Western States Open - Early Day 1
Woke up at 6:45am this morning, finished packing, got the kids ready, picked up my father-in-law, and headed to the airport to catch a 9:25am flight. Always a little bitter-sweet saying good bye to the kids, knowing you're gonna miss them, but also looking forward to the few hours of complete freedom and lack of responsibility that lies ahead.
Airport wasn't too bad, and I just started reading a new book. It's GREAT! I was laughing so hard, I just have to recommend it, its called, "a Walk in the Woods". Great great book!
Was just able to catch the hotel shuttle, literally, I was running after it yelling. Right when I got into the large white van, the first words of conversation I heard coming from the back of the bus was, "I just played him the other day, and asked him how he found that move, and he said the computer recommended it." Ah....the familiar chat of fellow chess players. Good to be "home".
Met up with Erik in the weight room (wow he's looking trim these days after a couple months on the p90x diet/routine), got my roomkey and headed for the elevators. After several tech support phone calls with the local wireless provider here at the Sands Regency, finally got onto the internet. Erik and I are here to observer, promote, enjoy, and possibly throw in a little bit of poker as well.
Just walking down the halls here gives me some very nostalgic feelings. I flew here by myself when I was just 16 years old, a senior in high school, to play in the very same tournament, back in 1994. Wow, that was a long time ago, when the internet was still a pretty novel concept. How times have changed.
However, this hotel, the carpets, and especially the smells, have not. Musty old smell mixed with the cigarette smoke and the faint body odor of people who clearly don't believe in deoderant seem oddly pleasant to me. This very same hotel is where I once spent 8 hours straight as a teenager, playing craps until 4am. Thats not why I enjoy the smoke and smells though.
I have realized that these normally repulsing smells remind me of grinding it out at a chess board for hours, hoping to crush my opponents and create a masterpiece on the chessboard. I love how the hours pass by like minutes. I love the competition and the intense silence and hushed wispers. I love the chess player scowl as two players analyze and discuss their game in the main hall after its over instead of properly moving to the skittles room. I love the crowd that gathers around the newly posted pairings boards, scanning for their board number and opponent, and the eager anticipation of a hard fought battle in the near future. I love the longing for your opponent to play into all your hours of opening preparation. I love being in the presence of greatness as Grandmasters stroll around the room no doubt deeply in thought about their current position.
I LOVE CHESS TOURNAMENTS!
Gonna go downstairs and find some food...the tomato juice with no ice on the southwest flight wasn't quite enough to carry me through the day, and I turned down the peanuts...what ever happened to those sugary honey roasted ones?