A decent tournament, finally

by admin on May 26, 2008

Today was Memorial Day in the U.S., a holiday that is often considered the informal beginning of summer. The Memorial Day weekend is an ideal time for three-day chess tournaments, which range in size from huge (the Lina Grumette Memorial Day Classic in Los Angeles) to gargantuan (the Chicago Open). A few states have their championships this weekend, too–Louisiana, Texas, Massachusetts, Washington.

I didn’t play in any of those tournaments. But I did play in a little tournament near to where I live, in Santa Clara. It wouldn’t even be worth mentioning, except that it was the first half-decent tournament I’ve played in a long time. In fact, I won my first cash prize since the 2006 Western States Open. I finished in fourth place with a 3½-2½ score (two wins, one loss, two draws and a half-point bye), and won $60. The entry fee was $59, so my net winnings for the tournament were one dollar. So we’re not exactly talking about headline news here. Still, it was nice to do something right for a change.

A slight digression: People who aren’t from California usually don’t know the difference between Santa Clara and Santa Cruz. Among those people I include myself. In my last year in Ohio, when I applied to the Science Communication Program at the University of California at Santa Cruz, I began my letter to the program director by telling him how excited I was to learn about this program at “the University of California at Santa Clara.” He must have had a pretty good laugh at that one. (There is no University of California at Santa Clara.)

Here are seven other ways to tell Santa Cruz and Santa Clara apart:

  1. Santa Cruz is on the coast. Santa Clara is not.
  2. Santa Cruz has surfers, hippies, and homeless people. Santa Clara does not.
  3. Santa Cruz has t-shirts that say, “Keep Santa Cruz weird.” If Santa Clara had a t-shirt, it would probably say, “Keep Santa Clara geeky.”
  4. Santa Clara is in Silicon Valley. Santa Cruz is not.
  5. Santa Clara has hundreds of featureless, square, glass office buildings, which all seem to be headquarters for companies whose names ends in x: Xilinx, Symyx, Citrix, Affymetrix, etc. There are also a few whose names don’t end in x, like Intel, Yahoo! and Applied Materials. Santa Cruz has almost no high-tech companies. We do have Plantronics, but that company was evidently founded by somebody who knew how to spell.
  6. Santa Cruz has fog, redwood trees, and monarch butterflies (in the winter). Santa Clara does not.
  7. People in Santa Clara have jobs and six-figure incomes. People in Santa Cruz have no jobs but feel really good about themselves.

Anyway, getting back to the chess tournament… The two games that I won were both King’s Gambits where I played White. One of them was kind of boring; I won a pawn and ground out the endgame. But the other was a really nice game. It was the first tournament game where I can really say that my win was attributable to the things I have learned by giving lectures. In fact, there were two that I learned from. I won’t go over the game in detail here, because I want to save it for a future ChessLecture. But if you want to prepare ahead, review my lectures on “King’s Gambit Declined: Inspiration from David Bronstein” (1/15/2007) and “Tactical Motifs 202: Reversing the Move Order” (7/13/2007).

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Robert May 30, 2008 at 8:24 am

So this means if I go to the University of Santa Clara Law School next year I won’t be able to play you some blitz in the cafeteria? Bummer!

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