Sunday, November 15, 2009

Des Moines Winter Classic Chess Tournament

  I helped Bill Broich direct a chess tournament in Des Moines yesterday. The main part of my duties was running the 22 player beginner open while Bill took care of the 18 player open section and the 11 player reserve section (Class C and below). Bill has been organizing tournaments for the past 2 years, and was quite capable of directing the tournament, but he asked for a more experienced director to assist and one of the perks of being a senior tournament director (only 4 in Iowa) is being able to help with a lot of the premier events in the state.

  The beginner tournament went well. Most of the beginners tend to be young kids and they are enthusiastic no matter what so it is always fun. Since I served as Iowa's Chess Scholastic Director from 2006 to 2008, it was a nice chance to meet up with some old friends like Sam Cole's dad
Lee Cole (magician and comedian), and Winterset's Stephens and Konevitch families who I've seen growing up in chess tournament's I've run over the years.

  There was a couple of incidents in the non-beginner section. Long time curmudgeon Wes Ferguson (1996 Iowa chess champion) was playing Brent Walker (Norwalk High School girl's basketball coach). Walker was winning but only had 25 seconds left on his clock. He queened a pawn and while reaching to hit his clock, knocked over a piece. While Brent was putting the piece back, Ferguson banged his clock down and told Walker to 'put the piece back on his own time'. Then Wes accused Brent of making 2 moves. I was called in and since Wes had no claim, there was nothing to do. But Brent was clearly rattled by the ill will and the game eventually became a draw. Quite a shame since Wes is known for his 'odd tactics' and Brent is nothing if not a gentleman.

  The other incident occurred in the under 1600 section. There was a 9 year old girl named Anastasia who had 2 points out of 3 games (a loss, a win, and a point for being the player in an odd numbered field who did not have an opponent). Her father came up to Bill and said that Anastasia was tired, did not want to play any more, and would like a half point for not playing in the last round. Since in the last round most players are playing for prize money, half-point byes are not normally allowed unless requested in advance so the request was disallowed. So the father then said she would play because 'maybe her opponent would agree to a draw'. As it worked out, her opponent was Jaleb Jay, the high schooler that came with me, who also had 2 points. Jaleb was asked by the dad to agree to a draw and he said no. I tried to explain to the dad that if his daughter got the draw, she would win maybe five dollars, so if her tiredness was an issue, he should just withdraw from the tournament and take her home. I guess the five dollars was important (five, five, five dollar foot long), because little Anastasia played. After an hour (which included her being late from dinner, and a makeshift ice-pack to help with her headache), her father came over to her table and told her to resign (a clear rules violation) since she was down a piece and rook. What a clown! The worst part about all this was that since there was an odd number of players, somebody had to not play in the last round who could have played if Anastasia had went home early.

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