I drank lots of AMP Focus Energy at last year’s Jackson Open and given my pedestrian play didn’t think it helped me much if at all. After my poor play at the Okoboji Blitz I paid a lot more attention to nutrition and sleep habits at Jackson – I drank water with lemon juice instead of energy drinks, got plenty of naps, ate an apple after each game, and snacked on a few almonds during the games. This was all as planned but I still wanted to have something for a little boost in case I needed it. When I got to the Casey’s at Marshalltown Iowa to fill up my car with $2.64 a gallon gasoline I saw a tiny bottle in a large cardboard container on a rack with the letters ‘FOCUS’ printed on the container in large letters.
The two and a half ounce bottle was called REFocus. The RE stands for ‘Rushmore Essentials’ which is the parent company and the ingredients were 21 fruit juices that made up the product along with ginseng (and green tea to provide caffeine). There were no other extra sugars, sucralose, or aspartame to add sweetness but there were also no added chemicals like choline, taurine, guanine, or kerosene that went into most of the other energy drinks. The company also makes REVive, REShape, and REBuild and they all are in the same little bottles with green tea and 21 ‘all-natural superfruits’ with REFocus having added protein and ginseng, REShape having added Yacon Syrup and REBuild with added protein. If I owned the company I’d make a product called REIncarnate and watch the money roll in. I doubted the REFocus would help but since I wasn’t likely to find anything better between the Casey’s in Marshalltown Iowa and Jackson, Minnesota I plunked down $7 for two bottles and made my way to Jackson.
When I woke up from my nap after my game with Joe there was still one game finishing up on a lower board. Top seed Dan Voje won his game to maintain the only perfect score with three wins and there were four players a half point behind : myself, second seed Josiah Jorenby, Ian Stone (one of Riaz Khan’s traveling companions), and Minneapolis teenager Franklin Zhou. I expected Josiah to play Dan while I would play Franklin with Ian playing someone with in the next score group since he was the lowest rated player of the four. Once again my expectations were wrong but this time it had nothing to do with the pairing software. Franklin decided to go home instead of playing the last round which left me playing Ian Stone on board two in the quiet room reserved for the top players in the tournament.
Ian is a college student from the University of Minnesota with a distinct Irish accent. I didn’t know anything about him but since he came with Riaz I assumed that he was one of the Chess Castle crowd and therefore as tough as nails over the board as I have found every Chess Castle player to be.
My tournament situation was dependent on the board one game between Josiah and Dan. If Josiah won or drew I could sneak into a tie for first with a win. If Dan won a draw would assure me of a tie for second place while a win would give me second place and $200 all by myself. I was back in the extra quiet room reserved for the top players in the tournament and had earned the right for the final round instead of merely being a guest as I was in round two. I got myself a large cup of water and squeezed a half a lemon in it. I felt like i needed a little boost so I poured a bottle of REFocus drinkinto my lemon water and started my game with Ian.
Top board tension!! In the super quiet top board room I battle Ian while 10 yards away Josiah and Dan fight for first place. Notice how on each board the player have adopted the same placement of their hands. I don't know whether this is some sort of subliminal one-upmanship, psychic sympathetic stuff, or just my own psycobabble....
I felt then and I feel now that this was an excellently played game on my part where I outplayed my opponent. Excellent but not perfect. I missed the way to win an extra pawn on move 30 as well as the Nc6 follow-up to winning a pawn on move 18. I was quite impressed with my REFocus drink – I spent plenty of time on the critical moves and although I didn’t come up with the right answers I never thought I was thinking in circles. Once Dan Voje won his game and locked me out of a chance to sneak into a first place tie I saw no reason to try to win this game but if first place was on the line Ian and I might still be playing. Objectively the game might have been a draw but with the extra pawn I would have been happy to keep playing to see if I could trick or exasperate Ian into making another mistake. As it turned out I only had one goal left to attain from the 2015 Jackson Open and that was to finish high enough to cash in which the draw made a reality.
Slowly and surely the other boards finished up and when the dust settled I finished in a six way tie for second and collected $65 dollars which was half the price of my $131 room at the EconoLodge. Ironically if I had won my last game I would have collected $200 which was $135 more than $65 and just enough to have paid for my $131 room at the EconoLodge. I helped Sam get the tournament rated, Dan Voje and I helped Sam set the church hall for Sunday, and at 9pm Saturday I headed home from Jackson 35 hours after leaving Marshalltown.
I'm not often a winner in this world so it was a special pleasure to take a place with the Jackson Open prize winners!
The Jackson Open is the only weekend chess tournament I’ve played in since 2012 so I treat it like a big deal to play in which to me it is. Sam ran a great tournament, the new playing hall was tremendous, and just like Okoboji everyone gets along great. I had a great time and played so well that the possibility exists that I may have hit another chess gear even though I’m barreling towards 55 years old. This possibility has me planning on playing in another weekend chess tournament later this month. The one goal I didn't reach was to win the tournament and get my name on the Flores Cup of Jackson Open champions but I’ve been at it just four years and the 2016 Jackson Open is only 50 weeks away!