Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Silly Season!

  On Saturday I helped at the Valley High School Chessathon in Des Moines. It was organized by 3 time Iowa Girls champion Dhrooti Vyas with the proceeds going to help the Haiti earthquake victims. It was a fun day. I gave an endgame lecture that was well received, played some chess against beginners, managed to get in an offhand game with Kushan Tyagi (a draw), and played in a tandem simultaneous exhibition where Kushan and former Iowa champion Dan Vasto would alternate moves (I was the only non-beginner to lose). At the Chessathon, I was told one of the silliest things I ever heard. On Sunday, I watched the Yankees’ opening game of the season against the hated Red Sox. Sadly, the yanks lost a big lead to the Sox. At work the next day, a coworker talked to me about the game and made me make even more room on my personal ‘silly things I’ve heard list’.

  On Saturday, one of the chess parents I was acquainted with from my time as Iowa Scholastic Chess Director was asking me about national regulations concerning youth team tournaments. A 6th grade player I know missed school on the sign up date for the middle school chess club and since all 30 spots on the club were filled for the year, was not allowed to participate in the club activities. The young player was not deterred by his exclusion from the club and went to tournaments during the year. The national middle school team chess tournament is this weekend in Minneapolis and the player has signed up and noted that he would be playing for his middle school. In the national team scholastic tournaments, schools can bring as many players as they want, with the top 4 scores per school comprising the team score. The middle school coach is working to have this player removed from his school roster for the national tournament even though it won’t cost his team anything by allowing him to be included. And this was a player that had participated in the coach’s elementary school teams for many years and has attended his non-scholastic tournaments. I’ve seen this coach separate 4 girls at a tournament he was running into a separate section (even though it was not advertised as such) and then only give out 3 ribbons for prizes even though there were more prize ribbons than players. After all, what’s a youth chess tournament without somebody feeling excluded by being the only girl without a ribbon. This coach does a great job selling kids and their parents on to chess, but his silly adherence to a vision of the ‘proper’ way to do things does an equally great job of turning these same kids off to chess as they get older. I had a similar problem with this coach at an elementary team tournament in 2008 concerning another young player. The coach didn’t want the players score to count for the school. I pointed out that since the player attended that school, his score would count towards the school’s score. The player’s score ended up helping the team win the K-6 championship and the coach didn’t seem too displeased while accepting the championship trophy. I ended up telling the parent who asked me the question that while National Scholastic rules may cover this situation, there was probably not any National Infant rules to prevent the 70+ year old chess coach from acting like a big baby.

  At work on Monday, my coworker told me ‘Yankees Suck. All they do is lose!’ How silly. While his comment is technically true so far this season, the season is only 1 game old. I tried to tell my friend that as a Yankee fan, the games don’t count until October. A Royals fan may really need to win the first game of the year because that will be the only time they are over .500 all season. My co-worker has a win-now soccer mentality, and just doesn’t understand a sport where the Yankees can lose 9 games in a row to their hated rivals and still win the championship (like last year). I got my revenge when the Red Sox gave away last night’s game and this morning I asked my friend if he heard who won the game last night because I didn’t hear about it. He wouldn’t admit that the Red Sox lost so I got to say, ‘Well, I guess the winners WON and the LOSERS LOST’. It was a silly thing to say, but it felt very good. I’m glad I didn’t work with this guy in 2004 or 2008, but it would have been nice to work with him last year.