Modeling the latest from Endgame Clothing
Greetings from Las Vegas! After a number of years saying to myself, "I need to play in the National Open.", here I am. I arrived yesterday afternoon. I didn't get here in time to play the 3 day schedule without having to take a round 1 bye, so I start play today in the two day schedule. You know how much I loath taking byes. I'm playing in the Under 1800 section. A tournament like this is not to be playing up a section. I can play up for a lot less money closer to home.
The interesting thing about the Dallas-Las Vegas flight was the number of TSA agents just standing around the gate area shortly before we boarded. I have never seen so many TSA guys standing around the gate area. My theory is since it's a flight to Vegas, probably lots of people are carrying cash for gambling and TSA people are there to keep an eye out on the crowd. Either that, or they wanted in the action if a poker game broke out in the departure lounge.
The plane was booked solid, in fact they were looking for volunteers to take a later flight. I should have done that, I probably would have arrived at the same time considering how late this flight was. However before I could even consider the possibility and get out of my seat they had their volunteers and then some.
This is my first time ever to Las Vegas so it's been a case of culture shock. All over the airport there are slot machines. They try to get you when you first arrive, and again when before you depart. My flight from Dallas to Vegas was late, so I had to haul ass to catch the hotel bus that left at 1:30. First I went to the wrong level of ground transportation, and the escalator to the lower level was on the other side. I did make it, just barely! I was already in time trouble and I had not even started playing chess yet.
Walking into the hotel lobby was my second moment of culture shock. The casino is right there in the lobby. Some how I figured the casino was in another area, or there might be a few slots in the lobby. I wasn't expecting this! Being from New York where you can't smoke anywhere it's a looking hard for me to stand in the registration line and smell smoke everywhere. Fortunately the tournament is on the second floor and there's no smoking on that level. However the smell does drift upstairs.
Welcome to Vegas. We want your money!
I met John from Endgame Clothing who is here with his wife and two boys selling their shirts. The two new designs are totally awesome. If you have not looked at his website and are looking for nice chess shirts, check it out. I don't really need more tee shirts. But with his stuff I make an exception. He gave me one of the new designs which I'm wearing in the first picture.
I spent the afternoon watching friends play, and taking pictures of a lot of the Grandmasters. This is a very strong tournament. A friend of mine played and beat an IM rated 2400+ on board 20 in round one. Awesome game. But to think somebody rated 2400 is only ranked 20th. If you read this post before I updated it you would have seen no pictures. That's because I forgot my card reader. My Mac laptop does not have a media card slot. Grrrrr! Thank you Chris Bird for loaning me your card reader. Now we have pictures!
In the evening while the tournament was going on, I wandered down to the casino and watched some of the various games. I decided I would try my hand at Blackjack. I played it in college for friendly stakes and this would be my first time trying it at a casino. I am not a gambler so the way I treat this is, I am going to spend $30 for entertainment. It was a lot cheaper then go to one of the Vegas shows that runs for $150 to $200, not including the $30 taxi ride to get down to the strip. So I bought $30 worth of chips, and when I lost them I stopped.
I'm a total newbie at this stuff so the dealer kept having to tell me, don't do this, you can't do that, and you should do that. I cost my self an extra chip when I didn't show my 21 right away. The other people at the table were giving me pointers on when to sit and when to take a card. I actually managed to not lose my 6 chips in 6 hands. I got to play a decent number of hands over the course of a few hours. This is not my thing, but it was an interesting way to pass a few hours. However I used up my allocated "gambling budget" for the weekend. I'll be sticking to chess for the rest of the weekend. That will not be a problem since I have 4 games to play today on the two day schedule.
Stay tuned. Games to follow.