Last weekend, Greg and I played in our first chess tournament. It was called the Colonial Open and it was held at a hotel about 10 minutes away from my house. For all the background on how I decided to join a tournament, read my previous post.
I had several goals for this tournament. My #1 goal was to not embarrass myself! What does it mean to not embarrass myself? I didn't want to get checkmated in less than 20 moves. I didn't want to blunder my queen away. I didn't want to come in dead last. I didn't want to break any of the rules.
Other goals were:
- Have fun
- Get the feeling of a real chess tournament
- Try hard and stay focused
The tournament started at 10:00am sharp. We arrived to the hotel about 30 minutes beforehand so we could get situated. When we arrived, we looked at the wall posting to see which board to go to and who
|My chess dress|
As Mike Wardian told me in advance, many of the players were small children. In my division about half of the players were children and most of them were ages 7-10. The older children tended to be in the higher divisions. Mike played in the U1700 division, which was the next level up. In my room, I would guess about 75% of the players were men and 25% of them women. I played all men: two adults and four children.
Mike introduced me to one of the players he knew who lives in Virginia Beach who is also a runner. He told me that he had read my book and really enjoyed it. WOW - a small world that I go to a chess tournament and someone has read my book. Yes, I have sold a lot of copies, but not that many!
The First Game
My first opponent was a cute little boy, I am guessing around age 7. I played as white and he played as black. The tournament began and the clocks started. We each had 45 minutes to play our moves. But if you make your move within 15 seconds, you get a bonus 15 seconds added to your total time. As I said in my previous post, these tournament rules were all new to me. For the first game, I wasn't even aware of the extra 15 seconds.
The game ends when one of these things happen:
- One player checkmates the other
- One player has no legal moves (this is called "stalemate" and its a draw)
- One player resigns
- One player's clock runs out of time
|My first opponent|
After the first game, Greg, Mike Wardian, and I went to grab a quick lunch. My game had lasted about two hours and was the longest of all three of us. We shared stories and it was really exciting to hear how their games had gone. Greg won his game and Mike lost his. We all learned valuable lessons and I was excited to try again. Game 2 started at 1:00 and Game 4 started at 4:00.
|Greg, me, Mike Wardian, Adam (the runner)|
So, I lost all of my games. I wasn't down about it though. I was frustrated with myself for that final game, but at least I know what I need to work on. On the other hand, Greg won all of his games! Amazing! I was so happy for him. He was absolutely crushing it. We were mentally exhausted after all of that and treated ourselves to a nice dinner out.
Another kid, this one was maybe 10 years old. He was similar to my third opponent in that he made safe moves and never set up a strong attack. And, exactly like I did with my third opponent, I blundered away a piece as time was getting low. We each had about three minutes left on the clock. Because it was so close, losing a piece at that stage meant losing the game so I resigned. Once again I was super frustrated with myself for losing focus. I actually thought I had that game won because I had more time than him, I had a better position, and all I needed to do was to keep putting him in check. And I was putting him in check every move, but one of those moves happened to be a square where the piece could simply be captured.
Another adult! Yay! Before we started playing, we chatted about the tournament so far. We both had one win under our belt. In this game, I immediately found his weakness, exploited him, and checkmated him in 12 moves. It took me about six minutes. Way to end on a high note! Since our game was so quick, we went into the lobby and I showed him how I did it: how I spotted his weakness and took advantage of it, setting it up several moves in advance. Here is how the game went. I played as white.
|My final game: a 12-move checkmate!|
After winning his first 3 games, Greg had two losses followed by a final win. So he won four games and lost 2. I lost 4 games and won 2. Because of this, he ended up winning the "unrated" bracket, which equated to prize of $100. We had no idea there would be prizes at our level so this was an unexpected benefit. Greg joked, "It only took me 9 hours to earn $100!"
I'm officially hooked and I want to hire a chess coach! I really need the coach to teach me mental strategies for not blundering. I know all I need to do is think about each move very carefully before I make it. But when my clock is running down, I feel like I have to move quickly so I don't take the time to ensure that my move isn't a huge mistake. I think I'm being careful, but I am actually not.
- I did not embarrass myself, as I was able to hold my own for at least 35 moves each game
- I learned so much, particularly how tournaments "go" and what to expect in the future
- I had a lot of fun and it was cool to watch Greg and Mike Wardian play when my games ended
- I can officially say I played in a chess tournament
- I won two games
- I checkmated someone really quickly
- I met some really nice and smart people
- I won against all the adults I played
- Study openings more so that I can move quicker in the beginning and save time for the end
- Be more careful about my moves when the clock runs down
- Relax, try not to get so anxious
- Be more confident in my abilities, but do not underestimate my opponents
- I lost against all the children I played
|I got a chess mask!|