Thursday, April 28, 2011

Travels with the Chess Club

Sweet Mother of Mary!  What a wacky day!  Leaving the Wood River Valley at 3 am to drive 2 1/2 hours to Boise to catch a flight is crazy enough, but holy Toledo . . .

Dodging herds of elk and and the occasional mule deer with 6 sleeping and unsuspecting chess players, we arrived safely at the Boise airport.  We got our tickets, made it through the TSA, and waited patiently to board the plane.  Shane dropped his ticket and was paged by the TSA to retrieve it.  I begged the officials to take Shane and search him in the back room as negative reinforcement, but they refused.

In our Denver connection to Dallas/Ft. Worth, they happened to have a direct flight to Nashville in the gate next door.  Of course the kids began grilling me because our itinerary allowed for a 4 hour lay over in Dallas.  The hymning and hawing began in earnest.  Remember the Mall fiasco in West Jordan?  I was hoping to get some last minute practicing in during that time, but it became clear that I needed to ask if they could switch us to the direct flight.  It doesn't hurt to ask, or does it?

The clerk said possible but I would need approval at the Service Center.  So I ran (literally) a half a mile down to the service center to inquire and they said that it would be fine as long as I could get booked in time.  Latte spilling and armpits wet with determination, I ran back to the Nashville desk, who then sent me to the Dallas desk to switch the tickets.  Time was becoming of essence . . . So we were all removed from the passenger list on the Dallas flight and given coupons (but not tickets!) for the Nashville flight.  Hey, this would cut nearly 6 hours of travel, some of the kids could enter the blitz tournament, and it seemed like a good idea, right?  Andrew is wrestling with Miles on the floor when I return with the good news.

Back at the Nashville desk . . . the agent was unable to remove a block from adding passengers and ticketing us and said we'd have to go on our original flight.  Now I am stressed and struggling to avoid an aneurysm.  Back at the Dallas desk . . . the dude tried to put us on the flight BUT THEIR COMPUTERS WOULD NOT add anymore passengers because they just started boarding.  Holy . . . we missed the flight!  O.K. so get us on the next one.  "Only six can go and the other would have to go a bit later."   Okay.  FINE!  I was beginning to think one should not ask logical questions!  "Oops, sorry sir, the last seat was taken while we were talking.  We can get you to Nashville from Dallas tomorrow morning?"  Egads!  My downturned brow is now wrinkled and I feel like I just lost an easy endgame. I convinced myself that this is all my fault and I shouldn't be upset. There is plenty of time and we can sit around in a hotel in Nashville, or Dallas as easily.  A moment later the clerk says, "there we go, a seat just opened!"  A sigh of relief and we spent our lay-over in Denver instead of Dallas and were back on the original itinerary.  The direct flight to Nashville forgotten like a bad grade.  Nick and Des play a game on the floor while waiting, and the others sit and kibitz until Nick and Des are too disturbed to play further.

On our way in, the clerk says, "those are not very good seats."   He was right,  the very back, no reclining, no leg room, no place for our carry-ons, the windows are blocked by the jet engines, and noise like a t.v. at 3 am.  Maybe the white noise will help us focus better tomorrow?  Alex asked Miles if he could touch his beard that he began focusing on.  Slap!  "This is like traveling with a bunch of brothers," says Miles.  We are giddy with fatigue.

At our original time (7 pm), we arrived at the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center and suddenly forgot how worn out we were.  The place is grand and the boys began taking pictures immediately.  Sculptures, paintings, waterfalls, flowers, palm trees, and other charming accoutrement's adorned the palatial building that has as much square footage as the city of Bellevue, and possibly Hailey.  Chess players of all ages, races, and creeds   were already gallivanting through the gardens and islands of restaurants.

Shane and Alex indicate that the furthest east traveled was Montana and are in awe of our trip already.  All students should have to embark on a trip such as this. The team's awkwardness in the Boise airport has disappeared and they now look like comfortable travelers.

We made our way to the Blitz room in time to see a speedy game being finished with several TDs surrounding the players.  The younger player is hyperventilating and has tears streaming over his face.  I overheard a TD saying that instead of pausing the clock to ask a question, the player shut the clock off and they were going to forfeit him since he did not even know what times were left on the clock.  After much discussion, an agreement was reached and the compromising player ended up losing to the frantic opponent that messed up the clock and the times.  The TD should have forfeited him.  I cannot help but think this was a ploy for personal gain.  My players just watch and look thoughtful.  I am excited for them.  They are about to face challenges they have never experienced.


  1. What an experience!!! Thanks or writing about it. C.P.


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