Normally when I play in a tournament that I have flown to, I spend Sunday night at the hotel. That way I don't have to worry about how long my game is going to be, or whether I'll make my flight on time. There have been times when I've taken a red-eye flight back home. With 11:30 pm departures, games running late are not an issue. However I wasn't leaving California after the tournament. I was heading down to San Diego to spend a few days visiting my nieces. It's great having family out in California. Makes for a good excuse to spend extra time out there.
As regular readers of this blog know, I'm not the most organized person on the planet. At times I'm "Last Minute Molly" when it comes to little details such as how will I get from Irvine to San Diego. My original intent was to rent a car in Irvine and drive down to San Diego. I was going to need a car in San Diego anyway. However when I went online to try to book a car the prices for a one way rental were insane. It was going to cost over $100 a day even for a little rinky-dink economy car. I even tried Priceline.com where I normally have really good luck getting a reasonable price. I had gotten an excellent deal on a one way rental from Hilton Head to Savannah last fall, so I figured I could do just as well. Wrong!!! California is not South Carolina and Georgia.
Time for plan B. What was plan B? Could I get a ride from someone heading to San Diego after the tournament? Was there a train to San Diego? Amtrak has train service to San Diego. Next question. How often and how late do they run? It turns out they run a number of trains and they run one as late as 11:09 pm. I would only need that train if I played the full 6 hours from 3:00 pm to past 9:00 pm. Not likely that would occur, but at least I had late options if necessary.
The problem with leaving on the last day of the tournament is having to check out of the room ahead of time. That means having everything packed and ready to go ahead of time. I was a little slow getting up on Sunday because I had stayed up late playing hearts with friends. It was the renewal of an old tradition from the 80s. Consequently I found myself running around the room throwing stuff in the suitcase as I'm eating breakfast on the the move. Eat a few spoonfuls of cereal, throw a few things in the suitcase, eat a few strawberries, pack up my assorted chargers for my various electronics, so on and so forth. Also I was getting bombarded with instant messages from someone who was upset about one the decisions voted on by the delegates. I don't type really fast, and when I'm trying to do three things at once, eat, pack and message I slow down even more.
Fortunately I didn't have to check out until 1:30, so I would have time to clear out of the room after the delegates meeting was done. I finally got my computer and headed down for the second day of the delegates meetings. As I got there they were discussing suspending the rules in order to go back and reconsider one of the decisions voted on the day before. Yes it was the decision that I had gotten bombarded about via Facebook messenger and my email box. It was decided to hold off implementing the rule change until January of 2012.
Here is how John Hillary of Western Chess described it: "Motion by Mike Atkins to suspend the rules to delay implementation of abolishing the 5-minute deduction. Steve Immitt in New York has apparently been haranguing everybody who will take his IMs, and and we get to waste a lot of time on this to placate him. Lots of smoke and mirrors. Since I've spoken against this, it would be unfair for me to summarize everyone's argument. We're up to 9:45 now, no real progress. Several claims that the Delegates "didn't understand" what they voted on. I certainly did. Motion to delay passed implementation for a year. Idiots."
I guess I'm an idiot since I not only voted to delay, but I spoke in favor of delaying. If that was the most idiotic thing I did all day, then Sunday would have been a good day. However there's still this matter of playing another under rated kid from California later that afternoon. Despite Hillary's perception of no progress in the meeting, we actually breezed through the remainder of the agenda. The meeting adjourned at 12:05 which was 55 minutes ahead of schedule.
I stayed in the meeting room to finish up my round 4 train wreck post. I had not paid for additional internet time in my room, so it was finish the post in the meeting room or wait until I got to San Diego. Considering that I did absolutely no blogging in San Diego, it would have been back in New York when I'd finally get around to finishing my round 4 post. Since it's the only one of my US Open posts that has generated any sort of comments, I'm glad I got it up in a somewhat timely manner. My remaining posts have been rather late and very out of date. Perhaps my readers enjoy my train wreck stories more then those moments when I play decent chess.
To make a long story short, I manage to clear out of the room on time, go out for lunch and make it back in plenty of time for round 9. I had forgotten to write down the train times for getting to San Diego, so before the round I asked Kim Cramer to look up the times for me. Kim runs the registration table and chess control at all the big nationals, so I knew she would still have internet access. She gives me the times starting with 5:09 pm. I wrote the time down, and said to her "That's rather early. If I can make that train then something has gone horribly wrong." You would think after "me and my big mouth" remarks on my part I'd know better then to say something like that.
I grab a piece of paper and make a list of train times:
5:09 (WTF happened? or Gift from Caissa!)
6:11 (Oh crap! or Somebody played too fast?)
8:17 (4 hour game with an hour to spare.)
9:31 (5+ hour game, and/or extended good byes.)
11:09 (Last game done. Miss this train, spend the night in the station.)
Now at least I knew how I would get to San Diego. The only question that remained was how would I get to the station without taking a taxi. The taxi ride would cost more then the train ticket. I figured depending on what time I finished I could find a ride with someone who was heading out at that point. However before I could figure that all out, I still had a game of chess to play. So what happens when my score is 3 out of 8? I get paired down again! Not only do I get paired down, I play another kid, and another female. I'm not sure if I've ever played another woman in the US Open, but I've certainly never played more then one, much less three in one US Open.
I had Black which actually I was very happy about. I was even happier when she opened 1. e4. In fact I was very pleased with how things were going until I noticed on move 14 that I was down a piece! How the hell did that happen? She walked into a line where Black wins a pawn. Unfortunately in this case Black had a serious brain fart, and totally misplayed the line. After White plays 10. Nxc6 Black is supposed to simply recapture. Instead I played 10...Nxd2. It wasn't until her 14th move I realized I had misplayed the moves and was down a piece for the pawn I "won".
I finally noticed when she played 14. Nbd5. She has all these really annoying threats, and I'm thinking to myself "Wow she's gotten a lot of play for that pawn. She might trap my rook on a8. I haven't developed my light squared bishop....Hey wait! Why do I only have two bishops and she has two knights and a bishop? Where did my knight go?"
That is probably one of the most sick feelings to have in a game. I'm worrying about losing the exchange or giving back the pawn, and then realize I'm already down material. WTF? She launched a vicious attack, won pawns and forced me to make trades that I didn't want to make. By move 24 she was forcing a pair of rooks off the board, and I was going to lose more pawns. I resigned at that point. I was shell shocked. Totally crushed by an 11 year old girl. Don't let anyone tell you that girls play more positional type of games. Not true. Why I played the opening that way defies logic or explanation. However I give my young opponent credit for how methodically she forced trades and made threats. Here's the game:
My snarky comment about not needing information about the 5:09 train had come back to haunt me. It was just after 4:00 pm. We played less then an hour. I could make that train with no trouble if I could find a ride to the station. I was ready to get out town, and go down to San Diego for my real vacation. Dewain Barber was willing to give me a ride as he was getting ready to leave. I just wasn't sure if my niece would be ready to pick me up for that early an arrival. I also wanted to say good bye to a few people first. Skulking out of town on Amtrak was not how I wanted to exit the scene.
I took the 6:11, which was still way earlier then I anticipated. I had not planned to lose the last round in an hour. However bad things happen, and one has to find the silver lining. What was the silver lining behind the black cloud? Views that I've never seen on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor line. Views that I would not have seen in the dark on the 8:17 or 9:31 train. This is what I saw from my seat on train #784, Pacific Liner to San Diego.
My early arrival in San Diego also allowed me to enjoy some outstanding pizza and local brews with my niece. Losing horribly doesn't have to be too horrible.
So where do I go from here? One anonymous poster asked me what has happened to my chess? I don't have an answer yet, though a few wins since I have gotten back makes me feel that all is not lost. I have a lot going on as I prepare for my black belt test this fall. In a future post I will discuss some of the challenges I'm facing, and how I might be able to apply them to my chess.