Friday, March 07, 2008

Getting the band back together

OK, so I took a 573 day break from posting! I’m back now, ready to fire this old blog up and see what we can make of it. I’ve been getting back into chess lately and actually played in my first tournament last weekend in, well, 567 days! Yep, I haven’t been over the board since the 2006 U.S. Open. Didn’t play in a single tournament in 2007, quite a drought for me. The stars finally aligned last Sunday and I was able to slip away to the Touch Move Chess Center and play a 4 round, Game/45. But before I get into that, let’s recap, since I never did post any thoughts on my final round at the U.S. Open oh so many moons ago.

I lost. Horribly in fact. I was really crushed by this back then, I can remember sulking around the city at lunch time for days afterward contemplating which bridge would be best for me to chuck my chess set, clock, books, the whole she-bang into the Chicago River. A bridge near the Eastland Disaster site? Fitting. How about the same bridge where the Dave Matthews Band tour bus took a dump on unsuspecting tourists below? Also fitting. I had been paired down and went into it thinking a win would put me at 5/9, a plus-score and possibly a money prize. Counting your winnings before your opponent has tipped his King over is NOT a good recipe for success! I had the white pieces to boot, but passive play against an opponent who was also thinking of finishing strong and soon my position was overwhelmed and it finally collapsed. He went on to tie for first in his section (he won $800, your welcome). I finished in 302nd (out of 543) and put my chess set away for awhile. Looking back now, had I won I would have taken home a cool $28.57, prizes being split among a large group in my section that finished at 5/9. That’ll learn ya.

I actually have not been chess-free for the last 573 days, I’ve played literally thousands of blitz games online over the months. It’s the only chess I have time for, often late at night on the Playchess server based in Germany. I like the software interface they have over the other servers and most of the players are European which, in my mind, means they’re decent players. The FICS site (Free Internet Chess Server) is, well, free, which means the quality of players is, well, uneven and the ICC (Internet Chess Club) server is U.S. based so most of the players are Yanks which means, well, they can be rude.

So, yes, I did finally play in a chess tournament again! I had contacted IM Angelo Young, proprietor of the Touch Move Center Chess, via e-mail earlier in the week about needing to re-up my state and national memberships in order to play. He replied asking me to show up prior to the start of the tournament to get this settled. Two things are humorous about this: um, I was planning on and, if you really think about it, REQUIRED to show up prior to the tournament wasn’t I? Also, it’s the 21st century Drew, both organizations allow online signup these days. I could have hopped online and re-upped my memberships at any time. Duh.

Being mentally buried in the late 90’s, I arrived at the club about 40 minutes early. Turns out it’s only 2 ½ miles from my house! Well, I was the first to show up, even prior to IM Young so the doors were locked and the club empty. I went back and sat in the car for awhile until I saw activity in front of the club via my rearview mirror. I hopped out and went across the street only to find out it was another player waiting for the doors to open as well. I milled about on the street for another 15 minutes or so, the tournament was scheduled to start at 9:45 and it was already 9:40. I was thinking the whole thing was a bust and visions of the murky greenness of the Chicago River filled my head until IM Young appeared from down the street, opened the doors and away we went. The bridge launch will have to wait.

Only 11 players showed up, an Expert or two and two Masters, one being NM Albert Chow a friend of mine from chess days past. With a field this small, the likelihood of me being paired against an Expert and/or Master was high so I’m figuring “welcome back, Kotter” After a 19-month tournament hiatus I was going to get thrown right back into it. “You’re dreams are your ticket out” indeed!.

I’m in the process of analyzing and annotating the four games I played for posting on the blog so keep checking back over the next few days or so to see how I did. I was rusty and played some gruesome chess, let’s be honest. I was lucky, too, in that each of my opponents was a human, so the gruesomeness has that way of affecting both sides of the board! I’m excited about chess again, I’d love to drive up to Wisconsin tomorrow and play in the “First MCA/SWCC FIDE FUTURITY” tournament but let’s not get hasty here. My schedule doesn’t permit it and I could use some study. The Chicago River will always be there for me if my chess turns south again but I’d rather not have to load the trunk up with chess paraphernalia for that sad drive just yet. Chess clocks do float, don’t they?

No comments: