My First USCF Tournament!
Jul 30, 2017, 7:11 PM 42
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. 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 man in the red shirt is the TD the blue sleeve belongs to Louis)