Arlington Chess Club

ARCHIVES - Tournament Reviews

Is that tournament worth your time? Maybe something in this section can help you decide.


Virginia Open

(A.R. Chrisney)

The Virginia Open for 2012 was held at the Double Tree Hotel – Dulles Airport which has quickly become a favorite venue for chess tournaments in Northern Virginia. Though, with the imminent retirement from chess directing of NTD Mike Atkins, it is unclear who VCF will have pick up the mantle for running this event and if it will continue to be run at this venue. One plus about being held in this section of the DC metro area is that it draws in more players from the Route 7 corridor who might not attend events held over along 1-95 or downtown DC. The event features players in two sections – Open and Amateur (U1800) – and usually gets well over 100 players total. The hotel rooms are reasonably priced but elegantly furnished (and you get a fresh baked cookie upon check-in!). The hotel used to be a little hard to get to off Route 28 in Virginia but they have added a cut through off the highway (Warp Drive) that is just down from the hotel. The hotel restaurant provides a great breakfast buffet and their lunch offerings are good as well, though limited in variety. There are many eateries in the nearby Dulles Towne Mall and Dulles Eastern Plaza just north of the hotel, from the ubiquitous McDonalds and Chick-Fil-A to Red Robin, Longhorn Steakhouse and the Cheesecake Factory. The tournament organizers added a skittles room this year so there was space to spread out into – without it you essentially had to go to your room or off “campus” to get some personal space. Local book-seller Todd Hammer has added some hardware to his usual wares and provided a great offering of books, DVDs, chess sets and clocks for everyone’s perusal. This is a good 5-round, 3-day event for this area.

Maryland Open

(A.R. Chrisney)

Usually held in the Spring. As with many recent big tournaments sponsored by the Maryland Chess Association, the Maryland Open returned to the spacious Rockville Hilton this year. This site has quickly become one of the go-to facilities for NTD and organizer Mike Regan. The event is noted for many refinements offered by Regan including providing boards and sets for all players and clocks for the top section. In addition, Mike uses a 30-second increment instead of the standard 5-second delay to avoid some of the clock-pounding time scrambles often seen in tournament chess. This author can personally attest to the usefulness of this time control as my second round U2000 opponent and I took full advantage of it in our game. Mike also provides continental breakfast to all players on Sunday morning, "gratis" (meaning “free”) - a nice feature as the first round that day starts at 9am. Another cool feature was that Regan (as noted in Chess Life) actually will TEXT players their pairings if they provide a cell phone number so that you don’t have to scrum for your table and pairing at the beginning of each round! Nice little tournament feature! Though this year, Rockville had some town marathon running down Rockville Pike and it caused severe delays for some tournament commuters as the marathoners ran down the center of Rockville Pike for miles, and miles - only easily circumventable to those who know Rockville well. Regan also added a fourth section this year making it "Open, Under 2000, Under 1600, and Under 1200" as well as increasing the prize fund to a total of $7250. This year, he also broadcasted the top two games live both in the skittles room and at mdchess.com – though I hear the remote broadcast didn’t do as well as the on-site version. Finally, Todd Hammer provided a wonderful selection of books and equipment to peruse in between rounds. For an event that has seen its down times in recent years (when held at local community colleges), this has turned into a great local event! Another "well done" to Mike Regan.

Eastern Open

(A.R. Chrisney)

The Eastern Open is held at the Westin Hotel just off 14th street’s Thomas Circle in Washington, D.C. at the end of every year between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. In recent years, the new organizer (Tom Beckman) has changed and added to the original format so that while there are fewer sections than a few years ago (having dropped the lowest U1300 section), the tournament also features additional special prizes including for the four largest upsets in each round, for the best played game, best “brilliancy” and best opening innovation. Such additional awards give players something to strive for regardless of their ratings or performance. I’m not sure if it’s the recent changes or that since Beckman took over that all four rounds have fallen on week days, but attendance has been down the last few years. It used to draw over 200 entries but it was just 140 two years ago and 170 this year. The entry fee ($100-230, depending on your section) is commensurate with any 7-9 round tournament with decent prizes. Also, the hotel rooms are reasonably priced and the single occupant “King” rooms have plenty of room and nice furnishings including flat-screen TVs. The hotel restaurant is average but the burgers and the breakfast buffet are great, though a little pricey. There are lots of eateries 2-3 blocks south on L and K streets. There is a Starbucks bar (not a full shop) in the lobby. Also, there is a REALLY good food buffet (pay by weight) about a half block west down M Street. To round things out, they almost always have a vendor of chess books, DVDs, and equipment at decent prices (this year it was Rochester Chess). So, why haven’t you played in this event recently?

VA Closed

(A.R. Chrisney)

This is a great tournament - period. Run by an experienced TD with a military background = efficiency! Two sections (Open and U1800) for 6 rounds over 3 days. Plus a Blitz tournament the night before and the Virginia Chess Federation's business meeting the morning of the opening round. The usual vendor went out of business recently so there hasn't been one for the last two years. But Todd Hammer rectified that this year with a great offering of new and used books plus a decent amount of equipment. The hotel facilites are great including a small but comfortable lounge area and a small breakfast buffet with table service in the lobby (not free). Out the back of the lobby and tournament areas is a nice manicured garden area with a nice sized pond - great for hanging out between and after rounds and opens into the small strip mall (eateries) that are next to the hotel. Rooms are good, but not cheap. LOTS of high quality restaurants, chains and eateries in the immediate area. About a two hour drive from the I-395 area.