Thursday, March 17, 2011

State Scholastic Championship Participants and Preparations

Excitement has been brewing at our club, school, and chess players for the Idaho Scholastic Championship to begin on Saturday morning at Riverglen Junior High School in Boise.  I have been working as diligently (as time will allow me) at school with our high school participants and have also been taking time to help out our up-and-coming chess players.
Our up-and-coming elementary squad
Nick is by far the strongest and most practiced player in our program.  Our other participants have been shadows, in and out of club meetings and I hope they do well.  This is a crappy week to have a championship as we ended a trimester last week, took finals, and began new classes this week.  The tournament date is also the first day of spring break for our district.  I lost our number three player, Miles Hendrix, to a trip to Hawaii.  Hmm? 18-years old and faced with the decision, chess or bikinis?  I know what I'd choose . . . playing chess with bikinis!
This picture is for Miles, who chose Hawaii over chess.
I hope he bumps into Alexandra Kosteniuk on the beach and gets a few lessons!  (Have a great and safe trip.)
The seniors have also been distracted with senior projects which have become a big deal at our school.  We actually shut school down for senior presentations and hold a formal cake-and-punch mixer afterwards.  The students are not actually graded on the presentation, but victimized by narrow time constraints.  "Fail" for not making time (15-18 minutes).  Personally, I find that ridiculous but the students are given a second chance to present at a later date to "make time."  I told Nick to play a 1-minute blitz game for the panelists and that will give him the 40 more seconds he needed to avoid having to present again.
Nick's Senior Project:  Wood River Elementary School Championship
Max and Alex are occasional visitors to my room at lunch for some games and challenges and the middle schoolers have progressed each meeting.  Shane has been absent for nearly a month, but always seems to manage 3 points or so.  Andrew has been sick this week.  Curly finally committed to going just a few hours ago.

I have noticed that all of our players have strong openings and do well in the first 15 or so moves, and fair well in equalized end games, but struggle with combinations during the middle game.  Strategies and tactics are solid but calculations difficult.  We will strive to improve this during the coming year.  

As I am a high school teacher, I have a tough time reaching our other participants and families, however I was pleasantly surprised when 5th grader, Spencer, visited our home tonight to practice with Dylan.  This gave me a great opportunity to work with him one-on-one.  I showed him the Scotch, Philidor's Defense, and how to avoid the Scholar's Mate.  I also shared some of the various, but safe lines.

Overall, I am proud of our program's growth.  This will be the first year that I have been able to field a full middle school and elementary team and I am positive that the results will be very good.   

Wood River High School Team
1.      Nick Bruck, 12th
2.      Max Mihalic, 9th
3.      Shane Bruess, 12th
4.      Chris Ellis, 12th
5.      Andrew Uriarte, 12th
6.      Alex Bates, 12th
7.      Chase Hutchinson, 9th

Wood River Middle School Team
8.      Desmond Porth, 8th grade
9.      Jake Whitlock, 8th
10.  Quinn Gilman, 8th
11.  Kyle Mungall, 8th
12.  Riley Clark, 8th
13.  Real Weatherly, 8th
14.  Riley Neel, 8th

Bellevue Elementary School Team
15.  Colten Weatherly, 5th grade
16. Victor Saldivia, 5th
17.  Darwin Porth, K
18.  Dylan Porth, 5th
19.  Spencer Neel, 5th

Wish these folks luck in their competition on Saturday!  

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