Sunday, January 31, 2010

WR Wins for Second Time!

Wood River High School wins the West Jordan Scholastic Chess Tournament for the second year in a row.  The games and tournaments keep getting better.  Of eleven Wood River students, ten earned hardware and our team won first place.  The event is run by Douglas Duncan and has grown to a  larger event attracting over 200 players from the Salt Lake City area.  In fact, I counted 17 elementary schools, 11 middle schools, and 12 high schools represented.  The elementary section (4-6th grade) had 54 competitors, the middle school (6-9th grade) had 60 competitors and the high school section (9-12th grade) had 42 players.  The remaining numbers were in the K-3 section.

Round 1 began with eight wins for the Wood River group and it got serious pretty quick.  Desmond's aggressive attitude the previous day now clear - he was on a mission this tournament.  Nick Bruck and Max Bates made quick victories and showed no concern for where they were going to end up.  "How'd you do?" I asked.  "Euh" was the shrug.  Chris "Curly" Ellis came off his board quite disheveled and didn't quite know what happened to his game other than being completely destroyed by Matt Boren of Salt Lake.  Andrew Uriarte played out a long game and went down in the end game.

Round 2 produced seven more wins.  It was clear that Nick, Max, Raleigh Grossbaum, were going to be our top boards.  They were playing very well.  Curly, Shane Bruess, or Andrew would be our 4th.  Dylan played an even game against Vishwa Srinivasan and his MONROI scoresheet until the end game and she lost.  I began scouting the competition in the high school section and noticed that the SLC students tended to play very fast and so I began encouraging our group to play slower and disrupt their opponent's momentum.  Matt Boren was going to be a tough competitor, but he played too fast and usually got his opponent in a rhythm that he commanded.  Riley Neel was the first one off the board and won by advancing his pawn up to his opponent's pawn line and dropped his queen on the f7 square for a mate in the first 10 moves.  Andrew and Shane began asking about food.  I left to get a latte.  When I came back, there were four pizza boxes on our table.  In typical goom-ba fashion, when the pizzas arrived at the concessions, my boys bought all of them, leaving chips and candybars for the rest of the tournament folk!

Round 3 was our most entertaining round with ten wins.  Shane was the last one on the board as he opened by playing to fast and then slowed down to the point were the tournament director put a clock on their board.  Almost all the high schooler section was around the board to see Shane's end game.  In the opening, Shane dropped a queen, a rook, and two pawns with little to no compensation.  Shane's opponent must have become over confident.  The next time I looked Shane had equalized.  In the end game, I watched Shane skewer a rook and ooze confidence all over the board for a win.  Too bad his opponent didn't throw the king like Irina Krush.  It would have been dramatic.  Shane popped up and sailed over to our area with his arms waving around like long vines.  I was with Nick and Andrew and said, "Wow, look at Shane's arms flailing, he's playing out his game . . . no wait, that's pizza he is holding."  Andrew said, "you over-estimated Shane."  In a strong game (and the only recorded game), Raleigh played against Matt Boren who offered a draw in a pawn-bishop end game.  Raleigh took it. Matt latter told me he would have won.  Raleigh said to me latter he would have won.  Nick analyzed the game with Raleigh and provided a great piece of advice and made me very proud what my players are beginning to pay attention to.  "You needed to promote your dark-square pawn since he has a white-square bishop."  A subtle piece of advice but these players are thinking beyond tactics and developing strategic thinking.  Desmond solved the rubik's cube this round for the first time by himself.

In Round 4, Riley's opponent sat at the wrong board.  Riley was thrilled that the tournament director switched the boards and had them start over with the correct opponent.  "I was losing bad and down 14 pts. and then switched opponents and won in 8 moves."  How fortunate for Riley!  Shane's arms began flailing again as he described his checkmate to me with more pizza in hand.  Nick, Desmond, and Max earned 4 pts. and were all headed for perfect tournament scores.  Nick and Max will have to play one another in round 5 and Des watched and studied his round 5 opponent, whom he thought was the middle schooler with a beard and a deep voice.  It turned out to be the little 7th grader with 4 pts. instead.  Dylan finds friends everywhere and I found her playing with another little girl on the floor with her pink chess set.  "Let's go run," Dylan asked her buddy.  "Not in the tournament room," I reminded them. The high schoolers all began surmising and calculating possible outcomes to the tournament as they usually do in Round 4.  Meanwhile, I watched another high school team play x-box games on a flat screen television, they hauled into the skittles area.  Yes a flat screen television and modern warfare.  I hope my team doesn't get any ideas!  Nine wins and a sizable team lead, 4 points.

Our Prophet Mohammed Taylor Walton indicates "In life and in chess you must think like a king."  The final round was going to be exciting. Desmond is playing on the first middle school board, Nick is playing Max on the first board in the high school section.  The WRMS team needs three wins to secure 1st or 2nd place.  Raleigh will win first if he wins or if Shane wins against his 10th grade opponent.  Max, Nick, and Des could get on our "Perfect Tournament" plaque.   We have already won the high school trophy.  Going into the last round, we have players on the top 6 boards.  Collectively, we lost every fifth round game except for one!

WRHS (15.5) 1st Place Team
WRMS (9.0) 4th Place Team
Max Bates (5.0), Perfect Tournament, 1st Place 12th grade
Jake Whitlock (2.0), 1st Place 6th grade
Desmond Porth (4.0), 2nd Place 7th grade
Raleigh Grossbaum (3.5), 2nd Place 10th grade
Nick Bruck (4.0), 2nd Place, 11th grade

3pt. Trophies:
Andrew Uriarte
Chris Ellis
Shane Bruess (first trophy ever!)
Riley Neel
Dylan Porth

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Storm Before the Calm - West Jordan Chess Tournament

It is good that I remind myself each year of the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of taking a bus load of kids to weekend tournaments.  I spent the day teaching my classes and listening to some students complain about how hard their Friday quizzes were or playing chess games with various students fantasizing about this weekend and forgetting their quizzes.  Maybe it's interest or envy, but the enthusiasm of the WRHS chess team going to a tournament inspires novices and non-chess players, as well as the chess team at our school.  That makes me happy and provides the team with confidence.  We need a surplus of this for our long trek to Salt Lake City.

The long bus ride certainly takes its toll on enthusiasm, though the trip was mostly uneventful.  Nick and Raleigh spent the Burley to Tremerton leg first discussing, then bickering, then arguing about the metaphysics and implications of light coming from stars.  A futile and feverish exercise in the art of persuasion.  In the end, it almost came to blows.  Andrew continued Desi's rubik's cube education.  The rest of our middle school team, Riley and Jake, quietly observed how high schoolers debate and interact in close quarters like they were attending a self-defense class.  After Tremerton came the dreaded Ogden leg where each of the eleven chess players began asking "when are we going to get there? is there another bathroom break?  can we stop and get something to eat?" and never paying attention to my answers to previous individuals' questions.  I began entertaining myself by supplying different answers to each player.

Finally, the outskirts of Salt Lake City!  Shane began wrestling with Curly and Andrew so I had a difficult time with the rear end of the bus.  But, my strategy was to fatigue them with museum displays while we waited for a classic rock laser show to begin at 10 pm.  I brought them immediately to the Planetarium in downtown Salt Lake City.  Or should I say, Sanitarium?   Raleigh started climbing a stone wall  on a building and ripped a bunch of bricks down.  They crashed on the sidewalk while I tried to look like I wasn't with the group of teens.  My excitement for the weekend tournament is almost as fully dislodged as the bricks.  My devious and subversive plan ironically worked, however.  By the time we arrived at the Holiday Inn Express, all of the kids wanted into their rooms like my dogs wanting in from the yard for the night.  Surprisingly, Raleigh ended up in the room with Nick.

Who knows if they'll sleep tonight . . .x-boxes and laptops heating up as I type.  But if my memory serves me correctly, they will play tough and successful games as last year's West Jordan tournament.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday Chess Club

Large group tonight with 25 kids!  In fact, students are starting to bring their friends as we had 5 guests.  Desmond, Jake, and Stephen engaged the new chess players with tutorials on basic chess moves.  Our resident rubik's cube guru, Jasen also helped others in their games.  Raleigh taught Julia some new moves, as well.  And Curly worked with Jake and Dylan.  One of our new guests also taught his friends how the pieces moved, while I worked on Shane and with another guest.  I am very proud of our students and the kind of activity our club is generating.  We were even mentioned in the pep assembly today (with a little nudge from me).

Andrew, Curly, Shane, Desmond, Dylan, Max, Taylor, and Jake also prepared for this weekend.  Shane and Desmond played a quick game, with Desi's castled king getting mated with a queen guarded by a bishop.   With a bit of chastising about focusing and getting serious, Des played another quick game against Shane and set up a similar mate in response.  Oh those boys . . .  Much of the chatter during the games hinged on the sleeping accommodations and how salty my last batch of popcorn was.

If all goes well in travel, I am planning on taking all the kids to the Clark Planetarium for a show using our concessions earnings.  Look forward to news update this weekend, a cookie dough fund-raiser, a new newsletter, and some February tournaments.

Upcoming tournaments include: 
Feb. 13-15 ICA Idaho Closed
Feb. 23, Twin Falls Invitational
Feb. 27,  ICA Girl's State
March 6, Idaho Chess Union Twin Falls Championship
March 13, Spring Warmup
March 20, ICA Scholastic Championship
April - May WRHS Championship
May 5, Cinco de Mayo

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Chess Club

16 kids came to chess club tonight.  2 guests and 1 new recruit.  It was wonderful to see one of our newest members, Emmett, teaching the new boy how to play chess.  Desmond graciously showed him how to avoid Scholar's Mate after he beat him by it.  Lesson learned . . .I guess.  Max brought a guest and then used some training equipment to teach his friend how to play - a nice and quiet game.  I took it upon myself to help Miles learn about the Caro-Kann, however, played him out to a draw in a game I should have won.  My next two games were losses to Nick while Taylor made beat box sounds over our game and numerous kids interrupting our game.  I think Nick is too tough to play in a distracted atmosphere and I will continue him during my prep only.  In this way we will accomplish more and I can save some face without the numerous blunders and miscalculations while answering questions, diverting bickering, popping corn, and watching for shinanygans. Nick is invariably one of our top players

Our club will head to West Jordan this weekend to play in a scholastic tournament on Saturday.  The hotel is not near any cuttlery outlets, so I anticipate no nunchuck or sword purchases this year, however, I think there might be a Home Depot nearby.  Who knows what they might buy this time?   Nick, Andrew, Curly, Taylor, Max, and Shane will be in the high school section.  I am still trying to get one more middle school student to have a 3 person team in that section.  4 would be ideal.  Otherwise, Jake and Desmond will have to be it.  Dylan is our lone elementary representative.  A great big thank you to Sam Schroeder and Charley Miller for their donation to help members get to the tournament.
1st Place, West Jordan 2009

Any wayward chess-clubber is welcome to help me raise money for the club by running the wrestling concessions tomorrow night.  Meet at 4:00 pm at the concessions after school.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thursday Chess Club

Welcome new members:  Raleigh Grosbaum & Stephen Poklemba!

Our club has attracted two supporters:  Mr. and Mrs. Layne Jensen.  We would like to thank you for you donation of a new popcorn machine.  We tried it out tonight and made some great popcorn to go with our great games.

The most notable game was between Nick Bruck and Raleigh Grosbaum.  Raleigh and Nick played a very thoughtful game that attracted several spectators as they began an endgame of pawns and opposite color bishops.  I have noticed that Nick's game has moved to a higher level as he is able to envision and calculate possibilities further along.  He is beginning to create opportunities and is utilizing more strategy than tactics.  In fact, he positioned his king in the best possible place to end a pawn run down the g- & h-file by Raleigh and successfully set up a draw game after being down a piece.  Everyone was able to learn about "Insufficient losing chance" rules and "3-move repetition" rulings.  I am beginning to be very envious of my students and their leaps in chess.  I wish I could make those kind of gains.  Great job, guys!

The ICA Novice Tournament is coming up this next Saturday.  I am going to register Darwin in this.  Jason also expressed interest.  In two weeks (Jan. 30), we are headed to Salt Lake City for the West Jordan tournament.  Be sure to get the proper permissions in order to participate.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday Chess Club - the guessing game

The Scotch tournament did not come together (probably due to grades coming out this week) and the club started out fairly quiet, however it became a game show with 8 contenders vying for a candy bar and the other 8 engaged quietly in games. We played out a grandmaster game by trying to predict each move. Each player received 1 point for a correct answer. We began by setting up a board, each move was announced after the players made a predicted move and the move was then displayed on a teaching board. They raised their hands if they had a correct answer. Points were distributed and appropriate chess smack was offered by the contenders.

Of course, the game was not without shinanigans by yours truly. I used a display board to show the grandmaster moves, however, I moved a piece to the wrong spot and the next 10 or so moves were without logic (with a knight sitting next to a pawn and white refusing to move it and black refusing to take it), and the lesson kaput! In the end, the exercise offered much enthusiasm with cheers and high-fives for correct answers. Liam and Raleigh were happy to take and split their prize, however, after one and a half hours of the workout, the candy bar had melted while sitting on my printer! Liam and Raleigh tied with 25 correct answers in the 37 move game. Great job to all!

The game I selected was Magnus Carlsen (NOR) v. Alexander Grischuk (RUS).  Magnus Carlsen, 19, is currently the highest FIDE ranked player at 2810.  Source here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Game from my archives

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

2010 New Year Blitz G/10

I was thrilled to play chess over break and even played in a G/10 Blitz tournament. The purpose of tournaments is to challenge, compete, and educate oneself and I certainly did that. I primarily used the Colle-Zukertort system with fair success, however in my first game against Fred Bartell, I stepped out of the system unknowingly and he was able to zap my knight on f3 and removed one of my pawn guards on g2. My whole king side then opened up and he scooped up my rook with his other bishop. Game over!

Game 2 vs. Barry Eacker: egads! This was my swiftest loss in years. It is good to play friends that don't embarrass you too much over such a poor performance. Never play a new opening you haven't had time to explore in detail. I will put the Dutch on the shelf until I know what the hell I'm doing. Barry mated me with something akin to the Fool's mate. I think I felt like some of my students after playing me! I had plenty of time to upload coffee to regain my equilibrium.

Another notable game was with Barry's son, David. I don't think sons should be better than their fathers! At least I ran out of time in this game. The best game of the day, and the best chess lesson, came in Round 11. I hung my queen on a knight fork (oh . . . about move 10). Louise Felice then used his queen to obliterate my pawns and a minor piece, pinning others while I scrambled for any position of consequence. Greed took over and I offered him another "free" pawn . . .(scoop). . . (wham). . . I slammed my rook down like a WWF superstar and stood up over the board like a prize fighter. Back-rank mate and 9 seconds left on my clock. Chess is rough and I was not about to be gracious about it.

I ended a very enjoyable round-robin tournament with 6 wins, 4 losses, and a bye - 7.0 pts. and 5th place. Blitz fires up the soul and I soon found myself craving a double-round-robin. I sure could have played chess all day.

A big thank you to Barry Eacker for another outstanding experience. Results are at at the Idaho Chess Union webpage.

Erwin gets his Visa!

Here is a letter I wrote on their behalf:

November 25, 2009

Dear Sir/Maam:
I am a high school science teacher at Wood River High School, a parent, and a member of the Wood River Valley, Idaho. I am concerned that our community is about to lose two valuable assets: Erwin Kett and Marlis Kett. Ewin and Marlis are Hailey, Idaho residents since 2000 and contribute immensely to the communities, families, and children in our small valley. They wish to continue to live here and everyone in this community hopes they can.

Erwin is very patriotic and fully participates in our 4th of July festivities. He even looks like Uncle Sam when he is dressed in his red-white-and-blue costume with a star-spangled top hat. Families and visitors to our parade will miss pictures with our Uncle Sam. He dresses up as Santa Clause and Marlis dresses up as Mrs. Clause every year, as well. They visit numerous schools and community events as the Clause’s. In fact, they are visible components in all our major holidays.

When I was a cub scout leader, Erwin helped us raise money and helped whenever he could. In fact, he and his wife regularly visits pre-schools, elementary schools, and the high school to offer his services and good will. I have witnessed him helping children with social, academic, and financial situations that model good citizenship and positive “grandfatherly” friendship. He really cares about children and the community and their growth and development. Visitors to the Wood River Valley will be upset to know that the United States is not allowing Erwin to obtain a visa.

More importantly, Erwin is my co-advisor for the high school chess club for the past 3 years. He has mentored numerous teenagers in this successful program and financially sponsors many of the at-risk youths that cannot afford to participate in chess events. Our two state chess championships may not even have occurred without his help! This program runs twice a week for the entire school year for 2 hours after school. Erwin does not miss any of these meetings, and if he is even slightly tardy, students are asking “Where is Erwin?” Everybody wants Erwin to stay in our community.

I have paid many social visits to their house in Hailey with my family. Invariably, neighbors and other guests are always present and enjoying their hospitality.

I do not claim to understand the immigration rules, however, Erwin and Marlis are exactly the individuals that our country desires and needs. They are selfless, productive, and contributing seniors that deserve to be able to retire in the Wood River Valley or at least visit when they are able to. It is my hope that the United States government will feel this way, too.


Adam Porth

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Desmond's Round 3 Game K-12 National Scholastic Championship

[Event "2009 K-12 National Scholastic Championship"]
[Site "Dallas, Texas"]
[Date "12/12/2009"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Desmond Porth"]
[Black "Vikram Pattabi"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "440"]
[BlackElo "812"]
[TimeControl "G/90"] 
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Bc5 3. Nxe5 Nc6 4. Nxc6 bxc6 5. Bc4 Bd6 6. Nc3 Be5 7. d4 Bd6 8. d5 cxd5 9. Qxd5 Qf6 10. Qxa8 Qd8 11. Qxa7 Ne7 12. Bg5 O-O 13. O-O h6 14. Bh4 Nc6 15. Bxd8 Nxa7 16. Bh4 Nc6 17. a4 Nb4 18. Nd5 Nxd5 19. Bxd5 Ba6 20. Rfe1 Re8 21. Bg3 Bxg3 22. fxg3 c6 23. Ba2 Re5 24. Bb1 d5 25. Rd1 dxe4 26. c3 {game notes are wrong after this. But you get the idea.} 1-0

Friday, January 1, 2010

Desmond's Round 1 Game K-12 National Chess

[Event "2009 K-12 National Scholastic Championships"]
[Site "Dallas, Texas"]
[Date "2009.12.11"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Desmond, 440"]
[Black "Liam Glass, 1508"]
[Result "0-1"]

1. e4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Bd3 dxe4 4. Bxe4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bg4 6. O-O e6 7. h3 Bh5 8. Qe1 Bb4 9. Nb5 O-O 10. Qe2 Nxe4 11. Qxe4 Bxf3 12. Qxf3 cxb5 13. Qxb7 Qb6 14. Qe4 Nc6 15. a3 Bc5 16. d3 Nd4 17. b4 Be7 18. Be3 Bf6 19. c3 Ne2+ 20. Kh1 Nxc3 21. Qxa8 Rxa8 22. Bxb6 axb6 23. Rfc1 Ne2 24. Re1 Bxa1 25. Rxe2 Rxa3 26. Rd2 Be5 27. Rd1 Ra1 28. Rxa1 Bxa1 29. Kg1 Bc3 30. Kf1 Kf8 31. Ke2 Ke7 32. Kd1 Kd6 0-1

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