Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Third Year In West Jordan

The journey was a long one.  Nearly five hours on the bus with 8 eager chess players!  Lynnet drove the six middle school boys in our car.  We began our Salt Lake City tournament with a trip to the Clark Planetarium where half of our group watched a laser show in the dome and the other half watched the Green Hornet on a five-story IMAX in 3d.  I designed a very busy schedule to avoid sword purchasing and rock climbing, and any other trouble like our previous trips.  We ended late and went back to the hotel where everyone went immediately to sleep.  My evil plan worked.  Now I hoped that they would get enough sleep to play well on Saturday morning.
We're sleepy already
The Green Hornet
Some of the middle schoolers

Our teams included:
WRHS - Nick Bruck, Andrew Uriarte, Miles Hendrix, Shane Bruess, and Nicole Lichtenberg.  All 12th graders.
WRMS - Desmond Porth, Riley Neel, Hunter Frye, Jake Whitlock, Riley Clark, and Quin Gilman.  All 8th graders.
Elementary - Dylan Porth and Colten Weatherly, 5th graders, and Darwin Porth, Kindergarten.

Douglas Duncan, the tournament organizer and TD, recognized us immediately.  For the past three years our team has fared well in Ogden and in West Jordan, and we were anticipating another successful tournament.  All of my players agreed that this tournament was a bit tougher than the previous ones and the team results demonstrated that - we won by only 1 point in the high school section and the middle school won second place.

I think we were up too late for the first round.  We sleepily scored 3.5 pts. in high school section and 2.0 pts. in middle school section with very little enthusiasm.  It seemed like the round went fast as I didn't even have time to get my latte from down the block.  I took orders for Round 2.  During round 2, I went shopping at the one chess vender and bought 2,500 chess titles on six dvds for $25.  This vender had pdf scans of whole books!  Both teams brought home 4 pts. and I was suspecting a positive ending to the day.

The high school section had 41 players with 14 high schools participating and the middle school/junior high school section had 51 players and 15 schools.  The tournament rival appeared to be Salt Lake City High School.  Dylan and Colten were competing for individual prizes against 60 kids in their section, including 21 5th graders.  This was Colten's first competition after starting with our group only two weeks ago and he was thoroughly enjoying and absorbing everything.


Darwin (2.0 pts.) was competing for the kindergarten prize against two other children, but was in the K-3 section.  Many tournament organizers lump the kindergarteners with second and third graders.  There is a huge difference in the games.   Kissy-kings, pawing at pieces, balancing them on top of one another, making bishop aeroplanes (with sound effects), and other creativities.  After I watched an embarrassing first round performance by Darwin, I reminded him as gently as a father could to follow tournament protocols and etiquette, and proceeded to feel badly about it.  Thankfully, Lynnet and Desmond were there to rescue him and to reinforce "what dad said."  Darwin continued his tournament with renewed focus, vigor, and more importantly, seriousness.  He even felt prouder of his win when beating a first grader and exclaimed, "I beat a fiiirrrrst gwader!" .  He ended up winning first place in the Kindergarten section and a trophy for being the youngest player and he was very happy and confident.
Rock Out Buddy!

Quin Gilman
Our other tournament newcomers included Nicole Lichtenberg(0 pts.) and Quin Gilman(1.5 pts).  Quin looked sort of panicked and slightly stressed each round, but gradually relaxed and earned 1.5 pts. in the last two rounds.  I felt bad when the adrenalin of the day produced horrible stomach cramps for him later that evening.  Nothing could get Colten down.  I could see the wheels in his head already preparing for next year.  Riley Clark, despite having participated in the Winter Solstice, is still developing as a chess player.  She is now able to play openings safely and looked developed and solid every time I checked on her.  I think showing the "ideal" opening board helps kids learn the value of the various named openings.  Combinations are still a mystery for her, however.
An Ideal White Position
Riley Clark
Nicole Lichtenberg
Nicole did not win any games, but was learning much from the tactics that kept her pieces (and her suitors) at bay.  She told me that "a guy finally hit on her" during her game in round 4.  Now I know why there are female only tournaments!  "I am losing to all of nature's mutations!" she exclaimed.  Nicole is an outstanding debater and found chess tournaments to be a very different experience.

Alex Bates with the lucky hat
Nick Bruck
Nick(4.0 pts.) was the only student that recorded any games.  I hope to post some tomorrow when he brings the score sheets to school.  He went undefeated with three wins and two draws.  Alex(3.0 pts.) commented that you really need to have the "right spirit" while playing as he snagged his third point in the final round.  Andrew quiped, "or the right skill . . ."  With more practice, Shane Bruess(3.0 pts.) could get over the hump of the end game.  Nick was watching Shane's game and they performed a wonderful post-game show for me of Shane's game that I wish I could share.  Arm's flailing, slammed pieces, voices speedily rising in pitch, and their confidence in analysis, building like a tornado.
Andrew Uriarte
Andrew's (4.0 pts.) fifth round game was the epic event of the day, with Salt Lake City claiming poor sportsmanship and stomping off to pout as teenagers will do.  Andrew continually played his games out to the bitter end on the board and on the clock.  During the last two rounds he ran into time trouble, but played the endgame like a master against his opponents who were a pawn or two up each time.  Under the pressure of time, Andrew capitalized on their mistakes and obtained additional time for illegal moves.  In game 5, Andrew only had seconds left with his opponent having minutes.  They moved into check and Andrew coolly obtained two more minutes.  In a moment, an additional two more minutes during the next move for the same mistake.  Flustered, his opponent botched a pawn move and Andrew ended with another win in a "losing position."
Miles enjoying the competitiveness of chess with me
Miles Hendrix
Andrew Uriarte and the lucky hat
Andrew's win might have secured certain team victory, but Miles(4.5 pts.) was the man to beat after his first round draw - his games only got better.  This was his first tournament outside of our group and he won 1st place overall in the high school section.  He is a debater with Nicole and the captain of the debate team - he frequently misses weekend tournaments with us in lieu of debate tournaments, but has developed into a strong player, like Nick and Andrew.  After one game, he had the pasty mouth of adrenalin as he explained his lousy position and how he got out of it.
Desmond Porth
Dylan Porth

Desmond(4.0 pts.) was going for a perfect tournament score as he entered the last round.  Everyone was routing for him and Desmond was a bit nervous.  As I watched the game progress, I truly thought he had it won - he was a piece up and ready to promote.  But he moved to the wrong side of the rook to avoid perpetual check (which his opponent was desperately trying to obtain) and suddenly a pawn appeared and mated him.  Desmond told me he could not believe it as he never knew that pawn was even there.  He confided in me that he thought the kid dropped the pawn on the board from the graveyard.  I really don't think Desmond is one to create a fantasy like this and I have watched kids cheat in the Ogden and West Jordan tournaments regularly. We will watch closer next time.
Reilly Neel
Reilly Neel (4.0 pts.) learned the Colle-Zuckertort after his first round loss and won every game after that.  My goal for Reilly is to play slower and not make so many pawn moves in the opening.  "Develop and have patience for the game to settle.  Don't attack without adequate support or development (like Miles and me sometimes!)."  I think he finally heeded my words and met with success.  The middle school team ended with second place.

Darwin, Riley, Dylan and the Bellevue Bear
I really noticed the positive aspects of mixed ages at this tournament.  The caring, support, and interest the players had with one another made me proud to be their coach and friend.  And of course, the kids love the trophies:

WRHS, 1st place trophy
WRMS, 2nd place trophy

Darwin Porth(2.0), 1st place and youngest player
Dylan Porth(3.0), trophy
Colten Weatherly(2.0), medal

Desmond Porth(4.0), 2nd place
Reilly Neel(4.0), 3rd place
Jake Whitlock(3.0), 5th place trophy
Riley Clark(2.5), medal
Hunter Frye(2.0), medal
Quin Gilman(1.5), medal

Miles Hendrix(4.5), 1st place
Andrew Uriarte(4.0), 2nd place
Nick Bruck(4.0), 3rd place
Shane Bruess(3.0), trophy
Alex Bates(3.0), trophy
Nicole Lichtenberg(0.0), medal
The WRHS Team

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