Friday, March 28

Day 1 from Tulsa

(Black to move. Sadly, I was black in this position in the first round. Yes, I'm down an uncompensated exchange and completely busted. Rybka says +2.9. For example, white can play Na4-b6 to threaten my c8 bishop. Believe it or not, I drew this game! Mad skills.)
Here I am, once again playing chess in Oklahoma. I must be crazy, eh? I'm one of those chess nuts boasting by the foyer. Nonetheless, I can only say that this experience is both fun and a challenge as a competitor. Each day, I rub elbows and exchange pleasantries with many of the country's top players. Yesterday, I spoke with Cuban-American GM Julio Becerra. This morning, I ate breakfast with Texas ranger IM Joe Bradford. Before games, I would smalltalk with a variety of players, some from Northern California but others from around the country. Of course, the relaxed environment is merely a reflection of the friendly and at times jovial mood of organizers Frank and Jim Berry plus Tom Braunlich.
Unfortunately, the chess has not gone quite as well for me. In round 1, I was paired with Devin Hughes, a talented high school kid from Oklahoma, underrated at 1877. I stumbled into a line of the symmetrical English opening that obviously he knew much better than I did. I lost the exchange (see above) and probably would have resigned if he found one more tactic, but instead he traded into an endgame that gave me chances to draw. Somehow, I did just that. In round 2, I played WIM Alexey Root, senior lecturer for the renowned UT Dallas college chess program and official blogger for Chess Life Online (read her round 1 report). I played somewhat optimistically against the French defense and only later realized that my position wasn't as good as I had planned. Fortunately, my opponent blundered her e-pawn and, with it, the entire game. Type "liblist fpawn" on ICC to review my games, starting at spot #30.
At 1.5/2, I am paired as black against IM Dmitry Zilberstein (2457) in the morning. Danya Naroditsky has 1.0/2, having lost to IM Josh Friedel this evening. Why do we come all the way to Oklahoma to play someone from CalChess?
Games from the top 10 boards are available live at MonRoi (free registration). It is possible that my game tomorrow morning will be included. The organizers intended to post the complete standings online at the OKChess website either late tonight or tomorrow morning. Remember that tomorrow, Saturday, is the day from hell with three rounds, scheduled at 9:00am, 2:30pm and 7:00pm CDT.

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