No more excuses!

by admin on January 31, 2010

The Bay Area has been blessed with three large open tournaments in the first two months of the year. In January we had the New Year’s Open in Santa Clara, won by Sam Shankland, and the Golden State Open in Concord, won by Alex Lenderman. The latter tournament was especially exciting, because it was the first foray by mega-TD Bill Goichberg into northern California. So the prize fund was much larger than we usually see in these parts — $40,000 guaranteed, with $2867 for first.

Not surprisingly, all that dough enticed some players we seldom see. Walter Browne, who mostly plays poker rather than chess these days, made an appearance. Lenderman himself was a surprise, coming all the way from New York.

However, I managed to find excuses not to go to either of these events. They were too soon after my most recent events (or so I said), and I hadn’t caught up yet on going over my games from last year (so I said). But with one more big tournament still coming up, I decided that there were to be no more excuses. So in two weeks’ time, I’m going to play in the Peoples’ Tournament in Concord.

The Peoples’ Tournament has a venerable history. This will be its 36th running, but this year it will be in a totally new venue. It was started in Berkeley in 1971 by Alan Benson, who, according to the California Chess Hall of Fame web page, “personified Berkeley tournament chess during the post-Fischer era.” Traditionally it was held on the UC Berkeley campus.

I played in it maybe three or four times, but I never had good results and I didn’t enjoy it very much. It’s always hard to find parking in Berkeley, and also the tournament was held in a student center that was right on the main plaza, so there was often quite a bit of noise in the vicinity (including drumming one year).

Now that Salman Azhar has turned Bay Area Chess into one of the busiest affiliates in the country, it was natural for him to take over this traditional but struggling tournament. Last year he organized a “Peoples Replacement Tournament,” because the regular Peoples Tournament was not held, and this year he has apparently gotten permission to take the word “Replacement” out of the title. It will be strange, though, to have the Peoples Tournament uprooted and moved to a posh hotel in Concord. It’s a little bit like, I don’t know, running into Fidel Castro at the Republican National Convention. The revolution has been gentrified.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Isabel Lee May 20, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Fidel Castro would always be an icon of history evethough he is against the U.S.:~.


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