Thursday, January 15, 2009

Re-Entry Ugliness

On the BCC web blog, I came across this philosophical posting about "Re-entries" in chess tournaments. I found the article quite interesting and thought back to my one time personal experience of requesting a re-entry in September 2008 at the Continental Open in Sturbridge Massachusetts.

As Mike Griffin puts it, a re-entry in chess is just plain poor sportsmanship and I tend to agree. Reflecting back on my own personal experience, I can't help but recall the "ugliness" I felt when putting in for a re-entry during the Continental Open.

Here is how it went down:

I enrolled in the 3 day event only to lose the first two rounds to opponents whom I felt were not as strong a player as I. That was my first mistake; assuming relative player strengths. Ratings account for very little during tournament play, after all, it is not a rating that determines the "chess in you" but what you do on the board that defines your chess ability.

So, after losing the first two rounds I started to kick around the idea of re-entering. I thought to myself, "I'll do it over and play better. Besides, I'll get to play more chess and of course, I'll have another legitimate opportunity to play for the money!"

Then my sub conscience kicked in, "That's it isn't it? It's really about the money huh?"

"No! It's not about the money!" I refuted the idea, but somehow it continued to gnaw at me and I felt ugly for it.

The next day, I went down to the tournament booth and dished out 68 dollars for a re-entry. Now I just felt cheap, and in some way, not only was I cheating the sport of chess but cheating myself as well. I just engaged in an act that I had always frowned upon; and less of a chess player for doing so. How pathetic, if you really think about this. But, because the venue was available, I decided to dance with the devil.

And to add salt to the wound, I really didn't play much better. After the re-entry, things just didn't seem right in the world of chess for me during this particular tournament. I went on to finish the tournament with 2 1/2 points in a 5 round Swiss and didn't even stay to play the final round!!

I went home that late afternoon feeling ugly, cheap and out an additional 68 dollars. But I did make the promise to myself that I would never again partake in a re-entry; that I would keep my honor where it has always been when it comes to competitive chess. To enter the game in good gentlemanly spirits and to leave the board at its conclusion in good sportsmanship fashion -- win or lose.