Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bad Bad Friday, Good Good Saturday

  I woke up Friday like any other day and washed up like any other day and walked the beagles like any other day and hung out with them for an hour while playing on my computer before I went to work like any other day, And that’s when it stopped being like any other day.

  I couldn’t find my MP3 player so I emptied my pockets and searched through the contents, but I still couldn’t find it so I stopped thinking about it and went off to work. When I got to the parking garage at work in downtown Des Moines, I reached into my pocket for my parking pass like I always do and only had my company ID badge. I didn’t have it and was looking in my car to see if it fell out while I called Kathy to see if I left it at home. Kathy told me I left it on the dresser. I must have forgotten to put it back in my pocket while I was emptying them looking for my MP3 player. Kathy also mentioned to me she found my MP3 player...in the dryer clunking around in my pants pocket after it was washed.

  I was pretty upset at having my MP3 player destroyed and having to fill out paperwork to leave the parking garage to go home, but then I remembered I had to leave the parking garage at lunch to drive 15 miles to pick up the trophies for the tournament I was having on Saturday. After an unusually frustrating morning at work (it may have been my attitude, I’m thinking), I walked to the parking garage, drove my car to the exit, filled out the paperwork from the clerk to leave the garage and headed off to Grimes to get my trophies. When I got there, the owner of the trophy store was working with a soccer coach who was getting 12 medals. They were looking at the catalogue and going over all the different medal styles, ribbon choices, and engraving options. Then the coach said they wanted the medals today and the owner said that she would call them when they were ready.

  I was waiting through all this and I had sent in the order for my trophies and medals over a month before. I wanted to pick up the trophies on Wednesday but was told they weren’t ready. Even when I got the trophies on Friday, they weren’t what I ordered. The owner explained that she couldn’t get the inserts or bases, I asked for a design that she didn’t normally carry, her supplier messed up the order, and that’s why everything was so late. I mentioned that I sent in my order over a month ago and she told me she didn’t look at it until this week. For my January tournament, I was told I didn’t get the trophy tops I wanted because I had only given the order 2 weeks ahead of time, so I started sending the order for the next tournament as soon as the last one ended. Then the owner asked if I was going to have an order for my June tournament? A lot of thoughts went through my mind, but I just said that I’d have to see. I have to be the easiest sales ever for this trophy store, but my business is getting taken for granted. I think I have to take my business elsewhere for awhile to get the point across about what kind of customer service I expect. I got my trophies, drove back across town to the parking garage, and made my way back to work for an uneventful afternoon. I got out of the parking garage by filling out another set of paperwork, got home, walked the dogs, and called LegalZoom.com. I had used them for some chess stuff and they had left a message saying they wanted me to call them. I had filled out some paperwork wrong and it needed it to be redone. I filled out everything according to the instructions on their web site, but they insisted that I had done it wrong because I did it according to the instructions on the web site, but there was nothing wrong with the web site. After all that, I listened to the Yankees lose to the filthy Red sox for their 3rd loss in a row. During the broadcast the announcer mentioned that it was Friday the 13th. It was the first time I’d heard that and while I’m not normally superstitious, I can’t deny that I had a nightmare of a day.

  On Saturday, I left the house at 6:45 for the 5th of my monthly chess tournaments. I picked up Chandler, a high school kid who goes to my chess club at the Salvation Army. In return for playing for free, he was going to help set up the tournament room. I knew that attendance was going to be light, but I was keeping an eye on the weather report because I had a number of emails from parents saying if their child’s baseball or soccer got cancelled, they would be playing chess. It rained all the way to Des Moines, but as we entered the city limits, the skies parted to reveal a bright, sunny, day.

While the numbers weren't up to the previous tournaments,
the chess was just as competitive.

  I had 30 players and parents playing and the tournament ran so smoothly, I was able to get into the parents section for a couple of games when a parent and her son dropped out to attend his soccer match. My friend Dan Troxell was there and I got him to talk about his Des Moines chess clubs. A lot of the school clubs have ended and the parents are looking for a way to keep their kids involved in chess for the summer beyond the tournaments and chess camps I’ll be holding. Tim McEntee also stopped by. He played a game in the parents section and went over the game to an audience of parents and players. He answered everyone’s questions, gave a great insight into a master chess players thought process, and made chess a lot less mysterious for anyone watching.

While Tim McEntee was explaining a higher level of chess understanding to some parents, Kyle Kopf was practicing his endgame knowledge against his dad.

  Yesterday was as good a day as Friday was crummy. The players and parents were great sports all through the year and I never had any incidents. I closed out the series with 256 players (159 unique) in the 5 tournaments and so far, I’ve lost less than a hundred dollars, which I may be able to recoup by reusing the extra medals I was not able to give out at some of the tournaments. The kids seemed to have a little cabin fever by the time the fifth game rolled around, so I’m liking my decision to make the June tournament only a couple of hours a lot more. I unveiled my July chess camp and got a sign up and quite a bit of interest.

  I consider the 5 chess tournaments a great success. I knew that the May tournament was problematic and June will probably be the same, but I feel I need a monthly activity to keep the base of chess players engaged while I prepare to take my family chess program to the next level.