Earlier this week I received the following email:
Have you seen the tournament announcement for the Tennessee Senior? It's not your ideal format, but it's a lot closer to it than most Senior's. First, it's one section. Second, even though it uses the typical 5 rounds, if you play the 3 day schedule you get fairly decent rest. Round 1 is at 4:00 Friday, On Sat the rounds are at 10 and 4. With a G/2 time control you get close to two hours between rounds even if your game goes the limit. I don't care much for the 9-2 schedule on Sunday with only 1 hr between rounds, but at least you didn't have to stay up until midnight the night before.
What's odd is that if you play the two day schedule you play at 10-1-4 on Saturday, which means the first two rounds are both separate from the 3 day schedule. I've never seen that. If there is much of a difference in strength between the two "sections", results could be a bit distorted.
Overall, it's relatively playable and right now the weekend looks convenient, so there is a fairly decent chance I'll play.
I sent this to Harry Sabine, the organizer of the tournament, via email, and added, "I, too, have never seen it, Harry. Seems kinda strange to me."
To which I received this reply: Mike
The first 2 rounds are G/60 if you play the 2-day schedule. The 3-day schedule has all rounds at G/120.
I then sent this reply to Harry:
I checked and the tournament announcement on the USCF website does not say anything about the first 2 rounds being truncated, Harry: http://main.uschess.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=199
I don't like it, Harry. I don't understand why you don't just have a four round tournament. I mean, that way most players will have equal colors, at least theoretically. With five rounds, it's for damn sure the colors with not be equal! The PGA Seniors only play 3 rounds; not 4 like the younger players. G/60 compared to G/120 is only half a game! Yet it counts just as much as the longer game! This split thing may work with a large turnout, but not with the numbers you've drawn the past two years. And, as has been pointed out, you will have problems with the two separate sections.
I recall Capt Kirk saying, in my favorite Star Trek movie, The Wrath of Khan, that he felt, "Old and worn out." Then, after doing battle with Khan, he said something like he now felt younger and ready for action. I've been looking forward to playing in your event, especially since the US Senior is a bad joke. I need to battle, 'cause I've been feeling old & worn-out since turning 60. But I don't like this format one bit, Harry. To tell you the truth, it's screwy! Hell man, for some players 40% of the games will only be one hour games! Why the hell not make the whole damn tournament quick chess?
I've heard nothing further from Harry Sabine...
I played in the first Tn Senior Harry held two years ago, which I wrote about on the BaconLOG, June 1, 2009. (http://baconlog.blogspot.com/2009_06_01_archive.html)
Personal issues precluded me from attending last year. I was, therefore, looking forward to playing this year. It would give me a reason to join USCF once again, for the fact of the matter is that the only reason to belong to the organization is to be able to participate in OTB tournaments.
Having played at the site previously, I can forsee a major problem on Saturday. The players in the two day schedule, playing truncated games, will play their first game at the same time those playing the three day schedule play their second game, ten am Sat morning. But, since it is only a 60 minute game, sometime between 11:30 & noon, the time scramble will ensue. It can only be disruptive for those playing a G/2. Something similar occured at the Continental Open in Sturbridge, Ma in 2002. It, too, was held in one room. While the main tournament was taking place, players were coming in for the faster time limit games. They were also using the official chess clock 'approved' by the USCF at that time, a cheap, plastic thing, with round black knobs that made a very loud "THWACK!" sound each time a player hit the damn thing. With so many games, it sounded like rapid machine gun fire! Grandmasters were getting in Bill Goichberg's face, complaining about the cacophony of noise!
If that's not bad enough, the quick players will come back into the playing hall at one pm to begin their second games, once again causing a disruption to the three day players. This does not appeal to me, for some reason...
I cannot understand why Harry would do such a thing. I realize the turnout was down last year, and he could think this may be a way to improve on the number of players. If that is the case, he is, unfortunately, mistaken. Last yeat a Senior tournament was held in Ohio. It was what could be called the 'traditional' type of 5 round swiss, with three games on Sat & two Sunday. Only a bakers dozen turned. That's right, only 13 came to play! I did not even consider it, even though it is in close enough range for me to have played. Hundreds of others must have felt the same way. If anything, having a tournament with three games aone day for Seniors will depress the turnout! What the hell was Harry thinking?
Sometine last year, IM John Donaldson sent me an email in which he wrote that I needed to save up my money in order to play in the World Senior. I found it very sad, indeed, that someone like John would write something like that because he is as aware as am I that the USCF will never put on a decent event in a nice location for Seniors, at least not in my lifetime. I flashed on an article in the NY Times magazine I had recently read about an American, Lori Berenson, incarcerated in Peru. "Berenson joined other prisoners to protest these conditions with hunger strikes, but now she underplayed the hardships and spoke warmly of the community: singing together; calling out chess moves in virtual games; the euphoria of someone’s being released." (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/magazine/06berenson-t.html?_r=1&ref=magazine)Calling out chess moves to my fellow inmates does not appeal to me, for some reason. I think I better stay right here in the land of the free, and home of the Braves, because the season is about to begin!
If some players are going to play with a time limit of half that of the other players, like what will happen in Tennessee this year, then they should only receive half the score as the 'real' players! For example, the two day players would only receive 1/2 point for a win, and only 1/4 pt for a draw! Hey, if I play a G/2 and they play a G/1, why should they receive the same point(s) as me? I'm willing to wager that would put an end to tournaments that combine quick chess with 'classical' chess!