This past weekend the Charlotte Chess Center and the Carolinas Chess Initiative teamed up to bring Charlotte a healthy dose of a big tournament experience with first annual Carolinas Classic which was held at the University Hilton.
The tournament was quite ambitious offering a $10,000 prize fund guaranteed. Impressive especially for a maiden voyage. The tournament had an excellent turnout with roughly 180 entries into the main event. Peter Giannatos has done an outstanding job of building the Charlotte Chess Center and is leading the Charlotte chess community to a promising future. Walter High had mastered the art of putting together quality tournaments in our state as well. They make a pretty awesome team if I do say so myself.
Originally I had planned on playing the Under 2000 section. While I had earmarked a bye in round one, I was likely going to play all five games. I generally take the bye in round one in case my health problems act up (for those unaware I am in stage three heart failure with severe cardiomegaly.... or an enlarged heart.) Taking the bye buys me some time to make a final decision if I feel iffy.
My plans changed mid-week as I was able to get in touch with my cousin Danielle who lives in nearby Denver, NC. We got together for dinner on Saturday night, and I got to meet her fiancee and soon to be spouse Rebecca Smith. I found out they are getting married on July 2nd and am thrilled to see them happy together. We had a lot of fun getting back in touch.
This is me with my cousin Danielle. I had not seen her for at least 15 years before this past weekend. The next gap will be much much shorter...
The change in itinerary meant a change in tournament itinerary as well so now moving the bye to round three meant decision time. Do I stay in my section and hope to go 4+0=0- to get a shot at the $1000 1st prize or do I play up and take advantage of the opportunity to play up all four rounds (seeing as how I ended up being the lowest rated player of 28 in the section.) With the event being FIDE rated and games against experts and masters somewhat hard to come by, I chose to play up.
While I'm becoming increasingly curmudgeonly with regards to my willingness to play faster time controls, I decided to rest up Friday evening and take the Saturday AM round one where I got paired with a veteran expert from Columbia, SC Keith Eubanks.
The game was a Stonewall Dutch where I had some difficulty finding a good plan. Fortunately for me the clocks ended up in my favor and his flag fell. I got away with one for sure.
Round two was my first game at the FIDE time control for the event. I got the White pieces against long time master Neal Harris. We had played once before at the second FM Ron Simpson Memorial where I upset him in the first round.
I got into a little trouble in this game as well as he found a solution to my dubious pawn sac 19.e5?! I fought and clawed to keep a very weak passed pawn on the board long enough to maybe escape with something. He then got a bit too fancy and let me off the hook with 32... h5 after which I was able to improve my king's position enough that we agreed to a draw.
After the Saturday rounds I sit at two points out of a possible three. I didn't play all that great but sometimes a guy just needs a break. So the question is can I take advantage of the situation on Sunday?