, my fellow committee member Eldon took an 18 inch pawn out of a bag, thundered out “Look what I found for you at a garage sale!”, and banged the big pawn on the table. When I picked it up, it broke into only 3 pieces. I say only because it was just a piece of pottery and could easily have been a pile of powder. Eldon apologized, and I accepted, telling him “It’s the thought that counts, Eldon, and I’m glad you thought enough of me to give me a broken pawn”. A blog is born!!

If I’d waited a day, I might have named this blog ‘Broken Car’. When driving back from our Thursday Night Chess Club, I went over some railroad tracks, the car stalled, and the check engine light went on. I finished my trip fine, but the car was stalling out every block the next day. The shop says it is a bad O2 sensor. I called the White House for help, but they won’t reclassify my car as a clunker. Till my car get’s fixed, I’m walking the 3/4 miles back and forth to work and lunch each day. I suppose I could commandeer the 2002 Cavalier I let my 16 year old son Matt drive, but it’s not worth the hassle until it starts snowing…