Sunday, May 25, 2008

Polly In LA LA Land

"I'm late, I'm late for a very important date!"

I have to remind myself I'm in California. They do things a little different around here, and the passing of time and distance isn't the same as it is in New York. Be prepared for a much longer walk then planned when a bellman tells you just to walk down to Sepulvida Blvd and walk three blocks to get to the closest supermarket. "It will take about 15 minutes." 15 to minutes to where? Sepulvida? 3 blocks? Who are they kidding? Three blocks in the land of giants? I'm a New Yorker. There are street blocks and avenue blocks. These were not either. So what I expected to be a 45 minute food run ended out being more like 90 minutes. Oops!

I didn't mind the long walk. It was sunny and finally had warmed up. It was so cold yesterday I felt like I was still in New York. In fact it was warmer in New York then it was in "sunny California". Go figure. But there was one major issue in terms of time and distance. I thought since the first round was at 10:30 the second round would be at 5:30. Most tournaments I play in with six hours of playing time usually have one hour between rounds. So when I arrived back at the hotel at 5:50 I thought "Okay I'm going to be 25 minutes late for the round. No big deal. I almost never use all my time in the first control." I went up to my room, dropped off the food, and got my chess bag. The message light on my phone was blinking, but I paid it no mind. Usually it's message from the manager saying "Welcome to the Hilton. Enjoy your stay." Anyone who really wants to reach m calls me on my cell phone. Though I leave it off during my rounds because I get no reception and only drain the battery. I had turned on when I got back to my hotel room, but I forgot to take it with me when I went out.

I get downstairs, calmly walk up to the pairings, write down my opponent's name and head into the room. Someone asked me if I was alright. I said I was fine. I told the TD I had walked to Ralph's Supermarket and it took longer then I thought. He said "you walked to Ralph's? That takes about 40 minutes!"

I go to my board and notice my clock reads 65 minutes. Huh? What's the time control again? 40/120 G/60. I'm 55 minutes late?? The round started at when? 5:00 PM. In the 36 years I've been playing in tournaments I've never forfeited a game, and I've never been that late before. 40 moves in 65 minutes. A little hairy, but doable. I'm not sure what got into me, but I played the opening totally crazy. Maybe it was due to how late I was, and how far behind on the clock I was going to be. As it turned out the time handicap wasn't much a factor. In fact at one point in the game I was only a few minutes behind on the clock. He used a lot more real time then I did.

Here's the game with not too many notes. I was lucky to draw.

It turns out I had gotten several phone calls from different people wondering where I was. The message on the hotel phone was from Randy Hough telling me I was about to run out of time. Another friend had called me on my cell phone, but since I didn't have it with me I didn't get her call. If I had it with me then I could have had her come pick me up. She assured my opponent that I would come. Better late then never!

Hopefully tomorrow I can make it to the board on time, and hopefully I don't play the obnoxious kid in my section who slams his pieces on every move, has a hovering father and played a position all the way out to mate down a rook and queen. He's way too high rated to be playing out a position like that against a higher rated adult opponent. I got a good chuckle when his opponent retaliated by slapping the queen down on the mating square and screwing it in as he said mate. When I mentioned to one of the locals I thought the kid was obnoxious his comment was "It didn't take you long to figure that out."

Note to self: Rounds are at same times as they were today. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM.

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