My goals for the tournament were simple and very similar to my goals for Jackson : To play in all the games, take at least one minute for each move after the opening (the time control was 90 minutes per side for each game the same as Jackson), and be aggressive against the stronger players. I had signed up for the open section and expected to play stronger players in every round so I didn’t set any goals like trying to win money or rating points or games or anything like that. I wanted to play well and if that led to wins and rating points and money and fame that would be great but if I didn’t win any games I’ve been there and done that plenty also. Most of all I just wanted to play. Chess is a sport and if you’re good enough (which I’m not) it can be an art but it is primarily a game and games are meant to be played.
I had more than four hours of driving since it was Friday and I started my day heading to St. Francis in Des Moines for the Friday chess club I run in return for using their cafeteria for my youth chess tournaments. I had everything packed on Thursday night and loaded up my car on 5:30 Friday morning with my St. Francis stuff, my computers, and two days worth of food and clothing and made my way to West Des Moines.
The 'Friends of The Jackson County Libraries Book Sale' at the Jackson American Legion Hall. If you a need an 8-track tape of 'One More Polka' by Marv Herzog you'll have to wait until next year's sale...
On the left is Sam, his sister Lila, and her husband Jerry. On the right is the South Dakota speed limit of 80 miles per hour. You can only go legally faster (85 mph) in Texas (click to see the map).
We got to the Sleep Inn in Sioux Falls at 7pm and I logged in the game results from St. Francis, keeping an eye on the Yankees loss to the Chicago White Sox before turning in at 9pm. I wouldn’t have played in this tournament if there was a Friday night game after a long day with no naps but the Sioux Falls Open had three games on Saturday and two games on Sunday.
The Great Plains Zoo, home of the 2015 Sioux Falls Open. On the right, Grandmaster Alex Yermolinsky was the tournament director and he was checking people in at the door!
In between marveling at the mounted animal collection at the Delbridge Museum of Natural History, I played my first round opponent, Samarth Ram.
I didn’t know Samarth’s rating until I looked it up after the game. I didn’t believe it and was right to not believe it since he has been tearing it up over the last month and beat a player stronger than me in the last round of this tournament. Samarth took his time (he used 75 minutes while I used 59 for the game) and was very patient in developing his position and trying to counter attack. For myself I was very pleased with my game at the time and looking at it with computer help a little later I still think I played well with my only fault not finding that I had a way to take the pawn on c6 with my knight and get it out of danger. It was a very tense game and I was especially pleased that I was the agressor thoughout and didn't go into my normal 'try to pull the game out in the ending' mode. After surviving the first I rewarded myself with an apple for lunch and a nap before round two while Sam headed off to the Wendy’s with Jodene and Riley.