USCF tournament play


A year ago, after playing on for about a month, I showed up at the Carrboro Chess Club. I had picked up chess again after about ten years. I didn't even have a full set of pieces; I had just ordered a set and a board. They hadn't arrived yet.

I'll never forget that day. These guys beat on me to the point of humiliation, yet they were perfectly gracious, helpful and encouraging. The told me things like, "You played very well considering you were down a piece," all the while sounding sincere and not the least bit smug. Never the less they gave me a lot of important lessons.

So for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that I wasn't very good, I decided not to invest the $40 in USCF membership until I had been playing for a year. I figured if I stuck with it that long and improved somewhat then it would be worth the investment.

It took me a long time to win a game at the club. I kept hanging pieces. Then I kept losing engames. My tactics stunk. I got beat twice by an eight-year-old.

But I kept playing, at the club and online. I kept studying. I kept practicing tactics. I started going over the games I played on line and then started to record the games I played at chess club. I started a second night of chess club so we now meet twice a week.

I started to draw and win every once in a while but I really mean once in a while. I probably still lose three out of every four games I play at the club, and its worse with blitz. I play on FICS and but nothing is like OTB.

So March first I joined the USCF and my card came in the mail right before the Bobby Fischer Memorial in Wake Forest. I showed up there yesterday hoping for a 1.0/3 but I guessed it was even odds whether or not I would score a zero. I just hoped I wouldn't embarrase myself.

It took a little less than an hour to drive to drive to Wake Forest. In the car I was asking my friend Ed all sorts of questions about tournament play and ratings and we talked about his six-year-old son who is a rising chess star and will probably play his first tournament later this month.

There were 35 entrants in the tournament. We had an open section and a <1400 section. I'm not sure how many of us were in each section. I have the feeling that the open section was bigger. I do know that the open section contained 4 players rated over 2000 and one of them was an FM. I and my friend Ed joined the <1400 section.

I have to thank the guys at chess club for all they put me through this year. I'm much better because of the stiff competition that I have found. In fact I was better than I thought I was. As I go through the three games I played, I post them here in other entries. Good chess!