U1800 Tales from the World Open, Pt I
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At 49, I'm starting to feel pretty old when I play over the board, and see mostly young up-and-comers. I only started playing chess at 28, so I'm also a late-starter.
I got my first rating (968) in 1992, and played quite a bit for around five years. Mostly these were club games, but I attended a few tournaments as well. I worked my way up to about 1650, took about seven years off, then played a bit more to get my rating up to 1756 at the beginning of 2004. Then nothing. I stopped playing completely. That was also the year I got married, though I don't think that was the reason I stopped. I just had too much else going on.
I did play some games online every now and then, and only recently I picked up the online pace at chess.com. Then finally the bug hit me again. I decided to play the World Open. I didn't do a lot of preparation for it, aside from a quick one-day tournament at a local club. There I did ok and was somewhat encouraged. These were my first rated games in over nine years!
The World Open was held in Crystal City, VA during the July 4th week and following weekend. It was a short drive for me, and it the schedule was convenient. I signed up for the four-day schedule, taking Friday off of work. I packed my paraphernalia and some snacks, and headed out early on Thursday morning for my first game.
The Hyatt Regency is about a 20-minute drive from my house. I had had a horrible night's sleep the night before, but I was full of coffee and in a good mood. I parked in an underground lot and walked a block in the sweltering DC heat. By the time I was indoors again, I was drenched in sweat.
Continental Chess had completely taken over three entire floors of the hotel. There were over 1,300 players there, and all of the ballrooms, conference halls, and meeting rooms were reserved for chess. There were so many pairing boards that I had trouble finding mine. That turned out ok because the parings were late -- and they were wrong. After some seating clashes and a re-pairing, we were finally ready to get started. My first two games would be at a faster time control, then the four- and five-day schedules would merge.
I was already tired, but I saw a very nice move on the board that would win a lot of material. As I looked and calculated, I could feel the adrenaline rush that comes when you start feeling more confident that your tactical shot will work. Suddenly awake, I continued...
Off to a good start with two wins!