Sunday : With IM John Bartholomew and his trophy.
Saturday: West Des Moines finest with their trophies!
I survived my Thursday Night Blitz tournament with a win against my fellow coach Jon McCord and draws against Matt Kreigel and Jaleb Jay. Since Matt won the Iowa Class C championship yesterday, I can’t feel too bad about only scoring .5 out of our last 2 games since I was unknowingly playing a future state champion who is obviously demonstrating a new level of ability. I had my winning chances against Jaleb, but he turned the game into an ending with Rooks and opposite colored bishops and blocked the position very skillfully. I was happy that for the first time all year I played Jaleb a game that didn't find myself lost at some point regardless of the eventual outcome.
As usual, my entries for the Saturday tournament were trickling in until Wednesday when they started picking up steam, but just as Tim Mc Entee had predicted my attendance has lightened up as the weather got warm. I was my own worst enemy in this regard since I scheduled a St. Francis Chess Club only tournament for Monday afternoon. Since I get paid for coaching by being allowed to hold a monthly tournament in the school cafeteria, the club budget was unused this year, so I’m having a free tournament with trophies for everybody. It is a great way to reward the kids who get up early every Friday to play chess, but 2 tournaments in 3 days is a bit much for these casual chess players and their parents and I had only 3 St. Francis players come to the tournament. Throw in a big scouting event in Des Moines and little league baseball and my attendance was 47 youth players and 12 parents for my lowest attendance since last December.
Robert, Nathan, and chess coach Ben Tessman.
There was apparently some sort of problem between Chandler and Augustus during their game concerning talking or comments or something. I wasn’t there and I don’t know what happened during the game, but what I do know is that Augustus beat Chandler, and when he proffered his electronic scoresheet for Chandler to sign, Chandler wrote something that while not profane, wasn’t very nice and certainly wasn’t his signature. Everything eventually got smoothed over, but Chandler wasn’t in frame of mind to help direct the tournament. In fact, he lost his next 2 games and finished next to last in the tournament. Chandler rebounded to take fifth place in the afternoon section, but as far as running the tournament I was on my own, which was a shame since I’ve never had such an out of sync tournament. The rated, unrated, and parents section always finished at different times so I was constantly helping players find their tables, or watching games finish, or making the pairings for the next round.
My 3 St. Francis players were in the unrated morning section. I thought 7 year old Ryan had a great chance to win the tournament before it started since he has proven to be one of the top players in the school club. Ryan won his first game, but then fell for a checkmate while a rook up and wasn’t able to recover from the shock until the last round and tied for 6th place with 2.5 points out of 5. 8 year old Will won his first 3 games, including beating a high school player and was tied for first, but then he got a little caught up in the moment and lost his last 2 games, still managing to get a trophy for a fourth place finish. 10 year old Zach was playing in his first tournament after learning to play chess 2 months ago. He lost his first 3 games before winning his fourth (he also won his last game when his opponent left early). I hope he doesn’t get discouraged from tournament chess. He was the only person playing in his first tournament, but a lot of times there is a shock when a young player runs into his first experience with an entire group of players who are the best in their house or block or class. I got to play him a game and talk to his dad and tried to show him a couple of quick things he could do to improve his results. I’d like to see these young kids keep playing in tournaments, but not if it means souring them on chess. A high school player won first place and a middle school player won second, but a 5 year old player won third place and beat both Will and Ryan when he played them. Hopefully they won’t feel like has-beens for finishing behind a 5 year old! Its one thing to be the ‘boy wonder’, but quite another to be beaten by the new ‘boy wonder’. Early in the morning, an older lady came by and asked me if I could separate the gym from the cafeteria for their basketball tournament using the portable partition. She seemed very interested in the chess players and we talked for at least 10 minutes about the St. Francis chess club and the chess tournaments. I asked her if she was coaching a team and she said ‘oh no…I’m playing’. It turns out the tournament was a ‘Granny Basketball’ tournament (This is a real organization. Check it out here!) I had forgotten to bring my lunch, but I was in luck because the basketball tournament had a concession stand. I got 2 hot dogs, a giant pickle, and a water for lunch ($3) and ate with master chess player Tim Mc Entee and chess coach/poet Dan Troxell between tournaments. I had gotten 6 raffle tickets that they were selling at the basketball tournament and was happily surprised to win a digital picture keychain.
My week ended on Saturday with my new digital picture keychain and a great picture to go along with it. Live long and prosper!