Sunday, April 15, 2007

Foxwoods Chess Open 2007

Well, I got to participate in my first Foxwoods Chess Open and I can't say anything bad about it. The people at Continental Chess always put on a well-run tournament. The entry fee for this one was $227 via credit card. It's very steep, but the advertised 1st prize for U1800 was $5,000. I dont think that this was the case in reality because Jennifer Shehade of Chess Life claimed that the first prize winner---a young lady name Ginsburg---received only $1,000 of the $4,000 pot because her rating in the latest rating supplement was significantly higher than 1800. I reckon that is part of the anti-sandbagging rules laid down by the organizers. That means that the runners up got more money! Hey, nevertheless, congrats to her who scored 6.5 points out of a possible seven.

As for yours truly, I scored a miserable two wins, two draws and two loses. I didnt stay for the last round since after my second loss ( Round 6 ) I knew I was just playing for pride. It's a 2.5 hour drive from Bergen County, New Jersey each way if the Cross Bronx Expressway doesnt cost you an hour in traffic by itself. The CBE must be the most miserable highway in NYC. Heck, I almost got killed on it in the early 1980s.

Back to the tournament, the playing hall was actually the grand ballroom of the Grand Pequat Tower. It is on the same level as the gambling rooms but none of the noise seeped into the playing hall. Food was expensive. Figure around $10-$12 for an entree that would normally cost $6-$7 outside. I know, I know, it's a casino! Buffet breakfast at the Two Trees Inn was $12. That's where I had a room and it is serviced by a 24-hr shuttle bus. Really, it's not a long walk to the casinos. As advertised, it takes only a 15-min walk, and I think that is about right. The inn has gotten some bad reviews at Tripadvisor.Com, but I disagree with them. I slept in a clean room and the shuttle bus didnt keep me up nor wake me from my sleep. The walls could be thicker though since I could hear people talk or cough in the adjacent rooms.

Funny, at one time during play, I heard a cat meowing. It was fairly distinct and players started looking around. I swear it was a cat, and not a prankster. Perhaps, an onlooker carried a cat in a travel bag. The meowing brought some momentary relief from that heavy, stressful ambiance that pervades the competition hall. Another light moment in the tournament occurred when the serenity of the playing hall was broken by a very young person's, " check, check! " We had a good laugh at his youthful intensity!

Don't you hate it when someone bangs the pieces on the board? This dude with dark glasses, arms folded, and a smug look on his face tried to intimidate his opponent with this kind of behaviour. Sure, he had a winning position but no need for such antics especially if your opponent is a bespectacled, studious-looking, 8-yr old Asian kid! What an ass.

I didnt really care much for the big name players who competed in the Open section. They seem to be the same people who compete in every big-money tournament. I tell ya, I bet most of them don't have a life! Going from one chess open to another isn't exactly being out there living your life. Anyway, this young boy named Robson slugged it out with the best. He's an FM, and someday he will have his name in lights. I think his mom is Asian and his dad is Caucasian---good combination.

I was observing IM Dave Pruess play against an FM in a bishop and pawn ending, and Mr. Pruess did not seem to take too much time thinking over his moves. It seemed like he knew exactly how to play the ending. I guess he's a gifted player and a future GM. I saw GM Anatole Lein lose to an unknown. He's moved on in years. I think he has lost much of his chess prowess, but he continues to compete which by itself is very commendable.

In one game, the clock used had both analog and digital time that did not agree and the player in time trouble called the tournament director for his judgment. Obviously, the discrepancy in time didnt become a factor until a blitzing finale loomed on the horizon. The TD decided that the players use the digital read out over the analog. The difference in time was two minutes.

There was this guy on the shuttle bus who sat next to me saturday night, after four rounds of play in the 3-day schedule, who proceeded to tell me about his game where he employed the center counter as black. He recalled all the moves of the game. The strangest thing about him is that for all his precise recollection of the game he didnt recognize that I was his opponent! I just kept quiet, and enjoyed the moment.

Of course, the Filipino players naturally gravitated towards each other. I met people there who I haven't seen in years. I reckon they have been competing regularly while I was on break. After every round, we'd circle around and lick our wounds and tell our respective war stories. Great thing about us is that we treat each like brothers even if we were just introduced. Just don't break that trust!I dont' know if it is true that one guy went from his round to an all-night poker game, got two hours sleep, and then played his next round for a win. Jeez!


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