Sunday, January 22, 2012

Californiacation Part 1: Northern California International/San Francisco

Last June I went to California for the 1st time when I taught at a chess camp in Pasadena, near LA. I spent the second half of this past winter break going to Cali a 2nd time, but this time, things were different: I was in Northern California, staying in Union city and playing in both the Northern California International and Golden State Open.

My journey there was an adventure by itself. Note to self: Redeye flights are madness ( I knew that already) .... However, redeyes are even more crazy when they are on New Years Day. Of course I wanted to go out in New York for your New Years Eve, however time was limited. Therefore, I left my suitcase at the Marshall Chess Club, where 40 or so maniacs were duking it out in the Insanity for a few hours when I went out to a few bars before heading on a Supper Shuttle from the Marshall at 4:30 AM. Of course I hadn't slept all night and I had to deal with a young kid sitting next to me on the flight, whose mom wouldn't quite him down... Such is life. Anyways, I did end up getting a few hours of sleep and was able to sleep a lot the next night before starting the tournament on the 2nd.

Kudos go to the organizers Arun Sharma and Ted Castro, who made the event professional and exciting.  All rounds started on time and players: the GMs and lower rated players alike had great accommodations  including food and drinks at every round, sometimes even complete meals, access to rides, and advice about the Bay area. As a sub-2200 fide player, I had to pay somewhat hefty entry fee for the event but it was certainly worth it due to the great conditions and high-level competition. Here are two of my games from the event: one one of my tough losses against IM Piasetski, whom I actually met during my spring break while playing tournaments in San Sebastian, Spain and Lille France, and my win against the talented youngster NM Daniel Gurevich.

In other chess news, any chess traveler's visit to SF is not complete without a visit to the Mechanics Institute, which hosts the world's *2nd* largest chess library. (Thanks to John Hartmann and Brian Karen from the Nassau Chess Club Facebook page, I stand corrected. The largest is the Cleveland Chess Club).  To the contrary, east coasters should not run to the Market Street outdoor chess scene, which does not compare to the likes of Washington Square Park in NY, Harvard Square near Boston, or Dupont Circle in DC. When I visited, there were only two games going on... Maybe I went the wrong day but the spot didn't seem great.

That's all the chess for now: my next blog post will likely be about my not so great appearance at the Golden State Open. For now, I shall share with you a few of the pics I took around San Francisco and elsewhere:

Okay, not really my picture, I admit it. However, I wanted to share with you Ohsa, a Thai restaurant in Embarcardero, SF, where I had one of the better meals of my trip.

A not so Kosher restaurant in the SF Ferry Building Marketplace
Alcatraz in the distance from the Fisherman's Wharf

Ghirardelli Square
The Bush Monster: This homeless man supposably makes $50,000+ a year hiding behind this bush and scaring tourists . My friend and I watched him for like 15 minutes scaring everyone: young and old and thought he was quite hilarious.
San Jose Caltrain Station
Our Chef at Benihanas in Concord near the Golden State Open: Eating there was a fun experience with a nice show and good food. 
Truly unbelievable: The guy throws up the egg in air and drops it to create this rooster!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you had a nice trip. I didn't understand
    The bush man. Who pays him the 55,000+ and why
    Is he homeless with such a salary?