Round one North Carolina Open

Aug 26, 2016, 10:01 PM |

For several years now Walter High has taken on the responsibility of piecing together North Carolina's premier chess event in the Greensboro Internationl Chess Festival. This year is the first that he is organizing the event by himself as his partner for several years, Gary Newsom, "retired" from chess organizing. Gary is playing in the event this year, but his successful transportation business in Charlotte that occupies enough of his time that he could no longer devote time to the organizing aspect ogf chess. The two made a pretty amazing team in building the North Carolina Open from a moderate-sized event to the Pearl of the Southeast with the US Masters, now a nine round FIDE norm event included in the festival for several years now. From the first look at the event, it seems like Walter is keeping things going quite well.

I am playing in the Open Division of the North Carolina Open. Of course, this event is special as it's the first time I'm entered in a tournament as an expert. Now I did play as a pacer (a house player who gets paired as if he's entered even though he is not eligible for prizes. This is done to prevent players from having to sit out a round.)  at one of the Legends of Ligon events, but this is the first official entry.

The original plan was to take a bye in round one. With my health problems, I often will sit out of one the rounds and take a "half-point bye" which counts as a draw in the standings. This is done for the convenience of players who may not be able to play all rounds for whatever reason. With my heart problems I usually use the bye to conserve energy.

However my position in the field for the one day schedule gave me the potential to do something I've never done before. I got the opportunity to play an International Master, the second highest title in chess. I rescinded the bye as soon as I arrived at the hotel for the opportunity.

The game was highly interesting and I was holding my own for the first 23 moves. I even managed to trap my opponent's queen, although she got a lot of compensation for it. In fact she got a rook, a knight and two pawns. Maybe she was trapping me.... Laughing Either way Crafty had me with a slight advantage when I decided to challenge her rook on the open g-file. In doing so I neglected my a-pawn and after she traded rooks on g8, she won my a-pawn and used the knight and forward f-pawn to seal my king in while the rook pinned my bishop. Within six moves I was mush.

Overall I think I put forth a good strong effort in this game. It was certainly a fun game as any game with significant material imbalance tends to be for me. Her rooks were nice and active though and I had a moment where I lost my cool in defending. That's all it takes with a player of her caliber though.