Monday, July 11, 2011

2011 Summer Classic Rounds 4-5: Tales from the Reserve Section

95 years of separation.
One of the greatest things about chess is the interaction of different generations and and age classes.  It became apparent to me when I was looking at the variety of players in the Summer Classic Tournament.  There is an age span of 95 years displayed in the group photograph!  Nearly a century of separation between the youngest and oldest players.  This offers chess tournaments and organizers challenges, and requires patience and toleration of the players.

Breathing in surround sound
Tournament etiquette can sometimes be turned upside down by the various players and the Tournament Directors have to straddle a fence to preserve the fun for some participants and the seriousness for others.  During my round 4 game against Gary Hollingsworth (see rounds 1-3), I noticed an elderly gentlemen's breathing pattern in another game across the room.  As I struggled to maintain focus, the rhythmic breathing began to sound like Darth Vader in surround sound.  Definitely something you can't and shouldn't complain about.   A bit later, another gentlemen always brings munchies that he will tear into about an hour into the game.  Riiipp!  The crunching sound of the grocery bag and the wrappers then become sporadic as the munching sounds now echoed across the small room.

With such a variety of persona, it is easy to spot the loud families.  Some people are unable to whisper (especially kids, with their robust diaphragms!) and yet others speak loudly because they can't hear so well (the older crowd).  The one good thing about bad hearing is that you can turn your hearing aide off when playing in a tournament.  There will always be occasional voices when there is a blunder.  And, everyone in the room will crane their head to see what happened.
This is why some people insist on listening to music during tournament play.  This tends to be at the Tournament Director's discretion.  In Idaho, some allow it and some don't.  Sometimes players can ruin the privileges for others as one man listened to a symphony that I could "sing along" to.  I prefer Deadmau5, but invariably, I model good behavior and refrain from the zune (microsoft's ipod).
Some players like to listen to music while they play (more to drown out other distractions  than anything else).

With the youngsters playing and learning etiquette (I like the "brush your teeth rule"), toleration can be very difficult.  It is clear to me when a child is more concerned about his rating than the actual game he is playing by what they say (and how often they say it).  One little guy will always offer a draw (draw etiquette link)  in the quality of voice that is like whispering in a megaphone every time his game takes a bad turn.  It was cute when the little boy offered a draw when Kevin Patterson went a piece up, but every turn after that?  He began to beg for a draw.  I had to restrain myself from turning around and saying "resign or play your game!"  This is one of the scholastic drawbacks - rating fever.  Kevin was a good sport.
Gary from Pokey
Here is my round 4 game against Gary Hollingsworth.  There is a Draw lesson in this game.  I accepted the draw offer by Gary after 15 minutes of consideration.  Fritz gave me a slight advantage, but I was a little too concerned about the h-file pawn to continue play and I would have to prove my bishop was worth his huge pawn majority.  Plus, Gary and Jamie (each with 3.0 pts. as well) both had easier pairings going into round 5 than I was to have.

Unfortunately, I had to sit next to the same boy while Jamie Lang had a go.  While looking at the pairing sheets, I told Jamie to please win quickly.  Jamie won a piece and the draw offers commenced but the little guy seemed to have Vaseline on his king and the game continued longer than I hoped.  He was getting bored and made a pyramid out of the pawns he had taken from Jamie and then knocked them over onto the table.  I finally said something when he was holding onto the table so he could rock better in his chair while shaking his Pepsi.  Our table shimmied and I began to feel like I was playing on a boat!  Thankfully, my round 5 game was not affected by all the distractions offered and I played the shortest tournament game (seven moves!) against Kevin Patterson and I tied for 1st place with 4.0 points.  E4 G4 is not an opening I am likely to play!
Chess is a spectator sport as Kevin watches his daughter Emily play.
In these cases, someone should not have to complain.  Players should know better and TDs should also be cognizant of the playing environment for everyone in the room.  But, in the end, as chess players ultimately know, tournaments are a test of patience and comfort level.  If each tournament pair played their game in an isolated, sound proof room, I probably wouldn't go to tournaments.  Nor would anyone else.  The pleasure is derived from being around a large group of chess enthusiasts from different ages and diverse lifestyles.  Being able to look into their sympathetic eyes when there is a disturbance, smile, and move your game forward with unsaid camaraderie and the knowledge that someday it was you or someday it will be you creating the ruckus.
Idaho chess hero, Glen Buckendorf

1 comment:

  1. Hey! I can only guess how difficult it might be to concentrate with kids making extra noise on top of trying to make sure that you dont hang your queen. Sounds like a nice tourney nonetheless.


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