Now that I am back in Prague and I have had some time to reflect on the tournament, I would like to offer some final thoughts and some stats that I think are worth reviewing.
My USCF rating is 1738 – I was shocked to discover it had dropped that much — which converts to 1629 FIDE.
My fide performance rating based on this tournament is 1846, which converts to 1874 USCF. This is a full 136 points higher than my current USCF rating, and over 200 points higher than the FIDE equivalent of my current USCF rating.
The average FIDE rating of my opponents was 1926, which converts to 1924 USCF.
The rating of the lowest-rated opponent I faced was 1850 –, which equals 1876 USCF.
I had black in five rounds and white in four.
I finished with 3.5/9. This is not a great score by any measure, but I hope the above statistics give readers a sense of the strength of the competition I faced.
Players from 31 countries competed in the event, coming from as far away as Bolivia, Puerto Rico, India and Egypt.
My greatest disappointment is knowing that there may not be another opportunity for me or other USBCA players to compete in this or other IBCA events unless more members take an active interest in over-the-board competition.
Just over 10 days ago, I walked off the bus and into the Mediterranean Village Hotel as the first U.S. representative at the IBCA World Championship in quite some time. My goals were modest. Despite not meeting the goal of scoring 4.5 points, I am proud and honored to have represented the USBCA at the event. I was a good sport, and I gave the best I could each day. No doubt that on some days I played better than on others. I was ranked 81 on the initial wall chart. In the final standings, I finished 73rd out of 94 players. Only one of the 13 other unrated players finished ahead of me in the final standings. Could I have achieved a better result? Perhaps I should have, but I did not make the decisive moves at the right time.
Competing in the event was a tremendously fulfilling and personally enriching experience, and I hope the USBCA builds on this effort by participating in other IBCA tournaments, such as upcoming Pan-American competitions, or by sending a team to the next Olympiad, which has been pushed back to 2017.
But you do not have to travel around the world to compete in over-the-board tournaments. Wherever you live, whether in New Mexico, Wyoming or Alabama, your state has a chess federation that organizes all sorts of tournaments, and there is surely a local club nearby. You can find out about clubs in your area and the activities of your state’s USCF affiliate by going to http://uschess.org. You can play casual over-the-board chess at your local club even if you are not a USCF member. Such clubs usually charge a nominal membership fee to join – sometimes as low as $10 per year. You do have to join the USCF to play in rated tournaments, but it is not as expensive as you might think. USCF dues for blind players are $18 a year, or a one-time payment of $375 for a USCF life-time membership. If you have questions about this, you can contact the USCF directly, write to me, or post a message to the USBCA list. No other form of chess matches the excitement and the thrill of playing over-the-board competition and meeting your opponent face-to-face. So give it a try! Also, if you are a USBCA member, and you have an opinion on the issue of whether or not the USBCA should continue to send representatives to IBCA over-the-board tournaments, make your voice heard. I come down firmly in the yes camp on this question. You can read the first post on my blog if you want to know more about the effort it took to get me to this tournament. That will help you assess whether you are ready to make the commitment to pull it off.