Founded in 1888, the San Antonio Chess Club is the oldest chess club in the state of Texas. They currently meet at the Lions Field Center on Broadway from 1730-2100 every Thursday (except holidays). They are also the official governing body for US Chess activities and tournaments in the greater San Antonio area.
The club is currently exploring ways to expand chess activities in scholastic and amateur arenas across the city. If you’re interest in joining or would like more information, check out their official website for details.
Last weekend around 60 players from across the San Antonio area gathered at the Wonderland of the Americas Mall to take part in the San Antonio Summer Scrimmage sponsored by the River City Chess Club and the San Antonio Chess Club (SACC). Yours truly decided to jump into the pool and register for the tournament when it was first advertised back in June/July. Although my game results were much less than desirable, the SACC TD, Edgar Munoz along with support from members of both clubs put on an exceptionally well-run tournament.
Approximately 60 players packed into the Wonderland Events Center near the mall’s food court to try their luck at a cash prize and the glory of chess tournament victory. The tournament started an hour late due to the overwhelming response from players! Normally I would be bothered by such a late start, but it was nice to see the TD and team giving so many people an opportunity register and pay at the last minute. Notably, the start delay was the only real hiccup that the event seemed to experience. The tournament went very smooth for most players once play began.
Perhaps one of the most notable events occurred during the end of Round 01. The end of the round came down to the wire with one game remaining between a young girl and one of SACC’s regulars. The ensuing drama found our SACC regular eventually pinned down by some brilliant last-minute exchanges.
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It was a thrilling experience and the only time in the tournament where the room erupted in applause. The above Instagram photo captures that game as it entered into its final 10 minutes. More photos of that game and the tournament itself are available at the bottom of the page just past my game analysis.
I think that I am in the running for setting a new chess record of having the lowest ELO rating out there. Fortunately, the US Chess database reminds me that I am not the lowest, but I am damned close. Part of that comes from playing in a city where most of the regular players are 1500+ ELO. It is good for the learning experience, but not so good for the W-L record. The three games I played in this tournament (got 1 bye in Round 3) were painful, but educational and somewhat surprising. I learned quite a bit throughout the tournament about where I need to shift my study habits in addition to conquering some anxieties I had about playing in OTB tournaments with so many good players.
Round 1: Game #1
Game #1 was against a 1300 ELO player who was very friendly and played a nice game. We laughed a few times because of some arguments happening next to us between two kids playing their game, but overall the game was enjoyable. This game was not as good or educational as the other two, but it did remind me to stick to my opening preparation instead of trying to play so much off-the-cuff in games.
Round 2: Game #2
As you will see in the game commentary, this game made me very nervous. It was against a 1900 ELO player which was enough to challenge my psychological ability to sit at the board. In the end, this game turned out to be one of the best games I have played in a long time, even with a loss. I think that I also got Stockfish to give me my first ever (!) annotation on a move I agreed with.
Round 4: Game #3
Game 3 came in Round 4 after quite a break through Round 3. My opponent was rated around 1100 ELO and slammed pieces down harder than anyone I believe I have ever met. Another loss, but it was very educational and fun to play. In the end, my impatience got the best of me an earned me my first-ever loss by checkmate.
Here are some more photos of the event and the venue:
The San Antonio Chess Club is in the midst of a revival. Its President, Mitch Vergara, is one hell of a chess player and his passion for the game is reflected in the ways he has networked with River City Chess, Rackspace, and others to promote the game throughout the Alamo City. The 2017 Summer Scrimmage was a fun event for all ages that really brought the best minds of San Antonio together to play the Royal Game. It is my hope that this is just a taste of things to come from River City and San Antonio Chess.
I am always on the lookout for new and interesting chess shops, stories, and personalities throughout the day and I came across a really cool place south of downtown San Antonio that definitely raised my curiosity. Trader’s Village is a massive flea market and entertainment venue located on Interstate 410 just south of JBSA-Lackland in San Antonio. Aside from rides, food, games, and countless shopping opportunities, I found a neat little space where chess is king!
Nate is the proprietor of AllPerfectGifts4U located in booth #1049 and much of his wares are chess sets and boards of varying styles. I was impressed to find a unique US Air Force themed set for a respectable $49, but the set I wanted had already been sold via the online store. I guess I might have wandered to the wrong shelf looking for goodies.
In addition to selling and promoting chess, Nate also organizes a monthly chess tournament in the Trader’s Village central plaza. There is a big sign on one of the overhangs (see this post’s featured image), which advertises the monthly tournaments and can help lost chess enthusiasts find their way.
According to Nate, the tournament games are 15 | 10 time controlled with modest participation and several regular players including one or two personalities that definitely seem to add a unique flavor to this hidden chess gem. The winner of each monthly tournament receives a professional tournament chess set to add to their collection!
I have reached out to Nate for some clarifications and will update this article as I receive additional information. If you are interested in signing up for one of these tournaments, visit the tournament’s official website.
Each year the cities of Austin and San Antonio send their best and brightest chess players to compete in an annual shootout to determine which city is the best of South Texas. As with everything else in Texas, this shootout is quite a big deal. Preparations begin early each year and culminate with the penultimate event in August. This year, San Antonio lost to Austin 26-24 points, which means that San Antonio only lost by a one-game outcome!
After the first round, San Antonio faced an incredible 7.5-17.5 point standing with three draws and two losses on the top five boards. However, the lopsided round results were not enough to keep the San Antonio team from bowing out early. The Alamo City came roaring back in the second round to bring itself within 2 points of its northern neighbor, but it was not enough to overcome the earlier deficit and bring the victory home.
Maybe next year…
Some noteworthy moments:
Jose Silva (SA) went 2-0 through the match.
The highest rated player was IM Miguel Paz (2465).
Chess players from around the San Antonio area converged on Methodist Hospital this past weekend to see who would earn the distinction of San Antonio City Chess Champion. Approximately 82 players registered for the 5-round event which saw participation from players in the 900 ELO to 2263 ELO range! NM Jesse James Lozano quickly emerged as the man to beat as he sought to defend his championship title and earn the distinction of being the 3-time city champion.
Entering into the 4th round of the event on Sunday Lozano led the tournament with a score of 3-0, although Alexander Wlezien, who commanded a 2206 ELO prior to the event remained neck-in-neck with him. The final standings had both Lozano and Wlezien earning no losses across all five rounds. In the end, Jesse James claimed his third title and walked away with an impressive 2267 ELO. Congratulations to Jesse on his win!
The annual city championship is a small sample of the larger San Antonio chess community that thrives throughout the year. The San Antonio Chess Club meets every Thursday night at the Lions Field Center on Broadway St for blitz and a subset of the club meets each Wednesday at Methodist Hospital for a monthly rapid tournament (G 90|5). Many of these events include highly skilled club players in the 1600+ ELO range, but Jesse Lozano offers opportunities for kids and lower rated players in scholastic play throughout the region on his website, www.sascholastic.com.
This Saturday and Sunday, chess players from across South Texas will converge on Methodist Hospital’s John Hornbeak Building to compete in the San Antonio Chess Championship! Over 50 players are currently registered for the event, which will feature the city’s best taking on…the city’s best! Yours truly originally had plans to attend the event to cover it here on Campfire Chess, but the same commitments that have emaciated posts on this site for July will likely keep me from attending. I am going to make an attempt to stop by to grab some photos and check on the standings, but unfortunately will not be able to cover in-depth like I wanted. In any case, if you are in the San Antonio area this weekend, hold a valid US Chess membership ID and want to compete for a chance at a variety of prizes, stop by!
Location: Methodist Hospital John Hornbeak Building
4450 Medical Dr.
San Antonio, TX 78259
Time controls: Rds. 1 and 2 G/90|5, Rds. 3-5 G/120|5
Prizes: $1525 for full entry and 1/2 option prizes
$500 1st, $300 2nd, U2100 $125, U2000 $125,
U1800 $125, U1600 $125, U1400 $125, U1200/Unr. $100.
Trophy to top Bexar County Resident.
Entry Fees: $60 at site
$5 discount to Club members paying full entry
Registration: 8:30-9:30 am
Rounds: Saturday 10am, 2 pm, and 6pm; Sunday 9am - 2pm
Half point bye any 1 round. Notice must be made before Round 2 is paired.
Entries: San Antonio Chess Club
PO BOX 690576
San Antonio, TX 78269-0576
Contact info: sanantoniochess.com
Pay online using PayPal. Click on "Send", then enter our club's email address
(email@example.com) and your appropriate entry fee in "Amount".
Then click Continue followed by choosing "Friends or Family" (to bypass PayPal fees).
Please include a note with participant's name and USCF ID, rating, and mailing
address should we have to mail you a prize.
Although you’ll be hard-pressed to find many pastors (or people) out there who would admit that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is their favorite film of all time, I am not your typical pastor nor do I like to think of myself as your typical person. When it comes to chess, there is much evidence to support the position that I might be the world’s worst chess player. I have become accustomed to losing just in some of the most interesting and depressing ways over the past few years and I thought I have learned to deal with the trauma that can arise from such an experience, but last Wednesday’s tournament OTB game reminded me of how devastating it can be to make a mistake in a game where I put so much time, effort, energy, and focus. In essence, Wednesday night was an opportunity for me to experience my own Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
As many of you know, I have been playing in my first series of OTB tournaments a few months back, but had to take a break to finish some school and other personal projects. These projects also contributed to the lack of posts here on Campfire Chess, but I digress. Playing in the July edition of this tournament was a last-minute decision, so there was a little bit of hesitation on my part for returning. However, I know that the best way to improve is to continue to play. Unfortunately, my return to OTB play was the stuff of nightmares. Rarely do I go into these situations expecting a win because very few of the players involved in these tournaments are rated anywhere near where I perform. Most of them are the master level or higher including a resident International Master and occasional visits from Grandmasters, which I have written about in the past. However, I can say that I never expected what happened this past Wednesday night. To say that it was traumatic betrays the depth of the experience.
I lost a game in eight moves although I played through to 12 moves for a combined total board time of around 14 minutes. Looking back on things, I realized that it was a simple mistake that ended the game so quickly whether it was rushing or simply not surveying the more properly. It has taken me a few days to get over it, but I have written some commentary on this atrocious game and decided to share it with my Campfire Chess audience. Now, for your viewing pleasure I present to you around one of MHCC July 2016.
Unfortunately, my desire to try again this week has been postponed because of a sick child. As always, family comes first. Therefore, I will have to wait until next week for an opportunity to redeem myself with a reasonable loss.
For chess players and fans across South Texas, San Antonio is the place to be this weekend and throughout the next few weeks. Aw, who am I kidding? San Antonio is the place to be, period. This weekend, Trinity University and the Jesse James Chess Academy is hosting a tournament at their main campus in downtown. You can read more about that tournament here on Campfire Chess or visit the official website to register. Yours truly is registered and will be playing in the rated section.
Rackspace, the cloud company that converted the abandoned Westgate Mall into their technological metropolis, is hosting its annual Rackspace Chess Scholastic Tournament on April 30 (tomorrow) beginning at 0730 CST. There is no entry fee and the tournament is open for K-1 through High School Seniors. Visit the Rackspace website to see more about the tournament. Note that all participants must have a parent with them.
As if that was not enough, the 2016 San Antonio Chess Club Championship begins this coming Thursday, May 5 at 7pm. The tournament is played at the Lions Field Center, which is the same location that my church, Mission Vineyard Church, meets on Sunday mornings at 10am (hint hint). Entry is free, but is closed to members of the SA Chess Club. Club officers will be on hand at Lions Field before the tournament to start a new membership or renew an existing membership. First place is a championship trophy and free entry into the upcoming San Antonio City Championship. Time controls are G75+5, but are subject to change based on availability of the Lions Field Center for late night play. Visit the club on Facebook and RSVP if you would like to participate.
Finally, the San Antonio City Chess Championship is also fast approaching and will be held from July 30-31. Exact times, location, and other details are forthcoming. I will post more details on that tournament when I know they have been solidified. I am also examining the possibility of conducting some live commentary for that tournament. At the very least, I intend to offer a daily tournament report, photos, and possibly some interviews. More to come.
In the meantime, enjoy the amazing amount of chess on the horizon in the Alamo City!
Another week, another loss. There is no other way to say it: the month of April itself is a loss for me. After watching my online ELO plummet 200 points I have consistently put zeros on the board for every game I have played OTB in the past 30 days. It is easy to get frustrated and want to give up, but these are the kind of times when the true test of resilience presents itself. As Rocky likes to say, it ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep going. And now, full analysis of my game from Wednesday’s tournament at Methodist Hospital. Enjoy!