I found myself in Duluth, Minnesota this past weekend where I stayed in The Suites Hotel, site of the 2016 Twin Ports Chess Open. The hotel is on the edge of Lake Superior and the giant SS William A Irvin boat/museum is directly in back of the hotel!
Duluth is at the western most tip of Lake Superior. Access to east coast production via the Great Lakes and the northwest United States via the railroads made it the leading shipping port in the United States over a century ago. In addition the area had iron ore in the ground so a large US Steel plant was built in Duluth. With the decline of the steel industry the town came upon hard times but has reinvented itself as a popular tourist destination with 3.5 million visitors a year.
Welcome to Wyoming, Minnesota - home of $1,000 lottery winner Matthew L (leading to the conclusion that there are at least two Matthews in town). I managed to snag the last or only hot dog but forgot to check to see if it had been replaced on my way back.
After enduring an hour long delay because of a UNITED STATES INTERSTATE HIGHWAY being reduced to one lane in either direction between the vital 12 mile stretch of road between Hinckley and Pine City, Minnesota we arrived at the waterfront of Duluth around 5:30. We were staying at the tournament site which was The Suites Hotel, right on the waterfront of Lake Superior with a giant boat docked next door. Dane, Dane, and Oke were in the lobby selling tickets to International Master and You Tube chess personality John Bartholomew’s lecture and the following simultaneous exhibition by Grandmaster Bryan Smith in the tournament room on the 7th (top) floor. We chatted a bit and then I headed to my room. I was too tired from the trip to play in the simul or pay attention to the lecture but I did get the commemorative tournament t-shirt.
I got the chess rate of $110 a night at the Suites Hotel which was $21 less than the $131 I paid to stay in Jackson, MN’s Econolodge which had a tiny rusty refrigerator, a toilet that barely flushed, and a continental breakfast that had water in place of juice in the dispensers. Given my experience at the Jackson Econolodge I did not have high expectations but if I had the highest of expectations they would have been far surpassed. The room was gigantic and spacious with a full refrigerator (no rust) AND a stove AND a dishwasher! The Suites Hotel is a place a family could stay for a week or month and costs less than the Econolodge in Jackson, MN which has a view of a Burger King snd SuperAmerica convenience store instead of one of the Great Lakes.
Cody the Old Chicago server kept dishing out the soda while we waited for our pizza (which was worth the wait).
While Grandmaster Bryan Smith gave a simultaneous exhibition in the large tournament room on the top floor, I got acquainted with Bruno the security person/former bouncer/chess parent...
I hung around until around 10 watching the simul and talking to Bruno and then went to my extremely spacious $110 suite to get some sleep with the prospect of five long chess games over the next two days ahead.