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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Minnesota Open

I always look forward to mid-February, because that’s when the Minnesota Open is. This year it’s February 16-18 at the Radisson Hotel Conference Center, 3131 Campus Drive, in Plymouth. It’s right nearby where I work, so I’ve been hyping all my coworkers to stop by for 10 minutes and watch me play, although nobody is allowed to talk during the games.

I’ll be playing in the Reserve section, the third out of the five sections. Before each round, they post the pairings, which are sorted alphabetically by last name and show the table number. After each round, they post the standings, which are cumulative. Players get one point for a win, and half a point for a draw. I haven’t been playing seriously in recent years. I am not expected to win any games.

If you walk up to a board, you may not be able to tell who is winning. But there are a few clues you can look for. One is how many pieces have been captured, but some pieces are worth more than others: Pawn=1, Knight=3, Bishop=3, Rook=5, Queen=9. Another thing you can look at is the clocks. Players in our section each have 2 hours to complete all their moves. When you hit your button, your clock stops and the other player’s clock starts. If you run out of time, you lose, no matter how well you’re doing on the board. Another clue as to who is winning is the Kings. If they are out in the open or under attack, they could be trapped and the game is over. Another thing is if a pawn makes it to the other side of the board, it can become a Queen. Of course, spectators can’t talk about the games in the main tournament room, but they can leave the room, discuss a game, and then go back in.

I’m so stoked!


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