The Sharknado of Colorado Chess

Happy Shark Week!


This previous Friday night, my good friend Anthea Carson asked me if I wanted to go up with her to Denver to play in Life Master Brian Wall’s new Friday night Taco Bell tournament on the 16th Street Mall.

I didn’t have anything else going on, and even though I had already played rated chess games on Wednesday and Thursday, I decided to take the trip up there.

We parked at the County Line train station and took the light rail into town.  Anthea had never done it before, so it was a fun new adventure for her.

The tournament was a 4 round g/30 plus 5 second delay, which is a time control I really like.  It is the fastest time control allowed, which still counts as a standard rated game with USCF.

The Taco Bell is open until 2:30 AM, and the tournament started at 6:30pm.

Needless to say I had a blast at the tournament!

Here is what I wrote on the Colorado Chess Facebook page:

Everyone needs to add Brian’s Taco Bell tourney to their chess “bucket list”.

The playing conditions are the Sharknado of Colorado Chess – so bad they are FRICKEN AWESOME!


  • Toilets with a combination lock, and raw sewage on the floor,
  • homeless bums,
  • drunks hungry for fourth meal,
  • scantily clad women dressed like strippers,
  • street performers and mimes making smart ass comments,
  • tourists taking pictures,
  • people loudly arguing over their orders,
  • the aroma of reheated mystery meat,
  • and all the fun and excitement of the downtown area of a big city on Friday night!

HIGHLY recommended!

Brian and I were posing for pictures from an enthusiastic tourist during our game, Brian was chatting w Robert Ramirez’s sister during our the game, and helping her son with the bathroom code. We were both laughing at the customers who were screaming at each other.  There are a lot of distractions. It is like the “Tough Mudder” of chess tournaments.

I actually really like playing in conditions like this, because I feel I have an advantage. Years of having to understand and write/modify complex software code in noisy cubicles have honed my concentration skills to the point where the insanity of a busy taco bell isn’t a big deal. For some people though, it is going to be like “Welcome to the jungle”.

Jeff Baffo commented:

No pressure under those conditions; built in excuses for doing poorly…what more could you want? Plus playing chess in public shows them out-of-towners how gosh dang smart we iz here in Colorado!

Brian Wall wrote:

Come to Taco Bell Chess Boot Camp, you’ll never complain about another tournament again.

I ended up doing REALLY well at the tournament – I won all four of my games.  My original facebook status was actually

I’ll take a Cheesy Gordita Crunch, Diet Pepsi, and 110 rating points, please :-)



You can see my rating graph went straight up


My rating went from 1842 to 1952 in one day.

I beat a 2136 rated player, and Brian who was at a recent high rating 2273.  The USCF also recently changed their rating formula, to increase the points that higher rated players get, which helps.

Of course with G/30 anything can happen.  There is a lot of slop.  Pieces hanging, missed mates in one, people running out of time, etc.  It is ripe for upset wins. 

Here is my game against Brian, which is the first time I have ever beat him.


 Here was a report written by J.C. MacNeil

J.C. MacNeil’s report on the downtown Denver tournaments, Week 2.

Friday night at the Taco Bell:

There was a welcome improvement in both attendance and strength. A 4 round,
rated G:30 with 5 second delay, tournament was held. Mr. Tactics Time, Tim
Brennan, played very well to win with a 4-0 score. Notably with a nice Rook vs.
Bishop and Knight win over Chris Peterson, and a sweet tactical win against
Brian Wall, ending with a mate!! Chris crushed me in the round 1 and won
against Brian in the last round to go 3-1. I had the same score as Tim but with
wins and losses reversed. Squandering an interesting position against Anthea’s
son Isaac and getting mated in a winning position against Todd from Loveland.
Jules from the DCC also played a nice game and took a point from me. Other then
the site being fairly noisy and erratic round starting times, this was
competitive tournament with a good mix of players.

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