Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Chess, Hermine, and an Interesting Weekend

I have not blogged for a few days. So I might as well tell my patient readers why.

I am still recovering from a pleasant but taxing long weekend playing in the Southwest Open chess tournament, the largest non-scholastic tournament to come to my South Texas neighborhood in many years. It was fun seeing my chess friends from both around here and from the Dallas Chess Club where I used to frequent in years past. Among the Dallas Chess Club friends is the current U. S. Open champion, GM Alejandro Ramirez. I am sorry if I appear to name drop, but we are always glad to see each other, and I am excited he is meeting more of his ambitions.

My chess itself was mixed, but encouraging. I started off Friday night by drawing (i.e. tying) Clemente Rendon, who was one of the favorites in my section and is rated almost 300 points higher than I. It was quite a fighting draw, so much so that it was the last game to finish at 12:30am, 4½ hours after it began. Amazingly, I stayed sharp both physically and mentally during the whole game.

My accomplishment became the talk of the tourney. In fact, after Alejandro had clenched first in the top section, he walked over and asked to see that game. I was honored that he chose to analyze the game with me. And he has the heart and humility to take an interest in the games of lesser players.

The rest of my tournament was a mild let down, however. I drew another game, lost one and won one. I gained a few rating points, some confidence, and more knowledge of what to work on. So I’m o. k. with it. But I was hoping for more, especially after a good start.

Two friends, including my rector, played in their first big chess tournament and did very well, which was nice to see. It is also good that now they will more fully understand when I groan about how hard chess tournaments are on me! (Maybe more on that one day, but I do not want to be a bore.)

Adding to the interest of the weekend was an announcement at the beginning of Monday’s play of the formation of Tropical Storm Hermine. I had been following the disturbance for several days. So I knew that it was not expected for it to become more than a lot of rain. Expections were mistaken!

To recap, Hermine actually began in the Pacific, in the Gulf of Tehuanepec. Yes, I had to learn where that was. It crossed Mexico and reformed in the Bay of Campeche. It was expected to hit Mexico again as a depression. But it went further north and strengthened explosively, hitting just south of Brownville at 65 MPH, just short of being a hurricane. A few more hours in the Gulf of Mexico, and it surely would have been a hurricane.

It was interesting watching the storm pass by from the chess room (which was on the top floor of a bayfront hotel – magnificent views!). The wind did increase and became an issue towards the end of the final round as it was creating a strange and distracting whistle in one of the big windows. I was finished, so I helped my fellow competitors by creatively jamming two chairs against the side of the offending window to mute the whistle.

I could go on. But it was indeed an interesting weekend with fighting chess, lots of good friends, and visit from Hermine.


Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi Mark,

What's your current chess rating?

Is it the highest it's ever been?

If not, what's the highest chess rating you've attained?

Mark said...

The SWO bumped it up to 1647. And that is my all-time high . . . for the moment. :)