Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Idaho Open Results

The Coronal Mass Ejection reached a zenith at the 2012 Idaho Open held at the Student Union Building at Idaho State University in Pocatello over the weekend.  The Coronal Mass Ejection is a massive burst of electromagnetic energy and is highly associated with solar storms.  Although a causal relationship has not been established.  The solar cycle occurs every 10-11 years and the current CME is one of the most intense ones ever measured.  Doomsday Preppers are anticipating major effects to powergrids, satellite and radio-wave disruptions, and food supplies, and indirect affects to education, socio-political systems, and immigration patterns.  When the grids go down and governments begin to fail, I think chess will be a great tool for entertaining masses of people lacking their tvs, smart phones, ipads, and other technological devices.  Start storing and stashing chess boards and be ready to whip one out when strangers approach your house.  All I was concerned at this tournament was the heat and remaining hydrated.  This was the hottest tournament I have played in with the tournament room nearly as hot as a car on a sunny day!  Could the CME have something to do with it?  Probably not.

Me vs. Victor Watts, 2006 Idaho Open

The 2012 Idaho Open was a great success.  I am fond of playing in Pocatello as my first three tournaments  (2006) were played in the very room I found myself sitting in this past weekend!  Things are a bit different six years later, as I was undefeated in this go around and earned 1st place in the reserve section with 4.5 points (versus 0 points and last place in 2006).
I got mushed behind Fred
All the usual Idaho chess players were conspicuously present including Jeff Roland, Caleb Kircher, Barry Eacker, Kevin Patterson, Jay Simonson (TD), Fred Bartell.  Many were missing, but I was happy to be with friends this weekend.  It is the mere point of being around each other that matters as attending a chess tournament is as social as attending a movie with your friends.  How many times have you been in a room for hours with your friends and not spoken to them?

Kerry Shirts videoed the tournament(left) and Barry Eacker(right) sports a Buckendorf tie

For two years I was the Secretary/Treasurer of the Idaho Chess Association, but I resigned my position this week after discovering that my position was dysfunctional.  One of the ICA TDs refused to provide financial reconciliations of tournaments because they were "volunteers" and with allegations of financial mismanagement of the ICA pending, I thought it best to get out of that mess before it gets serious.  All of my ICA friends that are board members were upset, of course, but very understanding of the position I was in.  My goodbye was not a formal one and I hope to one day return to a board position when the climate has changed, but my mark has been a positive one.  I tried to institute fiscal responsibility by having a TD form, I began recording membership (which has never been done), I suggested tournament registration forms to track e-mails and information, instituted foot-noting to changes on original documents, suggested scans of important historical documents (rather than re-typing them all), and even inspired historical pictures of events like a large group photo at each event.  There have been other trivial items and I hope my help was appreciated by some, as resisted by others.
Jay Simonson, President and TD
The number of players registered for the Idaho Open was disappointingly low, nineteen, but the spirit was high.  Players from California, Montana, and around Idaho attended.  Kerry Shirts, the backyard professor, of sorts, entered the tournament for the first time and began filming a Youtube novelty to become a Chess Master.  Here is his Idaho Open film (I have a red and an orange soccer jersey on):

In order to play chess in Idaho, one must travel far and commit significant amount of time on the road and in hotels.  This trip I made alone and was fortunate to use a spare room of an old college friend and artist, Sky.  Desmond was scheduled to come this weekend but began his first job as a teenager and decided to make money rather than spend it this weekend.  Pocatello was a busy town this weekend and I spent Friday and Saturday night listening to the "Monster Truck" show at Holt Arena.  In between rounds, I took in the natural history, paleontology, and archaeology of Idaho at the Idaho Museum of Natural History which offered free admissions.  I also visited old haunts as I am an alumnist of Idaho State University as a Master's in Natural Science.  Dinner at Buddy's is always a welcomed treat when I visit.  I also climbed up red hill behind the SUB and got all sweaty before round 3.  It really did not matter much because the heat in the tournament room kept me sweating for another couple hours.
Fun between rounds

Pleistocene Bear

Scout Mountain at a distance

Pillars of Love

Idaho Open Chess Champion,
Ted Belanoff
The action started on Saturday morning with the "Octopus" - Greg Nowak, from Montana defending his title against an onslaught of eleven players in the open section (I played in the Reserve).  Ted Belanoff, of Woodside, California ended up winning the tournament with 5.0 points.  I hope he returns to Idaho next year to defend his title.  

My round 1 game was against an eleven year old, Isaac Blake.  Last year I played rough games against other children so I was determined to play better and not let my psychology wreck my game.  I was black and Isaac opened with the Fried Liver Attack which I diffused with d5.  In round 2 I was paired with Katie Patterson, who is a very good player in the opening and in the middle game.  I was white and used the Ponziani with success.  I was able to snag a knight early on and with frequent exchanges of major and minor pieces, I entered the endgame in great shape.  After dinner at Buddy's and a hike up red hill, Round 3 was not my best game.  I felt that I wrecked my position with a risky bishop sac against Kevin Patterson. After I determined how the prizes would be divvied up, I gladly accepted and hoped to get a good night's rest.

Kevin and Me
Round 3:  Move 11, I was thinking that Kevin would either take with pawn or save his Knight, but he found  a very good move, Nxb5.

Round 4:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Anything to Win

Here is a nice Biography about Bobby Fischer I showed my 7th period students (with their study guide questions, following).  One student was disturbed and sad to see Part 5 and learn that he died in Iceland, alone and isolated.

"Anything to Win"

1.      How old was Bobby Fischer when he became US Champion?

2.       Who did Bobby Fischer play in order to become the World Champion and in what year?

3.      Who was “the game of the century” played against and how old was Bobby Fischer when he played it?

4.      Why was Bobby Fischer “wanted” by the US State Department?

5.       What country was Bobby Fischer arrested in?

6.       What do you think was the cause of Bobby Fischer’s crazy behavior?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

WRESCC Results

I just get busier and busier.  This week we ended a quarter (grades due) and began a new one (new classes).  We also had two days of Parent-Teacher Conferences, soccer started for Darwin, and I was told last week to have 5 minute video reports on the uses of the technology grants submitted by Friday! I made 3 videos.  Our school won $110,000 in technology grant money, and I wrote 6 grants to earn $60,000 of it.  I also prepared an elementary championship for our valley.  Here is what happened:


It was a first grade day!  The top players were 1st graders and they all seemed to dominate all the other grades.  This special tournament was first offered last year as a Senior Project for WRHS graduate, Nick Bruck.  We wanted to keep it going and build some competitive spirit between our area elementary schools. Last year, the Bellevue Bears won this championship.  Who would it be this year?
Owen Stouffer - Perfect 5.0

The elementary schools in the area include:  Bellevue, Woodside, Hailey, Hemingway, Sage, and Community School.  The two private schools did not have any participants this year, however.  There were twenty students in all ranging from Kindergarten to fifth grade.  Unfortunately, there were no third graders from any school participating.  Teams consisted of the top four players from each school and only Hemingway happened to have a partial team of three players.

I tried to encourage longer and more patient games, so G/30 was selected and only two games the entire day reached a time pressure mark.  As players began arriving, I was personally feeling very ready, but players continued to arrive and register after the tournament was supposed to start.  We have a laid-back valley, but as the numbers grew and the tournament start delayed even more, I was preparing for a long day.  Would the new tournament folk be ready?  Or, would they think, "what have I gotten myself into?"  I always try to keep things moving so players and parents will want to come back.

Desmond was a Champ, too.
With this being the last weekend to ski in the valley, I knew we would be a little light on numbers, but was very happy with the 20 kids that arrived, eager to play and representing all the area public schools.  Tournaments in our valley are also educational so I not only TDed but also taught.  So did my excellent assistant (and son!), Desmond.  He showed some kids how to avoid Scholar's Mate and how to mate with a rook and king, and even how to avoid some stalemates.  After seven hours of helping me out, he exclaimed, "man, I'm tired.  I didn't know that this would be so tiring . . ."  Each round challenged Desmond, me, and our knowledge of the rules.

Round one began nearly 30 minutes late and I started experiencing computer glitches immediately.  I struggled to delete one player that did not show and wintd kept inactivating another player.  For the first round, I had to re-pair three times!

Instead of printing pairings or posting them on the screen, as I have in the past,  I would use the PRNTSCR function to copy a window, post it in Word, Crop it, and Save it in Dropbox.  Then my assistant would open the file on another laptop for the kids to see.  It worked well, but not as well as displaying it on the big screen; the projector was not available to us today.

Round 2 and 3 produced some nice upsets where 1st graders beat 5th graders. And brother, Owen Stouffer put his older brother, Garrett Stouffer down!  Owen went on to win the rest of his games and complete the tournament with a perfect 5.0!  There were some reasonable stalemates and the longest games were only 30 minutes.
"Is this a stalemate?"

Otto shows his trophy off!
I had three door prizes for players that I drew for in between rounds to keep the excitement up, an "eagle" rollup board, a backpack, and a magnetic travel board.  Food and sustenance also became a factor as I was only planning on playing until about noon.  Noon was fast approaching and their were two rounds left!  Kathy Baker, a chess mom, began helping Des and me as well and she had many bags of popcorn from a left over cub scout event from the night before to offer hungry players.  I should remind people to bring food to tournament.

I posted the team scores on the dryboard in between rounds.  Bellevue Elementary School was always in the lead, but after round 4, Hailey Elementary School surprised the tournament with a half point lead.  Bellevue would have to pull out some strong games in the 5th round in order to win the tournament.  Ms. Turco has run a lunchtime elementary school chess club at three of the four schools for fifteen years and secretly wanted the under dogs to win this year.  Bellevue has always had strong players.

Bellevue was pitted against Hailey in the top boards for the fifth round - the money round.  On the top board, the game only went for about five minutes with a quick version of Fried Liver taking care of business between Owen Stouffer and Alex Baker.  Bellevue player, Quentin Van Law played another Hailey player, Collin Young and decisively won that game.   On another board - Bellevue vs. Hemingway, Darwin beat Jake Simon with a version of Scholar's Mate.

The last round and the day belonged to Bellevue and the first grade. It was neat to see Owen Stouffer get a perfect tournament and nobody got shut-out.  Trophies were presented to first place and second places.  Medals were awarded to third place.  Sportsmanship awards went to Quentin Van Law, Otto Olson, and Rigoberto Montes.  I am sure that next year, Hemingway and Woodside will be better represented with more players, and maybe Sage and Community Schools will want to participate.  Congratulations to our valley chess champions and the Bellevue Bears!

The Bellevue Bears -  Top Elementary School!

Kindergarten     Emmitt Stouffer
1st Grade        Owen Stouffer
2nd Grade           Quentin Van Law
3rd Grade              None
4th Grade       Alex Baker
5th Grade       Garrett Stouffer
Next weekend brings the Idaho Open in Pocatello, and the next local tournament will be a WRHS Championship.  Don't forget Power Chess tomorrow!

Friday, April 13, 2012


2011 WRESCC Champions from Bellevue Elementary School

The Wood River Elementary School Chess Championship begins tomorrow morning which includes one open section for K-5th grade.  I look forward to sharing with you the results.  We began this tournament last year for Nick Bruck's Senior Project.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Donate to Chess everywhere

Endgame T-shirt Winner - Desmond Porth!
Desmond is the WRHS Chess Club President and is very active with chess in our school.  He promotes tournaments, raises money and definitely earned this Endgame t-shirt that was donated to our club by the folks at Endgame T-shirts by selling the most Krispy Kreme donuts.  I am a fan of the shirts that they provide chess enthusiasts such as myself and own about 8 different designs.  The company also donated Endgame stickers to all participants of the Spring Warm-up Tournament.  Billy Olson of the Power House also donated a free kids meal to all of the participants which was another nice perk that added to the excitement of the Spring Warm-up tournament.  The Power House also supports Power Chess Night for adults on Monday nights after 8 pm.  Beer, chess, and friends are always a winning combination.  And chess fun is not just for kids!
John Nahlen and Billy Olson
Donations and support from organizations are critical to keep chess active and alive in this country.  Elsewhere, chess is promoted and encouraged among youth and it takes dedication and enthusiasm to maintain excitement in the United States.  This past month, the European Union recently endorsed Chess in the Schools. Chess Clubs abound but they can be hard to find for the average Joe or are relegated to after school or lunch programs exclusively.

 Endgame T-shirts and company's like them are fighting chess stigmas, which pervade our American culture.  They place chess in the appropriate context and someday, chess t-shirts will be as common as sport ones.  Stupid is out - Smart is in - and Chess is cool!  Right, Alexandra?  Support chess.

I would love to play her

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