Well, heaven it was not. Actually, chess is a lot of hard work, as one astute player, wearing an industrial hardhat, observed on a sign that he posted next to his board. At the US Championship Qualifier Open in Tulsa, Saturday was by far the most difficult day with three (!) rounds on the agenda. Playing three rounds in one day is unheard of in serious chess tournaments, except for faster schedules featuring G/60 or G/90. In Oklahoma, the time control is G/90 with a 30 seconds per move increment, which amounts to approximately G/120 for an average 60 move game. In other words, we could expect to play for 10 to 12 hours in a single day, against extremely stiff competition!
The day didn't begin well for me. I overslept! I had set my alarm for 7:15 so that I could read email, shower, eat breakfast and prepare for my 9:00 game against an International Master. At precisely 8:43, I awoke in shock! It turns out that I had properly set the alarm on my cell phone, but the phone was still on silent mode! Oh dear. I skipped the email, showered, skipped breakfast and preparation--and got to my board only 9 minutes after the round had begun. Whew! Fortunately, the opening went well for me and I easily drew with IM Dmitry Zilberstein (2457) as black.
I followed up my solid draw with a convincing win as white against Glenn Bady, a former master now rated 2186. Actually, I probably could have won more easily, but I was never in any danger. Fortunately for me, both of my games were medium length, meaning that I had two hours between rounds 3 and 4 plus one hour between rounds 4 and 5. Getting adequate food and rest takes on additional importance with that critical third game. Unfortunately, I went down in flames in the nightcap against talented teenage IM Salvijus Bercys. This final game, featuring my pet Dutch defense, was broadcast live on MonRoi and all of my games are in my ICC library ("liblist fpawn") starting at slot #30.
I currently have 3.0 out of 5. Before the first round, I predicted that anyone with 5.0 or more after seven rounds will qualify for the 2008 Frank K. Berry US Championship, plus maybe a couple of 4.5s with good tiebreaks. Thanks to my draw in round 1, my tiebreaks are awful. In other words, I need two wins on Sunday in order to qualify, a tall order no matter who my opponents end up being.
My pairing in round 5: superstar 13 year old IM Ray Robson (2426). Ugh!