(Blind player William Gibson uses a peg board to feel the chess pieces.)
As most of my readers know by now, I am presently in Dallas, Texas at the 109th US Open chess festival. This tournament lasts nine days, although many participants choose the faster 6-day or 5-day schedules. For those of us in the more relaxed schedule, we have the opportunity to attend meetings or chill out during the day (e.g. write blog posts or go to the pool) and then play one game each evening. Considering the hot Texas summer weather (105+ daily with 80% humidity), most of us stay indoors for the bulk of the day. Believe it or not, some crazy folks even go sightseeing!
I have performed reasonably well in my previous four US Opens, including a brilliant win against GM Pavel Blatny in 2003 and a tense last round draw on board 2 against GM John Fedorowicz in 2006. In fact, I finished tied for 2nd place overall and qualified for the 2007 US Championship at the 2006 US Open in Chicago.
This year, I managed to win my first two games, both which are available on ICC in the USOpen08 account (type: "liblist USOpen08"). Certainly, the more interesting pairing came in round 1, when I faced one of America's top blind players. William Gibson from Texas, rated 1800, used a peg board which he could touch with his hands during the game. We exchanged moves verbally while I played for both colors on the traditional tournament board. Although I won our game without too much adventure, I was deeply impressed by how much my veteran opponent "saw" without actually seeing anything. My students better not complain about being "blind" anymore after missing a tactic!
The nightly games begin at 5pm Pacific time through Saturday (and Sunday at 1pm PDT). Blog readers may wish to watch the top boards live on the MonRoi website and on the Internet Chess Club (look under the Events list). The highest 8-10 boards (plus some of the top Denker games) are covered on MonRoi. Watch for me and maybe even Steven Zierk tonight!
Update early Tuesday morning: My two students and I had one of each result on Monday night. Congratulations to Nicholas Karas for beating 2045 with white in round 3 of the US Open, placing him at 2.0/3! Steven drew with Victor Shen (2265) as black in round 5 of the Denker and has 3.5/5 heading into the final round tomorrow morning. Sadly, I lost a much superior position as black in the stonewall Dutch to Kalin Nonchev (2177) after refusing a draw in the endgame.