A New Opening?
On the second day, we only had one game. However, for some reason the morning was a blur, and I was busy the whole time. If I work hard at recollecting, I think this is what happened that day:
Danny had arranged some special events, to connect the visiting top-level players with the local chess community. A simul by GM Gareev of Uzbekistan and a lecture by GM Ramirez of Costa Rica-- or the other way around. There may have been more to it. I think it's really important to organize such things, and really get the most local value out of a high-level event. Anyway, I started out my day by getting up early and going along with Danny, to hang out with him and maybe lend a hand here and there.
The next item on the agenda was a BBQ at John LaLonde's house (if you read my first day blog, you'll remember him as the sponsor extraordinaire of the event, and this is one example of how much more he does for the tournament). Mr. Lalonde worked the bbq himself, and he and his family hosted about 20 players from the tournament. Here we also had a chance to play ping pong and swim in his pool. I was a bit worried that the powerful Arizona sun would blast right on through sunscreen without a second thought, but I couldn't turn down the hospitality, and jumped into the pool along with GM Amanov and the kids (photo by J. LaLonde, lifted with assumption of permission). It was glorious, and I emerged unscathed (from both the sun and the water war featuring high-powered water uzis and canons, and bombs).
So I arrived at the playing hall shortly before the game, with no idea what openings my opponent played-- and no idea what openings I play. For the past couple years I have been playing an un-researched and rather wide repertoire-- as white 1.e4, d4, c4, and the occasional f4 or Nf3; within each of those openings some different lines; as black vs. e4: French, Caro, Sicilian, and e5; as black vs. d4: Semi-Slav, Benoni, Benko, KID, Leningrad Dutch, Slav proper, and a few other occasional visitors. So the way I often select what opening to play on a given day is to wait for a mood to strike me. Then I say, ah yes, I feel like playing this way today, and go with that opening. However, on this particular day, I was just in a pingpong, food, and swimming pool mood; how to translate that into chess?
So I found myself in the tournament room, 5 minutes before game time, asking Sam: "quelle ouverture devrais-je jouer aujourd-hui?" We used French because my opponent and all the other players were there. We made sure to mention all openings, because the names are somewhat recognizable, even in French. Sam had taught me to play the Slav Defense on a car ride from Berkeley to Las Vegas once, and I had only played it twice in tournaments so far (=1-1). He suggested I play it, and I said ok, remind me of the three variations: [d4 d5 c4 c6 nf3 nf6 nc3 dc a4 bf5] Ne5 Nbd7 Nc4 Qc7 g3 e5 de Ne5 Bf4 Nfd7 Bg2 g5-- here Sam interrupted me, to tell me, there's another move possible there that he has just switched to: f6. hmmm, makes sense, defending the knight on e5. ok, merci, Sam, and I went into the game...
Other than the slip where I did not go for it with h5, it was a well-played and tense game for me. I felt pretty good after it, and looked forward to the rest of the tournament.
That's a wrap for day 2 of my Copper State International. Stay tuned for day 3 tomorrow, "Downs and Ups," when the action heats up as I start getting matched up with titled players. [http://blog.chess.com/dpruess/downs-and-ups]