Wednesday, October 6, 2010

If you build it, will they come? *

  Last month I wrote about the poor attendance at the Iowa Open and noted that I would be having a chess tournament in Marshalltown on October 9th with a $5 entry fee. Since then, I was able to waive the entry fee to the tournament and anyone can play for free if they just let me know they are going to attend up to the day before the tournament.

  I thought a free tournament would attract at least 40 players. 3 days before the tournament, I have 27 players signed up, including 5 players from our local club. This is slightly disappointing but not unexpected, since Marshalltown is a 45 minute drive from Ames, an hour drive from Des Moines and Cedar Rapids and 2 hours from Iowa City, which are the major chess centers in the state. I’m sure there will be a few players who decide to play on the spur of the moment, so I should top the 30 number. My major goal for this tournament was to bring in some outside competition for our Thursday night club members and that will have been accomplished.

  A possible problem I may have is if the players who have pre-registered don’t show up to play. I’m obligated as the tournament director to assign pre-registered player a first round game. Normally, if someone doesn’t show up, their opponent receives a free point and the entry fee is forfeited, but in this case there is no entry fee. I don’t expect any problems, but it is something to be aware of.

  Because Marshalltown is central to most of Iowa’s major chess centers, I generally get an eclectic mix of players who don’t normally play each other, so I’m looking forward to a great tournament. I’m hoping I get the chance one day to try this same free chess tournament concept in Des Moines or another large city, but for now, I can say that in Marshalltown at least, it I build it, they MIGHT come.

  A side benefit of the tournament has been to get me back into the mind set of running tournaments as I gear up for my Des Moines scholastic series. Ordering trophies and prizes, sending out emails, getting the tournament posted on-line, making sure my tournament box is supplied with pens; tape; and other materials, and all the other little things that go into putting on a tournament took some getting used to, but at this point, I can just relax and watch the Yankees in the playoffs today and tomorrow while on Friday I can celebrate the 54th anniversary of Don Larsen’s pitching the only perfect game in World Series history for the Yankees against the Dodgers at the same time as my 50th birthday.

  I was hoping to relax watching baseball, but not only did Halladay of the Phillies pitch the second postseason no-hitter in baseball history (sullying the uniqueness of my birth date), the Yankees are losing 3-0 in the 5th inning. When Sabathia is winning, he look like a BIG man to me; but when he is losing, he just looks FAT. If you think it is hypocritical how my perception of a player can change with a home run or 2, remember the word fan is derived from FANatic.

* The actual line from the movie 'Field of Dreams' is "If you build it, he will come", but it seemed a little poetic licence was in order.