Tournament Adventures: US Masters
It is a rare pleasure to play in a well organized tournament and innovative tournament. So many touranments feel homogeneous these days. The US Masters was run by an outstanding team of organizers and TDs; special thanks to Walter High and Gary Newsome for their amazing work. Rounds were run promptly, pairings were made available online, and sets and clocks were provided for all boards. The venue was also a highlight. The hotel was aesthetic and comfortable with a good room rate for participants. Most improtantly, the sheer fact of having a regular and succesful swiss system tournament designed for norm possibilities is extremely exciting. It's much more difficult for US players (as compared to European players) to find regular opportunities to compete for norms. With tournaments like the US Masters and the Sinquefeld Cup, it's great to see the US hosting more major round robins and swiss norm tournaments. Perhaps better chess historians than I can correct me, but I believe the last major round robins held on US soil were the Lone Pine tournaments which had their heydey the 70's.
Of course, special congratulions go to those who achieved norms - FM Razvan Preotu, FM Kesav Viswanadha, LM Michael Corallo, and NM David Hua. Personal congratulations especially to FM Razvan Preotu who also won the Mayor's Cup in my former hometown of Buffalo, NY this last summer. He had clinched the norm by last round, and might have had GM norm possibilities with a win. As Black, perhaps that was a bit much to hope for, but at the early stages that I saw he seemed to have a comfortable position against GM Kayden Troff in a Dutch.
Despite my great affection for the US Masters tournament and my fervent desire to compete again next year, my personal experience was not good. I simply couldn't get sufficient sleep for the duration of the weekend. It's often a problem I have in hotel events, but with the extended duration (9 rounds) against strong competition, I was really struggling by round 5. My hotel room was on the second floor, right above the lobby, and I could hear celebrations, queries, blitz, and check ins and outs all night and morning long. Despite ear plugs, I don't think I got more than 4 hours of sound sleep in any night. Considering that, my result was not so bad. I scored 3.5/9 and dropped to about 2290. I should have scored much worse as I was gifted 1.5 points in two completely lost positions. Of course, that doesn't take anything away from my opponents. They played excellently and fully deserved their victories and a couple more. My opponents were excellent persons, and I enjoyed exchanging thoughts with them after the game. Thanks to all of them for the hard fought games.
The good news is that chess is always interesting without regard to one's form I'm not going to post all 9 of my games, but I would like to share some interesting moments. My favorite game was actually one I lost in round 4 against GM Holden Hernandez. I felt that I generally played well in this game, and I should have been able to just save the draw in the endgame. I saw the basic idea to harrass his b pawn, but I missed harrassing the b pawn from the front when he prevented me from doing so from the rear. After that I was lost by a tempo when I tried to rush my king over. All in all, it was an interesting middlegame and endgame.
NM Sam Copeland - GM Holden Hernandez
Reece Thompson - NM Sam Copeland
Brian Tarhon - NM Sam Copeland