The Opryland Hotel, a grand location for the Senior Open
The 2006 Senior Open Championship kicked off on August 27th. After four rounds only one chess veteran, FM Joe Bradford, has a perfect score. This national event is the second of three tournaments taking place at the beautiful and enormous Gaylord Opryland Hotel during perhaps the busiest chess week ever in Nashville, Tennessee.
All this chess activity is definitely a result of the USCF's recent move to Crossville, TN, only a two hour drive from Music City.
The Senior Open is played at a leisurely one game a day pace with a standard six-hour time control. The veterans come from 20 states and one hails from as far as Trinidad and Tobago. One of these experienced players will walk away with a coveted entry into next year's US Championship. Lack of advertising of the championship spot and the surprisingly young age (50) that allows entrance into the Senior Open has led to a low turnout of 43 players, fewer than expected.
Directed smoothly by International Arbiter Carol Jarecki, the only complaints I heard were from players getting lost inside the hotel! The Opryland Hotel is the biggest non-casino hotel in the country with many wings to it. However, being lost in a River Delta with a cool breeze and the faint sound of water flowing and live music can be quite pleasing. It certainly has not created any distress for FM Joe Bradford of Austin, Texas. Joe is the only player with a perfect score after the first four rounds, a half point up on Denis Strenzwilk.
Joe has a humble attitude, emphasizing that he hasn't won the tournament yet: "There are still two games to go." Joe became less active in the past 5-6 years, because of work related issues, but now that he has retired he is ready to play more chess. This is his first event in the Volunteer State and from the beginning everyone (well, except for the other players hoping to win) has pegged him as the eventual winner since he came into this event rated 2518, nearly 300 points higher than the next seed.
Here is a nice victory from the leader over IM Walter Shipman (2211):
Black played some active, centralizing moves while white had to contend with both knights on the edge of the board and some awkward reshuffling of the pieces on his kingside. The cooperation between the black pieces simply makes White's defensive task too difficult. 26...Qe5! is a particularly nice move that helps bring the full point home.
Stay tuned for the rest of the results from this event and a report on the inaugural U.S. Chess League match of the Tennessee Tempo and the Tennessee State Championship.
Senior Open Standings after 4 rounds:
4.0- FM Joseph Bradford
3.5- Denis Strenzwilk
3.0- Daud Haryanto, FM Lester Van Meter, IM Walter Shipman, David G. Rupel, Sven-Peter Mannsfeld and Ilya Solonkovich.
Click here for Round 5 pairings