North American Open (of 7) Round 1
I arrived in Las Vegas after the Christmas holiday by driving up with my mom from my home in Southern California. I entered the tournament largely because it's convenient: I got to combine a visit with my mom with the excitement (and potential to win!) of a chess tournament. Using ratings based primarily on my performance as a teenager, along with a few games (previously posted on my blog) in tournaments in 2008, I was placed in the lowest section (Under 1000). The entry fee was also lower than every other section, at $65.
When I got to the event, I realized I had forgotten to bring any kind of equipment. I had brought only a book of puzzles and a signed copy of one of Silman's endgame books that I had picked up on eBay. So I shelled out $85 buying a clock, chess mat, pieces, toting bag, and scorebook. But it doesn't hurt to have more equipment, especially since my old clock (from when I was playing 15 years ago) wasn't even digital.
Being a Swiss pairing system, my first game was against someone with a rating in the bottom half of the section.
This opponent was a child of maybe five and was having a hard time concentrating. He frequently failed to notice that it had become his turn, failed to notice what the last move had been, or failed to remember to press the clock after moving. (I was not so mean-spirited not to point this out occasionally.) When I saw the combination leading to the capture of his Queen through a discovered attack and check, the game was essentially sealed.
Thus began my experience at the North American Open 2009 in Las Vegas, the second-largest tournament held in North America last year. I was already one for one, and my apprehensions that I was going to get knocked around soundly by hyper-competitive players for being underprepared (I had played very little chess in the months before the tournament) were dissipating. Things were looking good already.