June 6 - 8, 2009
National Open - Under 1800 Section
Las Vegas, NV
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 mychessphotos.com
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.