The top nine boards are always on the far right side of the cavernous ballroom, roped off from the riff-raff. This year there are about a dozen teams painstakingly engineered to an average rating of 2195+ (2199 being the max), so there are some pretty heavy hitters sitting behind the ropes, and it’s been one of Simple Minds’ few ambitions to spend a round there.
Which we did in round two, squaring off against Michael Khodarkovsky’s Tycoons, a squad of yutes. (That’s youths pronounced funny.) I celebrated the occasion by getting gracefully and completely outplayed by a 2100 named Jayson Lian. Not sure of the team result yet. Disappointment aside, the grass really is greener over there – tons more elbow room and less crowding. I took the opportunity to walk up and down and stare at the GM games from time to time.
It’s difficult to provide an early-round update of the overall standings; the wall charts will be posted this morning for the first time. I can say that the aformentioned 3 GM team is a reality; we missed being paired against them by one board number. The defending champs Beavis and Buttvinik are in action again, as are their great predecessors, a slightly remodeled Charles Riordan effort. Larry Christiansen’s team is also the same as last year.
In contrast to the mercenary efforts of the 3 GM team, one of the tournament’s endless delights is seeing GMs and IMs spearheading teams made of up their own kids or students – a 2500 first board toiling on board 98, destroying his class B opponent while his 900-rated teammates struggle and lose.
Less delightful: One participant started the competition early, provoking a fight in the hotel bar on Friday night and getting a beer bottle over the head and a few stitches for his efforts. (Did I mention that some people think chess is boring?)