Sunday, April 24, 2011

Grand Pacific Open - 1st Half

Three rounds down, and three more to go.  The trip from Seattle to Victoria was much smoother then last year's trip.  Literally and figuratively.  The weather was beautiful so it literally was smooth sailing.  We could actually see the Seattle skyline as we pulled out.

Space Needle - Seattle

During the trip the weather cleared up very nicely so we could actually see the mountains.  There still snow on them.  I don't recall actually ever getting such a nice view on past trips to Victoria.  

I met a few people who were also on their way to the tournament.  Last year in the chaos I had no idea if there were any chess players on the ferry or not.  I did spend the time on the ferry chatting with one of the players from Portland, Oregon who was playing in this event for the first time.  There are more Americans playing in the event this year.  Then again there are more players period.  They got over 100 players which is the most ever.  

The nice thing about how the tournament is scheduled is the fact that the first round is not until 6:00 pm on Friday.  The ferry from Seattle arrives in Victoria around 10:30 am which leaves a nice chunk of time to do some sightseeing before hand.  I chose to do a bus tour of Victoria and a trip to the Buchart Gardens.  I've visited the gardens several times before, but the flowers in April are very different then what I've seen in June visits.

Sunken Garden - Buchart Gardens

Spring flowers at Buchart Gardens

 Breakfast of Champions?

I got back in time to walk up to the super market and do some grocery shopping.  I like to eat my usual type of breakfasts when I'm traveling.  Cereal, milk and fresh fruit.  Somebody please explain to me why I can find better organic strawberries in Canada then in the United States?

When I check into at the tournament one of the organizers told me there was another player from New York.  I had seen the name on the advance entry list, but he wasn't somebody I was familiar with. He's played at The Marshall on Thursday night occasionally.  However I'd never met or played him.  Paul told me the he'd make sure to introduce us.  However no introduction was necessary as we ended out playing each other in the very first round.  What were the odds that the top half/bottom half would be such that we would actually get paired in the first round?  They even used my Canadian rating instead of my USCF rating.  It's a little strange seeing a rating under 1700 next to my name.  It was an interesting game, but I did lose.  He did out rate me by 400 points.  I will post some games later.  My first three rounds did not end out on the Mon Roi website.  Maybe things will get working right for my last three games.

In round 2 I played one of the players who I met at the ferry in Seattle.  He had recently left a comment on my blog asking when I was going to put something up about this tournament.  So once again what were the odds of that happening.  It was just one of those ugly games where I never quite got my pieces coordinated.  I tried sac'ing pawns to free up my position, but my pieces still were a mess and I was down two pawns.  I had a two choices.  I could play out the agonizing position down two pawns and maybe last another hour, or I could resign and have three hours to enjoy the lovely Victoria sunshine.  Unlike Bermuda when the weather sucked when I debated over an early resignation, this was a no brainer.

 Hotel Grand Pacific  - Tournament Host Hotel and Sponsor

 Provincial Government Building

Castled King Side (0-0) after Two Rounds?
What me worry?

One of the charming aspects of Victoria is that it's a very compact city.  Everything is within walking distance of the hotel.  Even last year, cane and all I was able to get around without much problem.  This year it was even easier.  There are lots of wonderful shops along Government St.  How does one recover from a rough game?  Retail therapy works wonders.  Tea, chocolate and wine were on my shopping list.

The harbor area is it's own shopping mall with lots of local artists selling their work along the promenade that circles the harbor area.  There one can find beautiful pieces of hand made jewelry, sculpture, wood carvings, prints, etc.  Most everything is of high quality and pretty reasonably priced.

What would a beautiful sunny spring day be without a few street performers?  Probably some folks would say "A whole lot better...."  Each to their own.  I have a friend from my cycling club who does street performances in sword swallowing and juggling so I always like to see how the locals compare to my friend.  I like my friend's work better.

After a nice afternoon of walking around, shopping and relaxing I was ready for more chess.  I finally got paired down.  I guess I learned something from my painful round two loss, because I was able to inflict similar pain on my round three opponent.  His pieces weren't well placed so I was able to keep him boxed in while I maneuvered my pieces around and came in on the king side.  He had castled queen side, but I was able to do more damage coming in on the king side.

In the meantime on the top boards the women were coming through in fine fashion.  WGM Nino Maisuradze of France and WFM Valeria Gansvind of Estonia are both 3-0.  NM Alex Yam is the other 3-0. He's paired against GM Igor Rausis of the Czech Rebublic who has 2.5.  The two women will be facing off in round 4. (Edit: When I first reported this I thought GM Rausis was the other 3-0. As a TD I should have figured that out because it would have made no sense having the two women playing each other if Rausis had 3 points.)

         WFM Valeria Gansvind                                  WGM Nino Maisuradze

Round Four is beginning in a few minutes so I am off to see if I can even up my score.  I am getting paired up again and have Black so I will have my work cut out for me. Stay tuned for further updates.


chesstiger said...

1 out of 3 is not a bad start for a 1600+ rated player. Hopefully you could win your round four game and have some exciting games in the last rounds of the tournament.

Robert McFetridge said...

Hi Polly,
Enjoyed your report on the Grand Pacific. I was there for about 1 hour to speak to some women about our August tournament. Unfortunately, I didn't meet you so I will extend an invitation to compete in the 3rd annual Bishops of Bowser tournament up island from Victoria. We are desperately trying to recruit more women so please bring women from NY (men are also welcome of course). I will be posting details at soon.

HG Pitre said...

Hi Polly,

I hope you made it home safely. You must be tired. I've been waiting to read the second half of your report. Could you get get in touch with me or the NWChess editor. We are hoping you can help us with a really good photo of the 2011 GPO Champion.

All the best,