In my previous three attempts to win the Jackson Open and get my name inscribed on the Flores Cup I’ve won five games, lost three games, and had two draws. Every year the pattern was similar – I’d play lower ranked players in the first two rounds to be among the leaders and then lose to one of the top seeds in round three. In my first two Jackson attempts I was so exhausted after my third round game I withdrew from the tournament and took a nap before heading home. I broke that string last year when I played in the fourth and final round after losing to a top seed in round three.
Last year at Jackson I had only one goal - to play in all four rounds of the tournament. I had slightly more ambitious goals this year:
- Play all four rounds It's good have an attainable goal and keeping it in mind would help remind me to conserve my energy for the long haul.
- Be aggressive against the stronger players Last year I had cramped positions in my games against Sam and top seed Dan Voje. This year I wanted to make sure I had active positions.
- Take at least one minute on each move after my opening knowledge was exhausted I wanted to avoid playing in the too fast fashion that led to a blunder that cost me second place last year.
- Win a cash prize I’ve never won a cash prize at Jackson which requires finishing in the top three. Winning three out of four games has historically been good enough for a top three finish.
- Win the tournament and get my name on the Flores Cup A long term goal but well within my capabilities any year with good form and the right breaks.
On the left is $2.64 Casey's gas in Marshalltown, Iowa - home to a Republican Governor that accused his opponent of plotting to raise the gasoline tax during his last election and then raising the tax himself months after his reelection. One the right is $2.59 gasoline at a Casey's in Jackson, Minnesota - a state that elected profession wrestler Jesse 'The Body' Ventura as Governor and Saturday Night Live writer Al Franken as Senator. Is it any wonder that Donald Trump is so popular with Republicans?
After eating my sandwich I drove the additional 100 miles to Jackson non-stop and arrived at the EconoLodge in Jackson, Minnesota at 2:30. I’ve stayed at the EconoLodge in Jackson, Minnesota twice before and found it to be a clean, quiet, inexpensive motel. I made the reservation last week over the phone and didn’t think to ask about the price. This was a big mistake since the room for one night in 2015 cost $131! I asked if there was some sort of mistake and the owner/clerk said I could have gotten 3% off if I asked for the AAA discount when I made my reservation. I checked my credit card bill from last year and the same room at the same time of the year for the same Friday night cost $93!
Rusty refrigerators and water in place of juice at the breakfast bar - and all for $131 a night at the EconoLodge in Jackson, Minnesota
I didn’t really care as much about the rusted refrigerator racks or watermelon or cranberry juice in the EconoLodge in Jackson, Minnesota as I cared about the extra $38 dollars I had to pay for the same room as last year. I made a mental note to make mention of the 'EconoLodge in Jackson, Minnesota' in my blog post as much as possible so it will get on all the Google searches and took a nap at 3. In April I didn’t take a nap before the Okoboji Blitz which (in addition to my 3,000+ calorie lunch) contributed to my Olympic ring (5 zeroes) performance.
I woke up from a great nap at 5:30 and headed over to the playing site. In past years, the tournament was held in the Senior Center and Library with the courtyard in between the two buildings serving as a skittles area. The library is undergoing construction this summer so Sam held this year's edition at the Jackson United Methodist Church. When I got to the church, Sam was setting up and I was the first player to arrive. I liked the playing hall a lot. In prior years the top five boards would play in the library and the bottom boards would play in the Senior Center. The church hall had enough room for all the players with the top two boards having their own large quiet room with glass walls that allowed for the other players to admire their top two board-ness and view the games without disturbing them.
Sam was excited and rightly so; the tournament had 24 players signed up which would make it the second biggest Jackson Open ever. Sam doesn’t put the tournament on to make money – he puts the tournament on because he loves chess and wants to show off his town to the chess players and vice versa. Sam showed me the entry list and it looked to be a pretty strong crowd despite the absence of three time defending champion Eric Bell due to his passing the 2000 rating mark and being no longer eligible.
There were five players rated higher than myself and two more that were among the eight players that were arriving Saturday and taking a half point for the Friday night round. Then players started arriving for Friday night’s round one, including Riaz Khan. Riaz is a big supporter of the Jackson Open and brought two other players from Minneapolis’ Chess Castle crowd with him. Riaz asked me where I was staying and I recounted my tale of the unexpected $131 bill from the EconoLodge in Jackson, Minnesota. Riaz had a laughing fit and told me that he paid $150 total at the Earth Inn for three separate rooms (one for him and one each for his two traveling companions). Riaz was really enjoying my unsavvy consumerism and called me Hank Moneybags or Hank the Bank – I forget which. I was making a mental note to call the Earth Inn next year and when my facebook and chess.com friends Destiny and Josiah Jorenby showed up to register on site. I excused myself and chatted with the Jorenbys and their dad, being careful not to mention anything about lodging or the $131 I paid for a room at the EconoLodge in Jackson, Minnesota.
On the left is the church hall at the Jackson United Methodist Church. On the right is my round one opponent Mark Hansen.
All the top seeds except one made it through the first round with a win and I was happy to have my first point. In my previous Jackson Opens I started as the fifth seed. The difference between being the fifth seed and the seventh seed was that instead of playing a lower rated player in the second round I’d be playing one of the top seeds. I played the top seed in the third round in my three previous trips to Jackson with a 0-3 record so I thought it might help to play the top player first thing in the morning. None of that mattered until the next day so I headed back to my $131 room at the EconoLodge in Jackson, Minnesota to get a good night’s sleep. I felt like I deserved a reward for my victory so I stopped at the SuperAmerica convenience store for a snack. The BrokenPawnophiles amongs my readership will remember that last year I was able to purchase two Old Trapper beef sticks for a dollar from the Jackson, Minnesota SuperAmerica convenience store and that Daisy and Baxter were soon hoping we’d all move to Minnesota. The SuperAmerica still had the Old Trapper beef sticks but at a 38% price increase of 69 cents apiece. I bought one Old Trapper Beef Stick and ate it while sitting in my $131 room at the EconoLodge in Jackson, Minnesota. The Old Trapper beef stick was as awesome as the two I had last year and I was soon fast asleep with the prospect of three long games of chess on Saturday.