August 9th, 2008

abstract butterfly

coyote blitz outback

I got up early today and went hiking at Trinity Trail. I passed a woman riding a rather nervous horse. She said they had seen two coyotes on the trail, and chose to turn back. I hoped I, too, would see coyotes, as I had my video camera with me, which could zoom in on them nicely. I saw only the much-less-photogenic sight of fresh droppings. It was like have a lot of hat, or rather chat, but no cowboy.

I did get great video of cattle, of egrets and of the Summer-scorched vegetation. I love Trinity Trail because I relax when I hike there. I got my shoes a bit muddy on the shore, trying to get good bird video.

I showered and drove to north Dallas, to play in the United States Open Five Minute Chess Tournament. I love blitz chess. I did not get to play in the 9 day long full-bore US Open, but I got to play in this afternoon side event in which some 90-something other players played. I had assumed that my rating would put me in the median of the players, but in fact, the group was higher-rated overall, and I had to play opponents with ratings at least 150 points higher than my own in all but one round. After a first round loss to an expert which we may call "regrettable, bordering on embarrassing my play radically improved.
I won 6 of the next 12 games, scoring wins against an expert, 3 A players, and two wins against unrated. To evenly split with much stronger players in very competitive games was a really positive charge for me. I figure my rating will improve 10 or so points, but my confidence, shaken by my poor play at postal chess lately, improved 200 points. Chess, like trial, rewards detailed work and a sense of inner confidence.

I had so much fun, largely because everyone was so darn agreeable and friendly. It's just hard to muster much worry or emotion about blitz chess, because when each side has only five minutes on the clock, imprecise play is the norm. It was nearly a perfect noon to four chess experience. I loved the way one fellow, about my age, appropos of nothing struck up a conversation with me so that he could show me how he lost a game in a previous evening to a neatly-done mating combination performed by a very young chessplayer. It was a bit like having someoone bring a guitar and start singing "Guadalajara" at one's table when one is ready to eat one's pescado al mojo in a quiet setting, only more pleasant. The combination was very nicely done, and I recognized, as ever, that the young gamer generation gets training and has single-minded focus which I, with a few library books and desultory play, entirely lacked at their or any other age.

I regret, in a way, that I did not spectate at any of the evening rounds for this once-in-an-eon national championship being held in our fair metroplex, as it would have been fun to watch masters and grandmasters and one weblogger play whose games I have read in magazinesm. Perhaps tomorrow I will stop by during the afternoon sessino. Still, I had a delightful time. I believe that one of the most fun forms of chess is to play in a side event attached to a major tournament.

Tonight we went to the Down Under Pub, our local Aussie place. It's very good. I have no idea if it's authentic, though I know its owner is Australian, but I know the food is good. We ate our seafood, watched men balance on uneven bars, and then we drove home.