Where to Play
Daily Chess Puzzle
(February 13-15, Boise, ID)
By Garrett Reynolds
You don't need to be an ornithologist to understand that the circling birds over American chess are vultures and not bluebirds. All across the country, over-the-board chess attendance in non-scholastic tournaments has been down. This is the direct result of a terrible error of strategy (how ironic); the USCF has since learned what we all now know is true: online chess rules the Earth, and the chess-playing children - though voluminous - do not translate to a sustainable adult membership. As a result, serious and slow, coffee-swilling, hair-twirling, leg-bouncing, red-faced, heavy-sighing chess has fallen by the wayside in favor of a new cultural paradigm, one more suited to the newer generation which views chess as a discardable past-time and an ever growing presence that views chess as a purely commercial and/or educational enterprise. But those who played in the 2010 Idaho Closed - as in championships past - know this viewpoint of tournament chess is trivial and base: losing a game when one has spent several hours of playing time, plus hours upon hours of preparation, is like getting fired from a job; winning is the elation of a promotion (to queen, of course). A welcome respite from the ongoing emaciation of OTB chess, the Idaho Closed is a reminder to the serious tournament player that playing well at chess is a prize worth suffering for.
When the dust had settled (and the wailing, gnashing of teeth, and renting of boards were over), three stood at the top of the mountain: Phil Weyland, Larry Parsons, and Jason Evers. Larry set the early pace of the tournament, blazing to a 4.0/4.0 start, positionally dismantling Weyland in round 4. However, Jason Evers lurked behind at 3.5/4.0, and no slouch - a former Idaho champion himself. With the swashbuckling, take-no-prisoners, lawless style that Evers is now famous for, Parsons-Evers began with the Grob Reversed, an opening on the black side Evers had never played before. With spectators reaching for their heart medications, the resulting melee led to a wild middle-game, hanging flags, and ultimately peace - but not without the first blood drawn from Parsons. This allowed several players back in the hunt, including defending champion Garrett Reynolds who, with a victory over Parsons in the last round, would tie for first at 5.0/6.0.
Reynolds-Parsons - now a tradition at the Idaho Closed, much like the attendance of the Gentleman of Chess, Glen Buckendorf, Jr, was thus underway and Parsons offered a draw at move 8. Though the annual short draw of Reynolds and Parsons is a treasured annual affair, it had to be postponed in light of the standings. After ten more moves, the position was as bland as cafeteria tomato soup, and the point was split. Larry Parsons now had at least a share of his astounding 16th title.
Consecutive draws by Parsons left Weyland an opportunity for redemption, which he seized mercilessly to the dismay of Caleb Kircher (of whom more will be said). Weyland thus had a coveted first championship. Also in the running for first, Evers - who apparently could not satisfy his thirst for adrenaline by playing an expert on the black side of the Grob - made the prudent decision to eliminate all of his pawns for an attack on the kingside with the title on the line. In the end, the complications caused Kurt Douglas's position to crumble like Wall Street, and Evers continued his domination of the Idaho Closed - two championships out of two played!
Though not state champions, the accomplishments of several players must be mentioned: Caleb Kircher had a chance to share first by defeating Weyland, a right he earned by drawing both Evers and Reynolds in fantastic games. The loss to Weyland was his only blemish. Katie Abderhalden also only lost to Weyland, while drawing Reynolds and defeating 10-time state champion Glen Buckendorf, Jr. Jamie Lang had a tremendous tournament, playing much higher than his 1219 rating and scoring this year's highest upset, a victory over 1803-rated Stephen Oberle. Tom Booth raced out to a 3.0/3.0 lead and nearly derailed Evers in a hard-fought knight and pawn ending; he was certainly in the early running for first. Kevin Patterson also had a wonderful tournament, scoring 2.5/6.0 against much higher-rated competition (and a draw against Buckendorf) to increase his rating from 1184 to 1302. Likewise, Carmen Pemsler also scored 2.5/6.0, showing promising talent in raising her rating from 860 to 987.
Thank you to our host, Boise State University for providing the site, parking, and amenities. The room was wonderful and everyone got plenty of exercise coming up the stairs to the Lookout Room. Thank you to Jay Simonson, Jeff Roland, and Barry Eacker for another outstanding tournament.
Congratulations to all winners and participants. Without you, chess in Idaho would not be. Thank you for making the Idaho Closed not only Idaho's most important tournament, but it's most memorable.