Today I slept in a bit, not waking up until nearly 9. I worked for a bit on Trollope's The Duke's Children, which I have been edging through for a long, long time, while other things get read in the interim. I love Trollope, but The Duke's Children runs slowly for me. At least I get to spend more time with the pleasant Lady Mabel Grex, a character in whom chivalry, ennui and self-preservation mix in delightfully equal measure.
I had meant to get up and hike a bit this morning, but by the time I was active, I had to make a choice about how to spend my day. Choice A? The tour of the Winchester Mystery House, the 160+ room eccentric home built by a Winchester heir for decades, continually expanded to keep evil spirits away. Choice B? The Blackknight Chess Club chess tournament.
I did not have time to do both. Both particularly appealed to me, but I chose the chess tournament because the yahoo driving directions were easier to write down (I don't carry a printer when I travel).
I picked up some cash at the Bank of America in an Albertson's, noting with longing that whole, cooked turkeys were on sale for ten dollars. I had no need for a whole, cooked turkey but the idea somehow appealed to me.
I stopped at a Persian restaurant called Ya's, and had chicken served on a bed of rice leavened with large raisins, along with a nice lentil/vegetable soup. Then I headed over to the chess tournament, which proved to be in its own little "chess building" at a local high school.
The tournament format was "quad", which means that the players are divided into foursomes, and each player plays in a round robin in each quad. I got paired into a quad with one player rated 2130, and two players rated over 1950. My own rating is 1733 (Class B), so I would have to "play up". This is good for my chess education, but not always so good for my won/loss record. The expert and I played a spirited game, but I ultimately needlessly dropped material and lost the game. Against the first A player, I got greedy, grabbed a pawn prematurely, and then ended up a piece for 2 pawns down.
Then the third player forfeited his game to attend a belated Christmas party. I was disappointed by this, because I "came to play". But the tournament director, a nice guy, agreed to play me in a rated game. He was 8 points shy of being a master, and I did not fare well. But it was fun to play.
I'm eager to get back on a winning note again. My on-line chess is not bad, but needs work. My live chess is pretty predictable. I can beat players rated lower than I am, but I do not yet fare well against experts and A players. I'm not worried, though, because each time I play one I see the finite steps I need to take to improve. I hope that I can put the time in to get better. Even if I don't get better, though, I frankly had a lot of fun.
I got another contact about my 1/24 tournament. I am so hopeful that I can draw a small crowd. I am not yet optimistic, but I am feeling the first glimmers of hope.
I am glad I did what I did, but I wish I had gotten in more hiking and a visit to that mystery house. I'll visit this area again someday, though, if I am permitted to do so.
I do not really like being away from home on the weekend for business. But this weekend was as nice as it could be, given being away from home. Tomorrow morning I attend a court hearing, and then it is back to Texas. I can hardly wait to be home.