My First USCF Tournament!

My First USCF Tournament!

Stephen_Stanfield
Stephen_Stanfield
Jul 30, 2017, 7:11 PM |
45
I had recently acquired funds, the knowledge of this tournament and two bottles of 5 hour energy. The time had come for me to become a USCF tournament player. It wasn't too far away and there didn't appear to be an entry fee. The only foreseeable downside was that it started at 7 pm. (it was for this reason that I decided not to use any of the five hour energy) My USCF membership was purchased the day of the tournament and we printed out my little temporary membership card. (I'm still waiting for the real one at the time of writing) I made sure not to eat anything within a few hours of the start time and came moderately prepared. I had my chess set complete with extra queens and a clock, a water bottle, my brother's fidget spinner,(borrowed with his permission, for RARing purposes) my knife and plans. I didn't bring a pen or paper with which to notate. Or money in case there really was something to pay for. (it wouldn't have helped if I did, I had only $4) When we arrived I struck up a conversation with the first person I saw who wasn't registering or behind the desk. I had read that chess players generally don't talk as much as other people do so I thought it would be pretty easy to be known by everyone there and spread the RAR. We exchanged names and bits of information about ourselves: She was one of the TDs and this was my first tournament. After my dad parked the car we both went up to the desk to register. I gave the man at the desk my paper membership card while my dad signed my name. After that he said something along the lines of "And that'll be $20." We were both surprised and disappointed as there was no mention of an entry fee in the tournament description. But my dad thought fast and pulled out his credit card, I would pay him back later. I tried to maintain a cheerful attitude and succeeded. The majority of the players there were under 12 with only 3 adults and one person around my own age. After I was registered and my dad was about to go to Costco one of the 3 adults walked in. He had a smile on his face and seemed like he could laugh at any moment. His name, is Louis Reed. He had his wallet in hand as he came through the door and started pulling out a $20 bill as we introduced ourselves. I walked into the room where the U400 and U800 sections would be played and wondered what to do. The room was filled with tables, (regular and ping-pong) chairs, chess sets and children. The all sat in pairs over the chess sets either playing or analyzing. As I stood there a boy around my own age approached me and introduced himself as Michael, it was his first tournament too. I was called to the chief TD and he asked me what my rating was. I had thought I would automatically be placed in the U400 because this was my first tournament but when I told him that "friends have said I'm around 1200" he put put me in the championship section. I had expected it to have an 1800, a 1600, a few 1400s and maybe even be invitation only. I was slightly nervous but was glad that my rating would turn out more accurate. Tentatively, I asked the chief TD what the rating of the highest rated player was and said something along the lines of "The highest rated player? That would be him right there." pointing to Mr Reed. I walked up and asked him what his rating was, expecting 1800 or 1600, he smiled and said 1400. It was enough to beat my 1200 but not totally out of upset range. There were 7 of us in the championship section Louis, Michael, another adult (this was his first tournament too!) me and three kids. There was only one clock (which Louis brought and used in his games) and the notating paper was at the front desk which I missed. For the first round I got paired against a 1000 who hung a bishop within 10 moves. It was then that I understood what they meant when they said that otb is different than online. There were tears in his eyes and I had to fight against pity. I was glad when it was over, I had to promote a pawn and checkmate him with a queen, bishop, knight, pawn and king. During the game I looked across at Louis's board, where he was playing Michael, Louis had an electronic device that allowed him to record a move in two taps. I also saw that Louis was up a piece. When I reported my win the TD said that it was a good player that I beat. In between the rounds I played and beat Micheal in 5|0 blitz (on my set!) and learned that there actually was notation paper in the building for anyone to use. I also learned that Michael plays on l!chess and that Louis plays on chess.com. I forget their usernames but I think Louis said it had "buzzard" in his and Michael's was a string of numbers that started with 19. The next round we had a clock, and I had a score-sheet and pencil. When I asked my opponent his rating before the game he replied "1200," A step up from last game. 
Notating was a pain! It felt like I spent half of the time thinking and the other half notating and correcting my notation mistakes. I would forget which way to write "d", "b", "c", "3" ect. Now that it's over I'm glad I did it though. I wanted to play Louis in between the rounds but my game was the longest and as we both had two points (yes, I saw him demolish another poor kid) it was almost certain we would play each other. We did. We used his very fancy chess clock and as we shook hands before the game I said "RAR!" He laughed and started the clock.
Having timed out my highest rated opponent I felt sure of the tournament! My provisional rating at this point was 1839! When I reported my win the TD scolded me for not respecting the regulars and the rating system. tongue.png I was so sure and confident that I decided not to notate my last game. A little voice in the back of my head told me not to be overconfident but I didn't listen. Here are the first few moves.
The game continued and I allowed him to open up my kingside but he didn't seem to do anything about it while I put rook on that file and won another pawn. I was preparing to roll my 4 centralish pawns against his 1 and win but he pinned my second knight to my queen and attacked it with a rook. Even though my pawn-winning rook was defending my knight I swept my other rook around to defend it. He made a move on the queenside where he had castled and had his queen and other rook. I saw a hanging pawn and I took it with my awesome pawn-eating rook! Unfortunately, the file I used to defend he took to attack by moving his queenside rook onto it. My knight (still pinned) now had three attackers and two defenders. I couldn't add any defenders so I pushed a pawn in the center trying to play on my biggest advantage. He took my knight with check and I traded off a pair of rooks and moved my king when he took with check again. He gave a long range check with his queen and now I was being hunted by a rook, knight and queen and defended only by my queen and some pawns. He moved his knight threatening mate in one which I missed. I grabbed a pawn to move it to the 6th rank then saw he could win my queen for a rook I was putting it back but he claimed the touch move rule I played the move thinking "Oh well, I'll soon get a new queen." I didn't. It was the fastest game of the round. Everyone expected I would win. The chief TD had already written out 1-0 on his piece of paper. Louis, who was right next to me didn't know I had lost till he finished his game. My dad was back and we waited. The other sections had finished and almost everyone had left so we hit a ping-pong ball back and forth. until the other games were done. There were two other players at 2.0 playing their games. Louis and the 1000 I beat in the first round, they were both playing white and I wanted them both to lose. Otherwise, there would be a tie for first and I didn't know what the tiebreaks would be. I noticed that the 1000 was down a piece against the other adult and that Louis was down a pawn against the 1200 I beat in the second round. Later when I checked Louis was up a piece and the 1000 had dropped a rook and some pawns. I was pretty sure my tiebreak would be better than Louis's but not certain. The games ended with Louis winning and the 1000 losing. When the time for trophies and medals came around the chief TD gave out some medals, one person who wasn't there won one and would receive it at a Panera. Then came the trophies. Third went to the boy who beat me, he had gone home but his dad was still there and would give it to him in the morning. I could tell pretty easily who second place went to because the chief TD kept looking at him while holding the trophy. After some talking (not unlike what's right here. tongue.png) he said "Second place goes to... Louis Reed!" Louis smiled broadly, steeped up and took the silver trophy. After that, to nobodies surprise, I was named first! I walked forward, took the shiny golden cup and shook the TD's hand. There were even a few who clapped and cheered. It was 11:15 when we started on our way home. I had my trophy, my chess set, my paper membership card, both games that I had notated and a bunch of papers telling about future tournaments run by Mr Rob Jones. It took some trading but I raised the $20 from my brothers and sisters and repaid my dad. I'm ready to go again but have to solve the problem of the entry fee. Thanks for reading. happy.png
(The man in the red shirt is the TD the blue sleeve belongs to Louis)