Highest Level with Modest Participation

A Personal Experience Report of an "Old" European
from the "Wide West" of the USA

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I was immediately enthused when at the excellently attended KWA meeting in New York in September 2007 the suggestion was accepted to meet in the fine rooms of the Mechanics’ Institute at San Francisco in autumn 2009. Though it would not be new territory for me as in July 2004 on a business trip to Berkeley (CA) I had already had the chance to visit the chess club there together with my friends Andy Ansel and John Donaldson. [See On the Gold Rush's track.]

View of the library’s reading room

But nobody could suspect that after the fine meeting at Dresden 2008 where our future host had cordially invited us (>> Dresden 2008) a worldwide banking crisis would shake even the committed chess collectors.

So the lecture program from Friday, 9 October to Sunday, 11 October, prepared by John, our chairman (and former sunny state boy) Andy and other Californian members like Kerry Lawless and Yakov Zusmanovich, sounded very promising and – with the potential participation of GM Ian Rogers from Australia – of high quality.

On the left: John Donaldson achieved the IM title 1983 with a tournament in Lugano – those were the (chess) days!

But unfortunately there was a volley of refusals from Europe, moreover an Oracle event taking place simultaneously from Monday onwards boosted the hotel prices to prohibitive amounts at that weekend which also unfavorably influenced the interest in the USA.
Unperturbed by all bad news from stock markets and banks (and by additional job-related duties) I arranged for my participation.
The booking of a favorable BA flight via Düsseldorf and London was quickly done, the so accepted "Coach Class" a sacrifice to the "collector’s budget".
Finally I can only say: It was a convenient flight with an astonishing good service, only a little boring ...

On Thursday afternoon (for me of course 1 am) I was received at the SFO with a short delay by my friend and local organizer John Donaldson who in the meantime had also picked up Jurgen Stigter - flown in from Amsterdam but coming from Delaware, i.e. Dale Brandreth with plenty of luggage.

View from Coit Tower at the imposing ocean of houses of San Francisco

By the - due to the last visit familiar - BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport) we went to Powell Station in Downtown SF where Jurgen and I – after a lengthy consultancy with John via e-mail – had found accommodation in the Handlery Union Square Hotel. (Scan on the right, click to enlarge.)
Super centrally located, for me the first stay "at the heart" of one of the most beautiful cities of the world.

That it was then too "lively" overnight from Friday to Saturday which gave cause for a complaint, was exemplarily dealt with as well, just "US customer service like": the last night was for 80 US$ less without grumbling, my room mate – blessed with a better sleep at night (as jet lag-free) – was mighty happy about that, for me the morning session of our KWA meeting was very "exhausting" as some pictures will show.

There was still nothing to notice about all that at Thursday night as after a nice dinner with John and Jurgen I could anyway only fall asleep after a day of 28 hours.

A swimming pool in the courtyard of the hotel invites to recreation,
back left was our second, very quiet room.

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