Monday, December 28, 2009

New Look

I have been working hard to change the appearance to my website:
Go see and comment about it or offer suggestions.  Thanks.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Holidays

Chess Mind

Here is a quick anecdote to share.  On the flight back from the National Tournament, the children were missing the activities and engagement at the tournament.  I noticed that Desmond was putting his airplane table back up and the latch wasn't quite straight.  He reached over to straighten it and said quietly, "I adjust".  The kids and I still are reflecting on that amazing experience.  Dylan is still focused on the event and is currently is "bend-a-rooing" chess pieces as we speak.  Chess brains are creative brains!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thursday Chess Club

Tournament Board Raffle:  Congratulations Nick Wilson
Tournament Board Donation:  Congratulations Alex Aspuro
Chess Workouts Winner: Congratulations Taylor Walton
WRHS Bughouse Champions:  Congratulations Andrew Uriarte & Chris Ellis
WRHS Blitz Champion:  Congratulations Nick Bruck

It has been an active chess month for WRHS Chess Club and the momentum seems to be building.  Thirteen Blitz players competed for the WRHS Blitz Champion position on Thursday and the winner wasn't even going to sign up!  We played 10 rounds G/5 games in my classroom with two sections, K-6 and 7-12.  The first rounds were without much hoodoo, but as the night wore on, players were gradually crowding me and my computer more and more as they attempted to predict their next round opponents or to see where they were in the standings.

In the K-6 section, elementary students faced off with high schoolers and in numerous cases came out victorious.  Dylan Porth(4th grade, 4.0) began the tournament with a draw against Max (12th grade, 6.5) and then ended the night with a win against Andrew (11th grade, 7.0).  Her win against Andrew was just what Desmond Porth (7th grade, 7.0) needed to secure second place in the upper section.   Nathan (3rd grade, 5.0) earned a point against tournament newcommer Liam (11th grade, 6.0).  Nathan won 1st place and Dylan won 2nd place in the K-6 section.

The 7-12 section was very dynamic for the 2nd and 3rd place trophies.  Nick (11th grade, 9.5 pts.) was not going to enter but then in the last minute decided to.  He felt he played better long games than the time pressuring blitz games, but you can't win if you don't play, and he did.  In a surprise upset, Miles (11th grade, 6.5 pts.)  took a perfect tournament away from Nick and that proved to be his "trophy" that he went home with.  In the last round, Andrew  succombed to Dylan leaving both Andrew and Desmond tied with 7 points.  However, Desmond beat Andrew previously allowing for the head-to-head tie-breakers to work.  Without the head-to-head tie-breaker, Andrew would have won second place.  Other than the occasional illegal move, I only had to research what to do about a clock that broke during a game.  All participants received a Chess dogtag in addition to their earned hardware.  In addition, the Bughouse and Blitz Champions will have their names engraved on the perpetual plaque of WRHS Chess Champions.  Great job to all who participated!

The next tournament will be January 12 & 14, K-Adult Scotch Tournament.

Standings: 2009 WRHS Blitz Championship
1 Nick Bruck        W6 W11 W2 W3 W7 W5 D4 W8 W9 W10   9.5

2 Andrew Uriarte  W4 W8 L1 W11 L3 W7 W5 W6 W10 L9      7.0

3 Desmond Porth   W13 W7 W5 L1 W2 L4 W9 W10 W12 L6   7.0

4 Miles Hendrix      L2 B--- W8 L6 W11 W3 D1 W12 W7 L5    6.5

5 Max Bates          W10 D9 L3 W12 W6 L1 L2 B--- W8 W4     6.5

6 Liam Skye           L1 W10 L7 W4 L5 W8 W12 L2 B--- W3    6.0

7 Riley Neel            W12 L3 W6 W13 L1 L2 W10 W9 L4 W12 6.0

8 Nathan Stouffer     W9 L2 L4 W10 W12 L6 W13 L1 L5 B---  5.0

9 Dylan Porth            L8 D5 L10 B--- W13 D12 L3 L7 L1 W2  4.0

10 Garrett Stouffer    L5 L6 W9 L8 B--- W13 L7 L3 L2 L1       3.0

11 Taylor Walton       B--- L1 W13 L2 L4 U  U  U   U U           2.0

12 Jake Whitlock       L7 L13 B--- L5 L8 D9 L6 L4 L3 L7        1.5

13 Matt Lichtenberg    L3 W12 L11 L7 L9 L10 L8 U  U  U        1.0

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday Chess Club

At tonight's chess club, 5 two-man teams competed for the WRHS G/5 Bughouse Championship:  Bruck-Bates, Uriarte-Ellis, Black-Broderick, Walton-Skye, and Poklemba-Lochard.  This was a very easy and relaxed tournament with a double-round-robin format and lot's of on-lookers.  The Uriarte-Ellis team was undeniably the top team with 8.0 pts.  Bruck-Bates scored 6.0, Walton-Skye 4.0, Poklemba-Lochard 1.0, and Black-Broderick 1.0.  Congratulations Andrew Uriarte and Chris Ellis!  The win a trophy and their name on the perpetual plaque.  In lieu of the trophy, Andrew Uriarte donated it to the Blitzkrieg tournament this Thursday night and instead received a mouse-pad board and pieces.  This Thursday is the G/5 Blitz.  Entry is $1 for participants of the Winter Tournament.

Monday, December 14, 2009

K-12 National Championship, Day 3

Dylan is now feeling very good and has discovered a herd of friends that she is running with.  I think she might have forgot why we were here as her last two games did not go so well and she was more concerned about finding her new friends from Louisiana and Texas after the games.  For round 6 & 7, she played against a 900 and a 310 from Texas and lost both games after an hour of play.  Upon retrospect, she does not feel like she was playing her best games against these kids.  Last night she could not sleep and kept waking me up to ask me questions about chess.  I think it sunk in that she passed up on an opportunity that she could have capitalized on.

Desmond, however, really had his game face on and struggled with Yue Chu (1372) from Texas and narrowly lost his first game of the day after a 2 1/2 hours.  In the end, we noticed a pawn push could have salvaged a draw and possibly a win in the end game of pawns and a rook each.  In fact, most of Desi's games went longer than 2 hours and he recorded the games allowing us to see other possibilities.  Going into round 7, Des was in second place for his section and  after another 2 1/2 hour game, Des won his section!  I am very glad it was a fun game for him.  Lorenzo Frati (823) from Florida and Des "laughed a lot" and "joked around" during the game, and while in the parent's play pen, I could see some of the craziness on their faces during play.  I was getting nervous about the game and Des spotted me and nodded.  He is bringing some well-earned hardware!  1st place, U800.

I am proud of my kids and I really enjoyed this event.  I know my children did too.  While at Aunt Sandy's house eating dinner with Aunt Marlene, Uncle Bobby, and Aunt Pat, Des and Dylan both suddenly were distant and commented that they missed being at the tournament and were sad that it was over.

My Aunt Sandy and Uncle Herbert deserve much appreciation for providing lodging, food, and transportation, and lot's of family love.  This morning was much craziness with my wallet and keys left on the floor of her car after Sandy dropped me off.  As it was dark at 5 am, I did not see them laying there!  Then my cell phone was dead and I couldn't call her to have her turn around, but this was a moot point anyway since she didn't have hers cell phone anyway.  Consequently, we are going to fly back to Boise and arrive at 11:30 pm, and then we will drive 3 hours to Sun Valley!  What an awesome trip!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

K-12 National Champioship, Day 2

I wish everyone could experience this the way I do.  I love looking at the energy that chess players seem to have.  Even the parents of chess players seem to always be engaged in something mentally productive.  Only at a chess tournament would you frequently see T-shirts that champion "Thinking".  I love it.  Today was a great day.

Dylan was feeling much better, however, Desmond came down with the crud that she had.  Thankfully, he only felt nauseous.  Both children were in great spirits and were very punch happy by the end of the day.  Desmond ended the day with 2 pts., and Dylan showed no mercy in her last game and also has 2 pts.

I even scored 2 pts. out of 4 rounds in the parents-friends tournament against 23 combatants.  Yes, there is never enough chess for me!  G/30 felt like Blitz to me after playing G/120 for so long.  I lost the first game with an 1800+ with only seconds left on the clock and only a king and pawn for each of us (well, at least my king to his king and pawn . . .I thoroughly enjoyed the game).  All of my games had me in time trouble near the end of them.  The Colle-Zuckertort for white-2 wins!  Flailing wildly as black-2 losses.  I really need help for black as nothing is really comfortable for me and I lost my two black games.  Maybe the Dutch will have some answers for me.  Any suggestions?

I met some nice people so far.  I was talking to Susan Polgar about the length and depth of analysis that parents and coaches offer their kids when they come out of the tournament room.  It was nice to see that I agreed with her that 5-10 minutes is enough.  After all, the kids just worked hard for hours!  I use my soccer coaching philosophy here:  a good coach gets the job done before the event and fixes problems discovered after the event.  George from Columbus, Ohio has twin boys (11th graders) in the tournament, and I have taken to conversing with him between rounds.  I also got to share stories with Cheryl Bruce Knight, the tournament organizer.  I think the organizers of such an event deserve much appreciation.  The magnitude and quality of the event, and the happiness, excitement, competitiveness, and the determination of the participants speaks to the success.  In life and chess, you get what you pay for.  And this is expensive!

Friday, December 11, 2009

K-12 National Championship, Day 1

The scene is very surreal - the Hilton Anatole is a very high end beast with authentic asian statues, glass chandeliers, vases, bronze and marble sculptures featuring Hindi and Budhist icons.  There are also a pair of slabs from the Berlin Wall featured in a private courtyard between the numerous buildings.  The room for the simul with Alexandra Kosteniuk was large enough for a Monsters of Rock concert and the 2-8 section room featured several chandeliers that are as large as my house (no joke!).  Now envision over 1200 kids and their families, teams, and chess boards in every nook and cranny of the grenogous structure and you might get an idea of the size of this event.  I saved a 10 ft. elephant statue that one middle school boy tried leaping on, and the father that I was talking to saved a vase from a football being launched from the other side of the room.  Kids were running everywhere, footballs, remote cars, chess, piles of parents, laptops, sodokus, webkins, card games, B.O., tennis balls, and much more.

The Porth's certainly contibuted to the menagerie.  We arrived early enough to chat with Alexandra Kosteniuk and her husband and to also have a private board signing and picture session.  However, the start was unlike any tournament start.  You see, Dylan woke up vomitting, arrived vomitting in the parking lot, and continued to vomit during her game with Alexandra Kosteniuk, and during her first round game.  I told Dylan that mountain girls are tough and that she might as well sit in front of a chess board and make a move every now and then, rather than sit in front of the tv feeling just as bad.  As I watched the spectacle, I was feeling lower by the minute, and by the end of the first round, I couldn't find a rock large enough to crawl under.  What was crazier was that the rooms were so big and the bathrooms were so far away, Dylan would literally run to the nearest garbage and throw her head into it and RALPH.  One mom even asked me if I did my daughters hair and then pointed out that I put her cute hair-piece upside-down.  People were rather impressed with her game against Alexandra, though.  Dylan was nearly 3/4 of the way into the game with even material but a crumbling position and I was as proud of her as I ever have been.  She played for 2 3/4 hours against Alexandra and had 15 min. break before her first round match began.   Desmond was very supportive of Dylan also and refrained from telling Dylan not to breath on anyone ("Dad, her breath smells like puke!").  Good boy.  The first game ended after 1/2 hr., thankfully.  A pediatric nurse was camped out near us and provided some medication that knocked her out for a good 2 1/2 - 3 hours and also her nausea.  She awoke disoriented and in time for me to throw some food at her, and rush her off to her second round game.  When I asked her how she played, she said flatly, "I didn't make any mistakes, dad, but he did.  So I took his queen, then his rooks, and the rest of his pieces.  Do you want me to show you the mate?  I used the ladder you taught me."  Through the exhausted tone, I could see the pride she felt after day 1.  What an absolute sweet heart.

Desi had a very tough day and faced a 1500 and a 1200 for his two rounds.  We played out his first game and I will post that here tomorrow.  As he explained his moves, he played out a recovering combination that I thought (and he during the game) was a winner, but then "What the . . ."   A bishop from the other side of the board equalized.   It was a very interesting game and he almost pulled a win out of it.  I think we will upon analysis at home.  I have not looked at the second game, yet.  I am happy about what he learned during the Kosteniuk game and the round 1 game.  I am just happy that he recorded all his games today and his games were over 2 1/2 hours each. 

This has already been a tournament that we will always remember and there are two more days!  Desi and Dylan want me to play in the parents-friends tournament tomorrow where my score will be combined with theirs for a composite score.  We all pulled together and supported each other, and spent a lot of the day laughing and playing with each other, despite the physical and mental anguish of the chess games.  Des and Dylan both look forward to what the next few days will bring.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

National K-12 Scholastic Championship!

The kids and I are excited to go to National K-12 Scholastic Championship in Dallas, Texas beginning Friday morning.  Desmond and Dylan, however, stayed home today due to fevers and colds!  This was going to be a grueling tournament anyway . . .now a cold on top of it!?  They will have fun and an educational time, in any event.  They will be the only 2 kids from Idaho according to the pre-registrations.

The tournament is 3 days and 7 rounds SS, G/90 with 160 kids in Dylan's 4th grade section and 103 kids pre-registered in Desmond's 7th grade section.  Bughouse and Blitz are Thursday night and we will miss this, but Friday morning at 10 am, both kids will get to play Alexandra Kosteniuk in a Simul featuring 40 kids!  I wish I got to play her. 

We will be staying at my Aunt's and Uncle's house and I am unsure about the internet connections there.  I will try to keep all of you posted about the progress at this site.  Pictures too?  Wish them luck and good play!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Winter Tournament Results

It snowed last night and quit about the time I woke up - 5:30 am.  Did I get everything?  Why weren't there pre-registrants?  How many kids are coming?  I forgot candy canes!  Where did I put my santa's hat?  Do I have enough prizes and gifts?  Will the kids enjoy themselves?  I have to remember my camera . . .it always works out in the end - just relax and drink your coffee.

Fourteen sleepy teens and children began arriving at 8:30 this morning for the 2009 Winter Tournament.  This is always a fun tournament, with door prizes, candy canes, hardware for all participants, and a visit from Santa (Erwin!!).  Despite the low turnout and the relaxed start, it soon whipped into a frenzy of games where anything could happen.  The message of the tournament:  in order to win, you must decide to play.  The kids that came certainly did that.

The sections were re-combined into a K-6 grade section and a 7th-12th grade section, however, the kids played for their grade prizes.  Desmond (2.0 pts.) agreed to play tougher games in the older group.  Darwin made his first chess debut and decidely won the K-3 trophy (being the only one in that group certainly didn't matter to him when he saw the trophy he won!).  Dylan (3.5 pts.) and Josh  (1.0 pt.) battled for 1st and 2nd place in the 4-5th grade section.  Jake (4.0 pts.) and Wesley  (2.5 pts.) took 1st and 2nd place, respectively.  I am very impressed with the improvement in Jake's games and it is apparent that attending the chess club nights at WRHS and being exposed to high school level play is certainly paying off.

Most of the excitement was in the older kids section.  There was a 3-way tie for 1st place that required a second level tie-break.   In the end, Andrew (1st place), Tyler (2nd place), and Curly (3rd place).  In round 5, Tyler (4.0 pts.) was set up to have a perfect tournament score and his buddy Nick was rooting for him.  Andrew (4.0 pts.) was heckling Curly (4.0 pts.) and threatened to end their friendship if Curly didn't beat Tyler in that round!  Earlier, Andrew beat Curly in round 1, and Tyler beat Andrew in round 3, and Andrew needed to beat Desmond and needed Curly to win against Tyler to place in the top 3.  Sweet Mother!  The players were agonizing over all the possible scenarios and I was having a hoot trying to follow each of their logics.

In other moments, Nick (2.5 pts.) claimed "touch move" after Desmond brushed a bishop while reaching for a pawn on move 4.  Nick was trying to pull a knight - queen mate on the f7 square.  I am glad that Nick's common sense prevailed and they were able to continue the game with better sportsmanship.  Shaken by the situation, Desmond lost.  It's hard to play against competitive high schoolers . . .duh!  Shane (2.5 pts.) narrowly lost as he had an "undefeatable mate" in one, but Tyler discovered his own mate in 1 and executed it immediately.  I thought Tyler might play a Black-eyed Peas song after the win - My Humps.

Miles (3.0 pts.) was a surprise newcomer to the tournament and also was banking on round 5 upsets to move up in the ranks.  He could have made 2nd place if Andrew and Curly lost.  So, he was rooting for Tyler and Desmond, as well.  He ended in 4th place.  Two other newcomers, Rebecca (1.0) and Jason (2.0), just began playing chess three weeks ago.  They spent most of the tournament with slack jaws and crinkled foreheads at the intensity by which the games were played because it certainly was different from club nights.

Erwin Kett arrived in a Santa outfit during round 3 and shook everyone's hand and wished them a Merry Christmas.  Everyone loves Erwin, our greatest supporter!  Door prizes were drawn between rounds and went to Rebecca (red/black pieces & board), Shane (mouse-pad board), Jason (wristband), and Wesley (t-shirt and travel chess wallet).  All non-placing contestants received a commemorative medal.

The fun continued . . .Jason, Rebecca, Tyler Walton, and I ran the girls basketball concessions and earned over $100 for our club.  This was very fortunate as we went into the red over $100 to run the tournament!  With the three unused trophies, we don't even have to charge for the Christmas Blitzkrieg and the Santa's Bughouse tournament in a few weeks.  Isn't it interesting how it all works out in the end?  If you, or anyone you know would like to sponsor ($) a tournament or a chess player, you should contact me.
 - - - - - - - -
Curly shows Josh some opening moves.  This is why I like having the mixed age-levels in clubs and chess events.  The older kids really do take on leadership roles and pass on knowlege of the game.

Winter Tournament Today!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday Chess Club

Another awesome night of new chess students and lot's of games being played.  We had 22 people and 8 were first-timers.  I actually got to play some games (3).  All e4 openings. 

A warm, fuzzy welcome to new member:  Lara Hobbs!

Shane is in the lead on the TLAK chess workouts.   He has attained the green tag (knight).  Taylor is now into the orange tag with Desmond almost an orange tagger.  I use the engraver to carve the student's names into the tags which gives them a more personal touch.  Remember that the student with the most points will earn an executive tournament bag, board, and pieces.

Julia came with a friend and we have a strong 9th grade girls contingent.  Julia and Karla  are becoming fast learners.  Rebecca is also understanding some of the complexities and beginning to gain confidence.  Maybe we can get a crew to come to girls state?  I think I will take them all to the Novice tournament in January.

This Saturday, Dec. 5 is our Winter Tournament.  Mason's did great chess trophies with a Santa Claus barrel.  A great collectable??  I hope we get a bunch of kids at this tournament.  I moved the tournament into the DLL so the girls basketball could start their games earlier.  In return, the basketball team is letting the chess club raise money by running the basketball concessions stand.  Come by for a burger and support both chess club and girls basketball.  I will pull out giant chess and also have boards available.  We will also raffle off a tournament chess board.

"Choose your Weapon"  with BCSD Chess Rage on the back will be available tomorrow.  I can only accept sweatshirt orders at the moment as our account is in the red!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2009 Southern Idaho Open: Garrett scores Four!

Garrett Reynolds remained on board one throughout the short, but intense four-round ICA event, and cinched another perfect tournament with 4.0 pts. Round 4 featured U1400, Rick Weathers facing off with Garrett in a long duel that appeared to keep Garrett unusually focused and attentive to his game. In the end, Garrett asserted his championship status. However, Rick Weathers (1385) was also having a great tournament by beating Fred Bartell (1718) and Hugh Myers (1585) in previous rounds. A great finish for both competitors.

The last round featured upsets including Tom Booth (1500) over Jeff Roland (1794), and a draw with Caleb Kircher (1540) against Bartell. An exciting end occurred between Dan Looney and Jeff Baggett, where Dan, with pieces and pawns up, lost on time. In the U1400 section, one of the last games included chess newcomer, Joey (unr.) and Aaron Proferes (845). In the last game standing, Barry Eacker and Richard Cohen fought a very positional game that ended with a resignation on a rook combo that Barry set up on the back rank.

Prize winners included: 1st place was Garrett Reynolds (4.0), sharing 2nd & 3rd place were Jeff Baggett and Tom Booth (3.5), sharing 4th place was Jim Stark and Barry Eacker (3.0). Caleb Kircher and Jeff Roland received books donated by Glen Buckendorf, ten-time Idaho Champion. In the U1400 section: 1st place was Rick Weathers (3.0), and sharing the second place prize were 5 players (2.0) - Kevin Ness, Kevin Patterson, Michael Ye, Adam Porth, and Jamie Lang.

Besides the quality of the games (see Nick Bruck v. Dan Looney, Rnd1), the tournament featured a wide field of various abilities (range 621-1925) and ages (10- 80+), 33 opponents, and an average player rating of 1330. Kevin Patterson did an excellent job playing George Lundy for a win, while simultaneously posting the football score of the Broncos and Vandals games. I noticed many participants more concerned about that trouncing than their own. Maybe we should have paused the games for a few hours and headed to the pub!

My games were fair at best.  Against Fred Bartell, I was too "chicken" to execute a Knight sacrifice that would have snagged two pawns in front of his castled king.  In my game against Richard Cohen I did, however, have the gumption to try this with a future fork on a knight and bishop and a simultaneous discovered attack against a rook.  I won the rook, but tempo losses for me saved his bishop and knight.  These extra pieces were well-placed and I succombed soon afterward.  Play and learn!  Wood River was also represented by Jeff Baggett (3.5 pts.) and Erwin Kett (2.0 pts.). Five WRHS Chess team also played and decided long games are where it's at! Newcomer Andrew  (1.5 pts.) commented, "I beat an adult!" after reflecting on his game against Alexandr Vereshchagin. Shane  (1.0 pt.) thought these games were "radically" different from scholastics and wants to come again. We hope to see more students and newcomers in future tournaments. Please look forward to another ICA tournament in January, in Boise.

Thank you ICA and Barry Eacker providing such an enjoyable tournament.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday Chess Club

It was a bit serious tonight with Nick, Chris, Andrew, and Joey playing quiet, reflective games in preparation for the Southern Open in Twin Falls.  The evening was full, however with 28 kids piled into my room playing chess games.  Once again, I was too busy teaching openings and the chess rules to various individuals to really pay attention to how everyone's games were going, but I assume well after entering scores on TLAK.

A warm welcome to new members:  Salomon Baeza & Maxx Bates.

We now have a total of 27 kids!!  With each night attracting several guests, the chess club is growing and is one of the strongest organizations at WRHS. 

Jill Clark called from the middle school to find out about tournaments and I directed her to my website.  Maybe a more active middle school will follow?

In other news, there seems to be very good support of actually having a chess class offered in night school.  I have a four page proposed curriculum and will soon post it at The Chessnut Website.  Hopefully it will be a 1 credit humanities elective.  I think I will be able to move our team and the chess club further in their chess education, which is at the moment piece-meal at best, but with enormous enthusiasm.

The National Scholastic tournament in December will feature 3 Idaho kids from my chess club.  My very own Dylan and Desmond.

I am a bit nevous about tomorrow's Southern Open.  I have not played very well this week on the net or over the board.  We'll soon see. . .

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chess Club Tuesdays

I now need two computers going for all the "Think Like a Kingers".  Taylor, Shane and Andrew are now engaged in workout point battles.  It appears like Taylor is ahead with 2728 pts. and Nick has 2059.  Shane has 1862 and Andrew has 55.  Humpf!

A warm welcome to new chess clubbers:  Julia, Liam, Karla, and Rebecca.  Plus we had 5 guests that might be back.  It was rather funny opening my door after school to find two boys talking quietly and looking through my window.  They were hesitant and unsure, and each seemed to be trying to egg the other in.  With my face suddenly in theirs, I asked, "would you like to play some chess?"  They suddenly looked relieved, they sat down, and played for nearly an hour.

Chess Clubbers were given their very own WRHS Chess Rage membership cards.  Some scoffed, but took them anyway.  Curly wanted two since "he might lose one!"  Erwin looked confused.  And Shane pulled last years out of his wallet and exclaimed, "great improvement, Porth."  I am impressed that a couple others said they still had last years.  Maybe they will be selling them on e-bay someday as collector's items?

I did not have much time to play or observe other games as many new chess clubbers needed help with rules or had questions, or needed popcorn, or wanted to run the TLAK software, or needed new openings.  1. h4 .. 2. Rh3 just was not cutting it (LOL) with the regulars. Others would just keep moving pawns, while the experienced club members they were playing drooled with fantasies of easy prey and free points.  So I kept trying to persuade the regulars to play others of similar ability. 

I did play one game against Taylor.  I snaked  queen with a Bishop-Knight discovered check.  He never even saw it coming. 

For those not understanding what it is like to volunteer as a scholastic coach after a club night, I cleaned up my room in prep for tomorrow, returned the popcorn maker, talked to my Principal about the Southern Open, ordered a bus, filled a form for the bus out, created a code of conduct forms & a parent's permission slip, and compiled the emergency form for travel off campus.  I counseled a chess clubber that gets a bit feisty with other players.  I also registered a new USCF player; updated my websites and the TLAK software ratings; made my gameknot moves, typed an education foundation grant for a model skeleton, typed up a new worksheet for calculating mechanical advantage, checked school and personal e-mails, and got yelled at for not loading the dishwasher!  All after chess club which ended tonight at 6 pm.  It is now 11 pm.  Star Trek is on.  Goodnight!

Cancelled Speaker - Let's Play Chess!

Students were given the option to go to a study hall or to stay in my room and learn how to play chess after the cancellation of a speaker for the cohort english classes.  After shooting 2 L bottle rockets hundreds of feet into the air, students needed to "chill".  Many of these students played chess for the first time!  What an American tragedy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chess Club Tuesday

What a great reprieve from the rigors of teaching!  I spent an enjoyable chess club night with about 18 kids engaged in chess.   It was good to see a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and enjoyment at playing chess.  Chris and Shane showed up (seemingly) as soon as the bell rung.  Were they waiting outside of my room?  Popcorn was popped, announcements made, executive chess bags were disseminated to the top team players, and games were under way.  It was like the start of a great horse race!

I spent the first part of the meeting helping a student relearn photysnthesis and then retake a quiz from class earlier in the day.  As her face showed curiosity at the chess spectacle, I couldn't resist . . ."Do you play chess?" "No" "Well, let me teach you."  She stayed for my introductory lesson while Andrew  poked fun at me for trying to establish chess-thinking by delving a bit too deep into the philosphy of the game.  Well she learned how to set the board up, how the pieces move, and what a basic checkmate looks like.  "The games you play will teach you the rest."  We then played her first ever game of chess. She moved well and even recognized an "en prise" and captured my bishop.  Feeling very proud, she quietly asked for a club registration form.  Maybe she will be back?

Welcome to (new club members):  Kamaron Davidott and Juve Ruiz

Kameron plays chess every lunch in my room and brought much enthusiasm to our club meeting tonight.  He nearly ran from game to game and seemed to be on a marathon to play the most games in one night! 

I am beginning to see the Christmas Challenge setting fire to the competitiveness of the players that are up for the Think Like a King chess workouts prize.  Nick is in the lead with 2059 points but Taylor has closed the gap and earned 2003.

Chris was man of the night with 7 wins.   I keep trying to counter his tendency to Blitz, but when the games all fall on your side, it is hard to keep from playing rapidly.  Shane made a comment while playing Joey, "Hey those chess workouts really do pay off" as he check-mated Joey with nearly all his major and minor pieces.  I love his frequent chess revelations.

I was able to start a game with Tyler and was about to unleash a devastating combo (like how I got burned in my on-line game with Jeff Roland) but the activity buses were arriving and Tyler needed to rush off.

Bughouse ended the very enjoyable evening.

In other chess news, I did some late night shopping at Wholesale Chess and bought Paul Morphy and the evolution of chess theory, some spinner medals for our next tournament, and some mouse pad boards.  I also purchased a great (and I mean GREAT!) wooden chess set that I instructed Lynnet to give me for a Christmas present.  I would like another Christmas present, someone should arrange a chess game for me with Bob Dylan at Hailey Coffee Company.  You don't need to wrap it.

Pumpkin 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rankings after Thursday

1.  Desmond 986
2.  Adam 948
3.  Nick 943
4.  Tyler J. 916
5.  Chris 916
6.  Britton 916
7.  Tyler W. 916

Chess Club Thursday

Thursday night featured two new players joining our ranks (get it?) - welcome:  Jason Black and Alex Bates.

Two Vice-Presidents are offered up:  Taylor Walton and Shane Breuss.

Thursday was more of a party than a chess club meeting.  The school unblocked You Tube and so strange and funny videos were brought up on the big screen, despite my efforts to keep loading GM games.  Oh well.  Think Like a King software was a huge attraction with Nick now in the lead for the executive set, while Shane and Taylor are still plugging away and nearly caught up. 

Bughouse dominated the night with more serious games played by yours truly and Erwin KettDesmond was in a losing position, but then pulled out a surprise check mate on Erwin in an end game that made dad proud.  He sucker-punched Erwin by providing an enticing mate in two that Erwin could not refuse, and then removed a guard on the 2nd rank allowing his rook free access to the first rank and a  mate.

I explored the orangutan opening and won 3 games against Chris, Andrew, and Erwin.  The orangutan is also known as the Sokolsky Opening or the Polish Opening, and thrives on queenside tactics after 1. b4!.   I was surprised at the success of the opening game and the focus by which I played.  I enjoyed how katy-whompus the board looked during the middle game because of asymmetry.  I also refused to make a move until I was able to concentrate on the board.  This was a huge feat as players were loud, rude videos were guarded against, Desmond and Jake were amping up on soda, and several kids were on my computer.  Plus I kept smelling dead animal.  It turns out, today, that I found my cooler with a rotten pair of deer lungs in the lab that my Physiology class was dissecting two days ago and neglected cleaning up.  It really was a dead animal!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chess Club Rankings

17 kids total:

1.  Desmond Porth 947
2.  Nick  943
3.  Chris  932
4.  Tyler  916
5.  Britton  916
6.  Tyler  916

Also, don't forget, the largest number of workbook points gets an executive, triple weighted chess bag/set by Christmas Break.

Chess Club News

Think Like a King workouts had 3 kids on it all night!  I really like the way the kids stayed focused on the program while chess club was going.  They alternated between games as there was an odd number of players.

Two new players:  welcome Evan Puluti & Josh Whitlock!

We had 13 kids show up.  Chris was on fire and quietly won all his games.  Nick brought rice krispy treats for everyone and then proceeded to slam all who challenged him including me into the tabletops!  I did not pay attention to my last blog post and was helping a student with Physical Science and carelessly blundered a bishop and my position in one swoop against Nick.

Erwin enjoyed playing the kids and rocketed through 4 games before he faced me.  I was ornery after my game with Nick and Erwin did not have a chance.  Nothing was going to deter me from focusing on the game - even my son's stomach as 6:30 pm approached.  I ended with a trick-or- treat bag filled with pawns and promoted queens (I hope Barry and Garrett don't read this post!). 

A great showing and fun for all.  See you Thursday.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Passen Sie Auf!

Staying focused and paying attention during your chess game is paramount in a serious chess game. While this may sound simple, many players often do lose focus during a game and lose, including me.   So the moral of the story is to stay focused on your game so that you do not make elementary mistakes. During tournaments, one should not have discussions with other players, think about or worry about other players, or to engage in other activites while playing.  This seems to be my one of my major weaknesses (that and lack of experience!).  While these sound like, and are excuses for losing, I will endeavor to play more seriously in the future.  Garrett's 5 move draw against Larry Parsons was a valuable lesson, in that they both recognized the competitiveness of the tournament and perceived their near future lack of focus, and agreed to a draw.  What a clear example of why they are champions and win more than lose chess games.

Here are two games that I failed to win (when I was winning) during a tournament I was TDing:

Me vs. Erwin Kett (see move 27 - I began entering results in the computer for the tournament!)
Tyler Jaramillo vs. Me (see move 10 - I was cleaning up the tables, came back and moved without looking at board!  Move 31 - I lost interest in the game and began taking tables down and entering results, I also just had a conversation with Garrett about his 5 move draw and was worried that he was not enjoying himself!  Move 37 - I began cleaning again, returned, moved without looking at board and thought I had an en prise move!)

Every bad move was preceeded by a lack of attention and focus.  I could clearly identify what I was doing when I made these horrbile moves.  When I was attentive and thinking only about the game, I was in control of the game, and thoroughly unbeatable!

Tournament Flyers

2009 Wood River Weekend
You can find flyers for all WRHS tournaments this year at in the tournament link. WRHS Chess Club Newsletters are on the WRHS page in the Bio link. Don't forget the ICA Southern Open scheduled for Nov. 14-15 in Twin Falls.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

WRHS Chess Club is Rolling!

Lot's of news here. . .

We had started our 2009-10 chess club meeting with 12 kids signing up and a full bag of popcorn being chowed down (I don't know how they consume so much salt and I have decided that teenagers are ravenous after school). I purchased Think Like a King software for our club to use and it seems to be working smoothly with registering and recording games. Tyler already started some of the chess workouts. I will give an executive chess set to the individual that completes the most workout points before Christmas Break.

Nick Bruck is our President. The Vice President will be selected at our next meeting. Dues are $5.

Most of the students were from last year, however, we had one new member. Welcome Joey Altermatt.

There is a newsletter posted at my school website and the chessnut website (link on right). Go see the Historical game, sodoku, problem of the week, news, tournament listings, and tips (I cannot upload a file here).

After watching Tyler practically leap out of his pants during a bughouse game after winning, I think sportsmanship/poise is going to be a focus this year.

Here is a complete list of planned tournaments for our club:

South SLC Scholastic, Nov. 7, SLC, Utah
Southern Idaho Open, Nov. 14 - 15, TF
Winter Scholastic, Dec. 5, WRHS
National Scholastic, Dec. 11 - 13, Dallas, Texas
WRHS Blitz & Bughouse Championship, Dec. 15 & 17
Scotch Tournament, Jan. 12 & 14, WRHS
Ruy lopez Tournament, Jan. 26 & 28, WRHS
West Jordan Scholastic, Jan. 30, West Jordan, Utah
Mid-winter Scholastic, Feb. 6, WRHS
Idaho Closed, Feb 13-15, Boise
ICA Girls Scholastic, Feb. 27, Boise
Spring Warmup, Mar. 6, WRHS
ICA Scholastic Championship, Mar. 20, Boise

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wood River Weekend 2009

Jeff Roland, Boise won the one section open tournament with 3.5 pts. out after four rounds of enjoyable chess in the Idaho Chess Association Wood River Weekend Swiss Open chess tournament in Hailey, Idaho. The tournament boasted 14 of the top competitors in the state of Idaho, and from the Wood River Valley. This tournament also attracted two tough opponents from Wyoming and Utah.

All eyes were on table one in the fourth round to see 15-time Idaho State Champion, Larry Parsons play twice and current Idaho State Champion, Garrett Reynolds. As the first moves unfolded, the spirit of the weekend overcame the competitiveness of the two state champions, and they decided to draw after 5 moves. This allowed Jeff Roland an opportunity to show his stuff in his final game against Wyoming competitor, Richard Cohen and take home a tournament win. Larry Parsons, Garrett Reynolds, and Jeff Baggett split the second prize winnings with 3 pts. a piece.

Some notable upsets occurred when Larry Parsons drew against Utah opponent, Doug Finch in a game that used the entire time. In the last round, Tyler Jaramillo scooped up a queen early in the game and won against his own chess coach, Adam Porth. Jeff Roland also obtained a draw against Garrett Reynolds in round 3 which seemed to set the tone of the fourth round for most competitors. Other impressive scores were obtained for two tournament newcomers and valley residents, Erwin Kett and Jeff Baggett. Both players won important games against experienced tournament players.

Four Wood River High Schoolers were among the mix and were very impressive to their opponents. Nick Bruck commented on how different the games were with longer time settings - 4 hour games! And Shane Bruess, Chris Ellis, and Tyler Jaramillo were very close to beating some of the experienced opponents. Richard Cohen said he had to be very careful.

The weekend included opportunities for the chess players to socialize outside of the competition room and play more chess just for fun. The Ketts served up German lunches for all the competitors and the Porths filled the house on Saturday evening for dinner. Richard Cohen awed the chess players with outstanding piano songs and magic tricks. Were it not for the social hours, the chess games might have been more merciless!

Thank you ICA, Jeff Roland, Barry Eacker for support of the tournament, and Lynnet Porth and Mr. & Mrs. Erwin Kett for housing, food, and encouragement to the chess players.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Eastern Idaho Open 2009

This tournament was a restful break from soccer coaching. Jay Simmonson always runs a smooth and enjoyable tournament. Tournament numbers were low, however, the quality of the games were very good. I won 4.5/5 pts. and took first place in the reserve section. The games are posted at: for those interested.

I started the tournament with an easy win against Gabriel Moffett, who is a tournament newcomer. I helped him along with recording and tried to provide some pointers as he moved way too fast for this type of tournament. I won with only 2 minutes off my clock in 10 moves! No I did not use a version of scholar's mate! My next game was against Katie Patterson(823) who played solidly until I played a discovered attack on her rook while simultaneously attacking her queen. She played out the game valiantly to the end and continued to harass me with her knight. I was hoping to play Kevin Patterson (1158) in the final round, but round 3 placed us across from one another and we played a rather fun game that produced a huge exchange which snagged me a rook for a bishop and a knight. Plus, I also received a much better position as he scrambled to get his queen-side pieces mobilized. On Sunday morning, after a nice big coffee and latte from the College Market, I began play with Doug Finch (1275), from Utah. I opened with Colle-Zuckertort, but ran into the same problem I had with Katie, with a knight that pushed my white bishop back to e2. We ended with opposite color bishops and a handful of pawns for a drawn game. Win, Lose, or Draw, I had already secured first place by round 5. I played Robert Diercks(1371)as white and unleashed the Colle-Zuckertort system, once again. A knight sacrifice removed his pawns guarding his castled king and all my pieces coordinated attacks that left poor Robert with naught but a queen, bishop, and knight left. I was disappointed in myself as I missed a mate on move 20. The game was won after move 30.

Overall, this was a welcomed reprieve from soccer, however, I couldn't resist seeing the men's ISU Bengals play BSU at Davis field in between rounds. Man, I love competition in soccer and chess!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chess and Reading

To sum up,"While most students in District 9 performed below the national average in reading skills, most chessplayers performed above the national average." and,"At the end of the year, [non-chessplayers] showed no gain in percentile ranking—while the chessplayers gained 5.7 percentiles!" Again, Why? The teachers "proclaimed" that chess enhanced confidence and ego, and that students that feel good about themselves read better. Then one should argue that any activity that enhances self-confidence should benefit the student. The study dd not compare other activities of children with chess-playing children. Maybe next time. The article continues, chess organizers believe "playing chess develops general intelligence, self-control, analytic skill, and increased ability to concentrate. Because of this, enhanced reading skills naturally follow." Again, a rather large leap without any other activities that foster the same skills, taken into account. Since the study did not distinguish between non-chess playing kids, the fact that chess had such gains is even more astounding, as the non-chess playing group probably had some kids active in other activities (i.e., music, athletics, art, etc.). This should wash out some of the differences. Whatever the reason, the observation that chess improves reading is clear. My own daughter was of reading concern by her teachers, with low IRI reading scores, however, after a year of chess, tournaments, and weekly chess games, she was rated as "advanced" for the state-mandated ISAT reading test scores. When I asked her why? She said that she was able to focus and was even the last one out of the test room. "I didn't feel like I was in a hurry".

Chess Helps People Learn

Reading chess research is very informative, however, their is plenty of room to study this in more detail. Why does chess improve reading? Math seems easier to explain, but reading?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Buy chess sets, chess pieces, chess boards, and more from Wholesale Chess. Expect guaranteed low prices and excellent customer service.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Why should you play more chess?

The research is conclusive. In fact, there is a lot of room for more research. Support chess! Please see this link to The Chess Nut Website and find PDF file at bottom of tutoring page (blogger doesn't upload files-only links).

PET Scan of the Chess Brain

PET scans allow scientists to identify specific brain areas that are activated by different tasks. Here researchers have used PET scans to identify the brain areas stimulated in the complex mental activities during a chess game (Nichelli and others, 1994). In scan (a), areas at the back of the brain, where visual information is processed, are most active when a player distinguishes between black and white chess pieces. In (b), the lower middle region of the brain is more active when a player is determining if a particular chess piece can capture another piece.*________________________________________
*Don Hockenbury and Sandra Hockenbury, Psychology, New York: Worth Publishers, 1997, p.68.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I am now an official blogger. Enjoy my other pages by locating "links" on the right side.

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