Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Eastern Open

A commenter to yesterday's posts asked when I will discuss my recent chess exploits. And since I don't really need much encouragement to talk about chess, here goes:

The tournament was called The Eastern Open and the final results are available here. As you can see I finished with 3.5 points out of 8 (Two wins, Three draws, Three losses), which was good enough for a share of 36-46 place. There were 70 players in my section.

Actually, I was very happy with that result. Large tournaments like this are divided into sections so that you only play against people of roughly the same strength as you. Sitting at the top of the heap is the Open section. As the name suggests, anyone who wants to can play in that section, but as a practical matter it is the place where all the grandmasters and their ilk play.

For scheduling reasons that I won't try to explain, I, with my putzy little rating of 1901, had to play in the Open section. The winner of the tournament was grandmaster Alexander Ivanov. His rating is 2640. Get the idea? (If you're not familiar with the rating system, basically, everyone's rating is a four-digit number. The number by itself means nothing. It is only in comparison to someone else's rating that it has any significance. After each tournament game your rating changes according to a pre-set formula that depends on the result and the difference in ratings between the two players. The higher the number, the stronger the player.)

Since I was one of the lowest-rated players in the section, I was rather pleased to be able to hold my own against some very strong players. I managed to play three staright draws against players rated over 2100. I was particularly pleased with my fifth round draw against FM Boris Reichstein (FM being an abbreviation for “Really freakin' good.” It also stands for “FIDE Master.” That's pronounced FEE-day, and is itself an abbreviation for Federation Internationale Des Echecs.) That's my best result to date against someone with that title.

My rating gives me the title of “Class A Player.” Below me reside the class B, C, D and E players. Above me are the Experts, FIDE Masters, International Masters and Grandmasters. That means that on the one hand I'm a pretty good player, but on the other, I still have a lot to learn.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable tournament.