Wednesday, June 27, 2012

An 'off' week

Once the games started, no one cared that I arrived only 15 minutes before the scheduled start of the tournament.
We did manage to start within 5 minutes of the 9:30 start.

  The week after I run a youth tournament is normally a time for me to take a break from chess and last week’s break couldn’t have come at a better time. I had pretty much gone through the motions for last month’s tournament and everything was in place or so I thought. I left at 8:00 expecting to arrive at 9:00 but got held up by 15 minutes when the main east to west road in Marshalltown was closed for construction except for 2 points and I had to go all the way across town to just to get on the road to Des Moines. Normally this would have been no problem except that I forgot that I was supposed to be at the tournament at 8:30 for the 9:30 start! I arrived at 9:15 and there were parents and kids already waiting for the tournament to start and a couple of the kids had already left (Luckily, they came back).

  The morning tournament went very smoothly after my initial lateness and it seems as if most of the players and parents had a good time. There was a family of 4 that came all the way from Iowa City to play (a father and 3 kids). 2 of the kids weren’t very highly rated and they only got one tie game between them in the morning. When everyone had left for the lunch break, I realized I only had one player in the afternoon unrated section. He happened to have won the morning unrated tournament so I arranged with his parents to get him a 3 month membership so he could play in the rated section. Then another unrated player showed up and since now I still had no unrated players, I got him a 3 month membership also. Everyone was ready to sit down and play when the father from Iowa City (who had just returned from lunch) asked me if I could move his 2 lower rated kids to the unrated section! I didn’t bother explaining that I’d just bought the 2 unrated players temporary memberships; I just said that I had no unrated players. The father was a good sport about it and everyone played their first game but got to thinking that with 14 players, I could move the lowest rated 4 players into their own section. So after the first game, I took the two lower rated kids from Iowa City, Dalton (the beginner) from my chess club, and one of the unrated players I’d gotten a membership for and had my first ever rated ‘unrated’ section! I might have avoided a lot of confusion if I had thought over the father’s request instead of following Nancy Reagan’s advice of ‘Just Saying No (sic)’.

  It was a messy tournament day that ended well enough, but all the same I was happy to have it done with so I could forget about the day I showed up late to my own tournament! I spent the rest of the weekend relaxing and on Monday I had my first lesson with my new chess student, Alex. I’ve never given private lessons before, but Alex’s mom is my chess camp nurse and since he has another commitment that will prevent him from attending the camp, the lessons are my way of paying his mom for helping out with the camp. We met at Big City Burgers, a restaurant in the Capital Square building 2 blocks from my workplace. My thinking was that I would order a $3.75 turkey burger and eat it during the lesson. The lessons are not only going to be good for Alex (hopefully), they will also help me since the material for the lessons are the positions I’m preparing for the chess camp. I met Alex and his dad at noon as scheduled, we sat down at one of the tables that were set up in the lobby of the office building, I set up a puzzle position for Alex to work on, and went to order my turkey burger but there was such a long line I decided to order my burger later and went back to the lesson. At 12:30, I went back to order my turkey burger and after 3 minutes of waiting behind the only person in line to decide whether or not he wanted sprouts on his burger and asking if there were any wheatgrass sprouts and trying to find out if the onion rings were made with organically grown onions, I gave up on my turkey burger for this day and went back to the lesson. I’ve eaten at Big City Burgers often enough to have known how busy they were at lunch time and the reason I went without lunch was not the sprout person in front of me, rather my not calling in an order ahead of time.

  The lesson finished well enough and I muddled through until Thursday when I got to go to the Marshalltown Chess Club like I do at least 50 Thursdays a year. For the second week in a row, we didn’t have any out of town players so I skipped the tournament since we were all playing amongst ourselves, but as we went to the last half hour of club the younger kids started getting restless and bored. I thought it was because it was summer, but then 2 of the kids told me they were looking forward to the tournament and were disappointed we didn’t have it. I hadn’t skipped a tournament in a few months and was totally oblivious to the new reality that the younger players want to have the tournament whether there are out of town players or not. Lesson learned and from now on I’ll be having a tournament every week.

  I had a relaxing non-chess weekend and resolved to pay more attention to small details like remembering what time I have to be at my tournament, having a tournament every Thursday, and ordering my lunch on lesson day ahead of time. I went to work on Monday and made sure to order my turkey burger online. I got to Big City Burgers a few minutes before the lesson, and went right to the register to pick up my burger. The only group in front of me included a lady who needed to know how many calories was in the pita bread they used for the wrap so she could decide on getting a wrap or having her sandwich loose in a container. It was hot and after 3 minutes of the great pita wrap debate I was getting hotter but finally they decided to get the wrap and at long last it was my turn to pick up my turkey burger. I handed in my on-line order receipt to the cashier and she looked at me and said:
Oh! You could have just gone in the on-line order line'.


Given a choice of 2 lines, I went in the wrong one! To quote the prophet Bugs Bunny, "What a maroon!". Serves me right for trying to be just like 'Everyone else'. On the other hand, I did manage to snap this picture of John Kerry. When I asked him if he was indeed John Kerry, he told me he only gets recognized in Iowa every 4 years or so...