Saturday, July 31, 2010

From last to ... next to last!

  I had previously written about how I had submitted my blog posting about the Okoboji Open for the Best Humorous Contribution in the 2010 Chess Journalists of America Awards. Unlike my experience 4 years ago, this year’s awards were very transparently and professionally run. I thought I was a long shot to win an award but when I saw my wife Kathy chuckle when reading the posting, I figured I had a chance (Kathy doesn’t like my sense of humor very often). I also had another chance at fame and glory when the my article about the 2009 Iowa Championships had been submitted for the Best tournament Report by the editor of the Iowa Chess News quarterly magazine, En Passant. Somehow, the report had been attributed to my son Matt, but I wasn’t going to concern myself with that small detail unless I happened to win.

  The results came to me via e-mail this week and not only were the winners supplied, I got to see the judges’ scores for all the entries. The judges, who are all anonymous, assigned each entry 0 (terrible or no merit), 1 (fair), or 2 (excellent) points. There were 6 judges in the Best Humorous section and 4 entries. I received 1 point from 1 judge and zero points from the other 5. Needless to say, I finished 4th out of the 4 entries. Not only was my entry the worst in that section, since no other entry received less than 4 points, my entry was judged as the worst overall entry.

  My tournament report did better. My entry finished tied for 7th and 8th out of 9 entries. I got zero points from 2 judges, 1 point from 2 judges, and 2 points from 3 judges for 8 points. One of the judges that gave me 2 points did not give any of the other entries 2 points so I did have a big supporter.

  I am a little disturbed at having the worst overall entry, but not too much since I have a bunch of excuses I can use. I write about chess but the blog is not meant for chess players, so the humor is probably a little edgier than what most of the chess-playing judges are used to. The tournament report was written for chess players and the judges naturally liked it better. In the other hand, I could just be a misunderstood writer. After all, Van Gogh’s paintings were not highly thought of until he was dead.

  I do want to thank the one judge who gave me a point because that allows me to cling to the possibility that some other entry in the future will not even get one point and remove me from the record book. And I may even find a sort of infamy with my low score. Just like the players of the 72-73 Philadelphia 76er’s basketball team are interviewed when a team threatens their record of only 9 wins, I’ll be asked how I feel having my ‘achievement’ safe for another year, especially when an entry gets only 2 or 3 points.

  I didn’t want to bring this up, but maybe there is an Iowa bias in the country causing my poor marks. I noticed when the Washington Nationals pitching prodigy Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his scheduled start last week, his replacement pitcher Miguel Batista was booed by the home crowd. When asked about the booing, Batista showed he understood the crowd’s action by saying “Imagine if you go to see Miss Universe, then you end up having to see Miss Iowa” (story here). I would play up the fact I’m from New Jersey in future submissions but that would probably be putting a bigger target on my back. One time at St. Mary Church in Marshalltown Iowa, a guest priest from Italy was giving a homily in very broken English. The first thing he did was to apologize for his poor command of the language by saying “I was in New Jersey last week, and they too not understand well. I talked too good English for them...”.

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