Last year when I played this tournament, I had bad results and I thought it was my fault because I didn’t prepare for it well. This year it happened again! But I did my homework, so evidently Walter High is able to organize a tournament that attracts the strongest players in the Southeast. In fact, I considered this tournament as strong as the World Open, with the advantages being that this tournament cost only $69 to participate in and I can travel by car, a mere six hours away so I don’t have to endure the harassment at the airport and the limitation of drinking water or lugging around a heavy suitcase.
This year I tried to prepare the best I could, recognizing that as an adult I have family and work obligations. But in general I knew it would be a very tough tournament. Unfortunately, my best wasn’t enough. It seemed to me that the North Carolina players are better than the Georgians. And this serves as a caution for those of us that next year will go again to play, and maybe, if we make a plan of action, we will be able to beat this strong opposition!
The tournaments organized by Walter High are always a pleasure because Walter is really one of the best organizers! I wish he could be cloned and put in every state in the U.S. as chess would surely benefit. For example, I booked the hotel late and I couldn’t find a place in the main hotel where the tournament was held. So I wrote a frustrated email to Walter expressing my regret that I would not be able to come to the tournament. He answers within 5 minutes (and this shows how serious and earnest he is!) providing me with information of another hotel, which is just a minute walk away. I phone and I’m able to book the room, which is a spacious suite with refrigerator and kitchen! So I cannot thank him enough for organizing this tournament and taking such good care of the participants, accommodating surely thousands of little requests similar to mine.
Another aspect of Walter High’s wonderful organization is the speed in giving the results to the participants. By 7:00 p.m. the tournament had ended and by 11:00 p.m. I could already check the results and changes in ratings at the USCF site (and I guess for some people, seeing the rating change was like being under one of the popular ALS ice bucket showers!).
There were four sections in the tournament and a total of 241 players. In the Open section there were 34 players and we have to look all the way to 12th place to find our first Georgian, Grant Oen (followed with the same score by Darcy James Linde), with players from North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia placing higher. Grant Oen lost 5 rating points, which is a sign of this tournament’s player strength. Then we have one of my favorite players of all time: Frank Johnson in 24th position! A terrible performance for Frank who loses 35 rating points. But is it really a bad performance or strong opposition? Maybe in Georgia we need to attract stronger players in order to improve our play?
In the Under 2000 section, we need to look 32 places before finding a Georgian player, obviously I’m not proud, but that player is me, also losing 10 rating points. A better result instead is in the Under 1700 section, where the winner is Georgian player, Weimin Feng, who gains nearly 70 rating points. And in the Under1400 section, we need to look at the 15th placement for finding Georgians Sanjeev Anand and Dhruv Rajaganesh.
The tournament was held in conjunction with the U.S. Masters, where gladiators from all over the world came to fight. Unfortunately the author of this article had to return to Georgia before the end of that tournament so my reporting on that was limited. I like the U.S. masters because it is possible to see in the flesh those masters we generally hear only the voices of in chess instruction videos from the most famous of chess sites. A few names come to mind, GM Bryant who writes articles and blogs, and Irina Zenyuk, and Alissa Melekhina, authors of chess videos and articles. FYI, Georgia’s own GM Zapata was also playing in this tournament.
Let’s look at a selection of games from the U.S. Masters and the Open.
Davide Nastasio is a novel chess aficionado, who has made of chess his spiritual tool of improvement and self-discovery. One of his favorite quotes is from the great Paul Keres: “Nobody is born a master. The way to mastery leads to the desired goal only after long years of learning, of struggle, of rejoicing, and of disappointment…” He has contributed previously to Georgia Chess Magazine in 2013 and is now a contributing writer in this new exciting media format.