2nd Annual ChessHelps Chess Tournament Sunday, Aug 30 2015 

2nd Place Trophy

2nd Place Trophy

On Saturday, I won the 2nd place trophy in the Under 2000 section of the 2nd Annual ChessHelps chess tournament. I had two wins and two draws. One of the draws was with the winner of the section, Manu Reddy, who had three wins and only one draw. The other draw was against Zak Cancio who won the third place trophy. There were 23 players in this section.

The tournament was divided into five sections based on chess rating. Jim Briggs, Chino Valley, played in the Open section of 24 players and finished with two draws and two losses. The Open section attracted six titled chess players. About 140 chess players from around the state of Arizona competed in this tournament.

ChessHelps is an organization dedicated to help raise funds for the BASIS Chandler school and KIVA, a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Prateek Pinisetti, a sophomore at BASIS Chandler, with support from his family, was responsible for developing this chess tournament.

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Winnebago Via: A Travel Adventure Sunday, Aug 23 2015 

Winnebago Via

Winnebago Via

On Friday we took delivery of a 2015 Winnebago Via 25T. Our intention in purchasing this new recreational vehicle is to explore North America with the conveniences of a home on wheels. After comparing gas and diesel engines, we decided that the Mercedes-Benz diesel engine offered advantages such as better mileage, less maintenance, and a potential long life. The fact that diesel fuel is presently less costly than regular gas is a plus, too. The Mercedes-Benz Splinter chassis as configured by Winnebago offers a small footprint with luxurious amenities. Our Via, only 25.5 feet in length with one slideout, meets our basic needs while relatively easy to drive. In addition to an expansive rear camera it has side cameras that are activated with each turn signal. It has the Rand McNally navigation system that offers help in finding rv friendly routes. The huge front window offers amazing views. The sophisticated sound system includes Am/FM/Sirius radio, CD and DVD capabilities, and two satellite ready TVs (one 26 inches, the other 22 inches). The two-burner gas stove, convection microwave, and refrigerator should allow us to prepare our own meals while traveling. The washroom on our T floor plan has a larger shower than the Q model. In order to enjoy this form of travel, one must learn how to navigate the electrical grid, the LP generator, and an inverter. We have received helpful support from Affinity RV at every step of our decision process. A technician, for example, gave us a thorough 3 hour plus walk through of how our rig works. I have started reviewing the pile of manuals for further understanding of the many features. Undoubtedly, there will be challenges in the days ahead, especially for this non-mechanical oriented owner. Nevertheless, we are excited about two upcoming outings, one to an rv park that offers electricity and water, another to a National Forest campground where we will experiment with dry camping techniques. The Winnebago Via offers us an opportunity to expand our travel adventures with a home on wheels. Stay tuned for updates.

2015 U. S. Open Tuesday, Aug 11 2015 

MacArthur Ballroom

MacArthur Ballroom

The 116th Annual U. S. Open chess tournament brought together 491 chess players from 43 states for the 9-round event held August 1-9 at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. I played in the traditional 9-day schedule with one game each day using a time control of 40 moves in two hours followed by sudden death in one hour. Thus, chess games in the traditional schedule could last six hours. Six-day and four-day optional schedules were also possible. All three schedules merged Friday night at 7 p.m. using the traditional time control.

This was my third opportunity to play in the U. S. Open. Although I lost my last round game to a 12-year-old Candidate Master, I met my goal for the event with an even 4.5-4.5 score. My opponents came from the following states: Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Eleven Grandmasters played in the U. S. Open. Grandmaster Alexander Shabalov, Pennsylvania, won the tournament with an impressive eight wins and one draw, a full point ahead of those who tied for 2nd place. He won $7,576 and the right to play in the next U. S. Closed, an invitational event limited to only 12 players.

In addition to the U. S. Open a number of other chess tournaments took place during the week. Some of the other chess tournaments that took place during the week included a high school event for each state’s top player, an invitational event for girls and another for invited elementary school students. There were quad events most days as well as a national blitz, game in 15, and bughouse tournament.