Friday, June 27, 2014

An update on my quest to play all 50.

For 4 years I had not played in any new states.  I did add a Canadian province, British Columbia by playing in the Grand Pacific Open in Victoria in 2010.  It's a tournament that I've fallen in love with and have now played in 5 years in a row. 

Finally last year I added state #27 by playing in the US Open in Middleton, Wisconsin.  I actually wasn't going play because I spent two weeks in Germany in July, then did a photography job in New Hampshire then I had a wedding to go to the weekend of the Delegates meeting.  How was I going to squeeze in the US Open?  However it was hard to pass up an opportunity to add another state, plus I had an offer to share a room.  That's something that doesn't happen too often. 

The compromise I had to make in order to get the most of the event and still make the wedding was to play the 6-day schedule, take byes for round 8 & 9 and catch a very early flight on Saturday back to New York for a 6:00 pm wedding.  I have to admit, I loved getting to play all my games at the civilized time control of 40/2, G/60.  Far easier then making the transition from cramming 6 games of game/60 in and then make the switch to the traditional time control.  It still didn't seem to help. I had my usual late tournament melt down. 

Because my roommate lives in Honolulu there was talk of me coming down to Hawaii for their Thanksgiving tournament.  Only expense would be airfare and food.  Free place to stay, Hawaii in November, what's not to like?  Chalk up #28.  The Open section would have been a nice 6 player round robin, except one player was a no show.  That totally snarled up the pairings, and I ended out having play one person twice.  He beat me the first time we played, I got payback on the 2nd go around. I actually won a little money.

As I have done for previous new states I will give more tournament details, and post the first game.  I just haven't had much chance to do so.  It's called writer's block, or perhaps in my case. Writer's distraction.  I can't seem to keep my mind on one task at hand.  I fact I wrote this post in the middle of an email I'm sending to someone in Alaska.  I'm heading up there next week, and trying to figure out if there's some way to squeeze in some tournament games.  I figured it would be nice if I updated this a little bit.

We'll see what happens.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Under Construction: Updated

This blog is dedicated to my quest to play a tournament in all 50 states. It was this article in June 2008 Chess Life that got me thinking about trying to play all 50. When I started playing in chess tournaments back in 1972, I never thought I'd make it to so many different places for tournaments. From 1972 through 1981 I managed to play in 16 different states. I'm still not sure if I've played in DC. There were a few tournaments I played in during 1977 and 1978 that could have been in Maryland or DC. That's going to take a little detective work. However DC isn't one of those places that lacks tournaments or is difficult to get to. I might just go play down there in August, and declare it as my first known tournament in DC. From late 1981 through early 2006, I had not played in any new states. From May 2006 to July 2009, I've added 9 more states.

I made my 26th state at the US Open in Indianapolis, Indiana last week. I'm now over half way there. I added four new states this year. I seriously doubt I'll add to the list this year. Though with me you can never tell. Maybe I can finally start working on the earlier states that I've yet to post.

The long range plan of this blog is to add posts which will contain my first game in each state, the tournament, score, pictures (if any), and what ever else might be of interest.

This is a work in progress as I have to go back through 37 years of score sheets and records to put my first tournament for each state. I've already put together a spreadsheet with each tournament listed. I just have to go back and find the games and put them into pgn files so I can I can load them. My most recent states have been easy since I already have those games in pgn format from my Mon Roi. The oldest games from 1972-1975 will have to be translated from English Descriptive.

I've already started putting up some games. Since I'm dating the posts with the tournament date they will appear in reverse chronological order. My sidebar will have links to each post. Right now the sidebar links aren't really needed, but as I add more states they will be necessary.
Recent additions have been Nevada which is #24. I finally finished my Tennessee post which was state #23 which I played in April.

Enjoy my chess journey.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

#26 Indiana

August 6 - 9, 2009
US Open - 4 Day Schedule
Indianapolis, IN

2 wins
4 draws
3 losses

Rating: 1700

Since the US Open moves around the country quite a bit, it has given me numerous opportunities to add to my "states I've played in" list. I've played in 12 US Opens. 7 of them brought me to a state I have never played in before. Some of those states I've not been back to since I played in the US Open there. I regret not going to the US Open when it was held in Hawaii. That would have added a difficult state to my list.

My 12th US Open brought me to Indiana. As I commented in my Kansas report, often these tournaments are in hotels that are kind of on the edge of town. Unless I have access to a car and some free time I don't get to see much outside the confines of the hotel. On this particular trip I had no time to see the sights, though Eric Strickland (ES_Trick) had offered to take me around the area. My visit to Indiana was confined to playing chess, attending meetings and socializing over a meal or glass of wine in the hotel restaurant and bar.

However since I took a train in from Chicago I did get to view the Indiana countryside as Amtrak's Hoosier train made its way towards Indianapolis. Yes, Indiana is as flat as people say it is. I saw lots of fields and a few cows along the way. As for downtown Indianapolis, the train/bus station isn't in the most glamorous part of town. To add insult to injury the major attraction near the train station is the stadium where the Indianapolis (formerly of Baltimore) Colts play. For this old time Baltimore Colts fan, who never forgave Robert Irsay for stealing her football team in the dead of the night, it was a hard sight to see.

The US Open is the last of the large one section Swiss System events. However with all the different scheduling options it doesn't truly become a single section tournament until the merge occurs at round 7. However no matter which schedule one opts for, there is always the wide swings in ratings from one round to another. At 1700 I can go either way in terms of getting paired way up or way down.

First Round in Indiana
photo by Zeljka Malobabic of Mon Roi

In the first round I just made the top half on the 4 day schedule group, so I got paired all the way down to an unrated. However playing an unrated doesn't necessarily mean you're playing a much weaker player. This unrated I was paired against had already played in a few tournaments and has provisional rating of 1749 on the September rating list. However they were using August ratings so I was playing an "unrated". If I had been playing two boards higher I would have played an 870 who only won 1 out of the 8 games she played.

Personally I prefer the challenge of playing an unrated of unknown ability. It adds a certain mystery to the game, not having much knowledge of a player's history. I probably played a bit tentatively. Perhaps I was a little psyched out by the Russian name. I can count on one finger the number of weak Russian unrateds I've played. The game ended out a draw which seems like a reasonable result between two players rated in the 1700s. However I did miss a move that just wins a piece outright. I didn't even realize it until doing analysis with Fritz long after the tournament was completed. Here is that game.


The next round I was on the other half of the break and got paired against International Master Ron Burnett who had taken a half point bye for round one. He drove up from Tennessee that same day and got caught in a bad traffic jam on the Louisville Bridge. The problem with getting stuck in bad traffic on a bridge is there is nowhere else to go. I'm anxiously waiting to see if I would have a game. I did not want a forfeit win. In the meantime he's trying to get to Indianapolis, and wondering if he will make it on time.

I couldn't sit still, and did not want to stay at the board and watch his time run down. I left the room, and was talking to various friends bemoaning the fact that I might win on forfeit. With less then 10 minutes to go, I said to a friend "I guess I'll go in and watch my opponent's clock run down." I figured at this point there wasn't much chance he was showing. However when I got to the board I saw that a move had been played and my clock was running. He had arrived while I was out of the room. He had 6:30 left on his clock.

I actually played reasonably well against him. I did not try to out blitz him with my big time advantage. However when I decided I needed to open things up a bit, that is when I got myself in trouble. Sometimes I feel like I have a really awful position and I'll make a rash move that was not necessary. Quite often my position is not as bad as I think, but because the inner pessimist comes out, I do something rash figuring "I'm busted so why not?". I really have to try to stay more positive. Here's the game.


My first win in Indiana would not come until round five. I would draw and lose to a couple of 1300s before scoring a full point. My fourth round loss can be found here. I got paired down to an 1101. There wasn't much to the game. He dropped a few pawns and I simplified. The ending was pretty straight forward. Here's the game with no annotations.


More games and stories about the tournament can be found here and here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

#25 Kansas

July 11 - 12, 2009
Kansas Open - Open Section
Lindsborg, KS
0 wins
3 draws
2 losses

I had played in the Kansas Quick Championship on Friday. As I mentioned at Castling Queen Side, my first round opponent was a no show. That would not be the case this time. I had to play the same guy who crushed me in round two of the quick event. The opening was the same, but at last I avoided some of the mistakes I made on Friday night. Unfortunately the result was still the same. I had my typical difficulties against d4 Colle type lines. I never got the light squared bishop out, and I let him get way too much play on the king side. I put up a little more fight then I had on Friday night, but it still was too short a game for my taste.


After drawing in the second round I played another one of my quick chess opponents. Like Friday night I lost to this guy too. He was the player that I was winning against, but tossed my advantage in an ADD loss of focus moment. However I guess I had made him nervous enough on Friday that he switched to e4 for our rematch on Saturday. The game is posted here.

Sunday would be kid's day. I would be paired against two of the teenaged 1600s that had also opted to play up instead of playing in the Under 1800 section. Both games would end in draws. The first one would be a fairly quick draw. The other one would be a long draw. Those two games can be seen here.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

#24 Nevada

June 6 - 8, 2009
National Open - Under 1800 Section
Las Vegas, NV
1 win
1 draw
4 losses

This was my first time setting foot in the state of Nevada, much less playing chess there. There are states that I have visited before ever playing chess there. I had been to Seattle, Washington several times on vacation. It wasn't until last year over the Thanksgiving weekend that I finally went out there to play chess. I can't count the number of times I've driven through Rhode Island or been to non-chess events there, but never playing there until 2008. On the other hand, every time I've been to Tennessee it's been for chess, but this year was the first time I got to actually play. All my other trips to Tennessee were to work as a tournament director or coach.

Since I do not gamble, and do not have any interest in it, Las Vegas has not been one of those places that's on my "Places to Visit Before I Die" list. However I have always wanted to play in the National Open because it's such a well run tournament. Friends of mine have told me "You must come play in the National Open. You'll love it." So for that reason, and for that reason alone I finally made it to Nevada. There are other places in Nevada I'd like to see, and not necessarily for chess. I would like to go to visit Lake Tahoe, and playing in one of the Reno tournaments wouldn't be such a terrible thing to do. My initial impressions of Las Vegas can be found in this post at my other blog, Castling Queen Side.

Photo by

I'm looking pretty serious in the above photograph, either that or pretty disgusted having started off the tournament 0-3. Now I know why I don't bother playing in the World Open. Why do I need to spend $300+ to get stomped on by 1600 players? Though I think the jet lag factor did contribute to my poor start. I flew in Friday afternoon, and started playing Saturday. Next time I play out West I'm coming out a day earlier and playing the regular schedule.

In the first round I was paired against a player whose name is Sky-Galenti Palma. When I come across unusual first names, it's fun to guess whether I'm playing a male or female, adult or child. I guessed my opponent would probably be male. I've seen girls with that name, but usually it's spelled Skye. I guessed he would probably be an adult. I was right on both counts. He had started in the three day schedule, but after starting out 0-2, he opted to try again in the two day schedule.

Recently I've been having problems with the White pieces. Somehow the dark squared Bishop either gets totally boxed in, or just ends out on some useless square doing nothing. I've been switching things around trying to work on this problem. However this first round game would be another one I'd waste time with the c1 bishop. It was not just time in terms of wasted moves, but also time on the clock. After 40 moves I had a slight edge with a rook and two pawns for a knight and a bishop. Unfortunately the slight material edge was negated by the big time deficit. It's hard to find good moves with only 4 seconds left. I tossed the material edge one move later, and then tossed the king a few moves after that by walking into mate.

Here is the game.


That wasn't exactly how I wanted to start the tournament. I was not going 6-0 this weekend, but there were 5 more rounds. I still had time to bounce back. I joked with friends about playing the Swiss Gambit. However in a tournament with 200 point rating ranges in the sections, there's really no such thing as an easy next round. In a tournament like this most players are going to play in their own section instead of playing up. Losing the first round was just going to have me matched up against another player rated in the mid 1600s.

Reports on the other rounds will be posted at Castling Queen Side.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

#23 Tennessee

April 4th, 2009

Super Nationals - Parents and Friends Tournament
Nashville, TN
1 win
3 draws
0 losses

This was my 5th visit to Tennessee for chess related activities. However this would be the first time I actually got to play here. My first visit was in 1992 for the National Elementary Championships in Knoxville. I was the Computer Chief Director for the Primary Championship. The funny thing was I had no idea what my job was going to be. I assumed I was going to be a computer assistant like I had been in 1991. My flight from New York to Atlanta got delayed, so I had to spend the night in Atlanta and catch a flight the next morning. I arrived just time to be brought straight to the tournament site, told I was in charge of the Primary section, here's your computer station, now get to work. Pairing software was still pretty new back then, and was all DOS based. Things have gotten a lot easier with the newer Windows based pairing programs.

A few years later I would return to Knoxville for the first Super Nationals. I had traded in my TD hat for a coaches hat. Coaching is a lot easier. The hours aren't as long. I think the hardest part about coaching was watching one of my private students in the Primary Under 800 on board one in later rounds, moving too fast or staring off into space. He went 7-0 in his section but ended out 3rd on tie breaks. It was an exciting moment for us. As you can see from the picture below, back then the trophies were more modest in size.

Nikhil Vaidya - 1997 K-3 Under 800 Co-Champion

I would make two trips to Nashville in 2005 and 2007 to coach before I'd finally get a chance to do some serious multitasking as coach, chess photo-journalist and player. If you followed my various posts, such as this one about day one, or this one about the tornado warning you know I had a busy weekend. Under normal circumstances I might have just skipped the Parents & Friends Tournament. However since it was my fifth trip to Tennessee for chess related activity, I could not miss an opportunity to add Tennessee to my list of states played. When I'm the assistant coach I have time to play in these side events. When I'm the only coach, I can't take the time to play on Saturday.

My first round game was a draw. Despite being up a piece, I couldn't convert the win. I had let his passed pawn get too far, and had give up my extra bishop to prevent the promotion.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

#22 Washington

November 29 - 30, 2008
Washington State Class Championship
Redmond, WA
1 win
2 draws
3 losses

For a detailed report on this tournament go here, here and here.

My first game in Washington was a win.


Unfortunately that would be my only win in my first visit to Washington.