Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Surprise Visit

Siiiiiimmmmmmuuuuuuuuul,  Yeeeuuuuh!
Dude, on Wednesday, May 2, the WRHS Chess Club was to hold it's championship, however, the tennis team was playing away.  The Softball team was playing away, the track team was in Burley, and our school championship looked as if it was not going to happen tonight.  We decided to post-pone it until Saturday, May 12.  Jeff Roland and Corey Longhurst had already departed Boise, on their way to visit our club and the now post-poned championship.  They had made a two-hour trip for naught, however, I quickly came up with an outstanding idea.  Siiimmuuuuul,  Yeeeuuuuh!
Corey "Mordakai" Longhurst in his first Simul
Jeff "Rigby" Roland
They arrived early enough for my chess class, Integrating Chess and Critical Thinking during the last period of the day. Today we were to learn about chess notation, but my students were about learn it by recording their first game in a simul against Jeff and Corey!    I quickly transformed my room into a "simul-circle" where nine students could compete against Jeff and nine against Corey during the hour-long class.  I positioned myself in the center of the room so I could quickly help students with record keeping questions.

The bell rang and students began to emerge from the hallway.  They were surprised to see the new room set up and Jeff and Corey standing next to me as I greeted them.  I introduced Jeff and Corey as expert chess players that came up for our now defunct championship tournament.  "Today, we are going to play chess and learn about recording our games in a simul.  You are already acquainted with algebraic notation.  A simultaneous exhibition is a type of tournament where multiple players compete against one individual.  They will play everyone at once and will move from player to player.  Simuls are prestigious and challenging events for participants and we are going to help Jeff and Corey build their chess resume.  Make your move when Jeff or Corey reach your board and raise your hand if you have any questions about notation.  These games are going to be posted on Jeff's website."

Nash Hartdegon puzzling Jeff Roland.
My students were obviously nervous, and so too were Jeff and Corey.  I was excited to offer this for my chess students.  Jeff and Corey shook hands and made their first move as white for each player.  Typically, players performing the simul will be white and the contestants will be black.

I e-mailed the staff and invited other students to visit and observe if they had a chance.  Stacey Smith brought her class for a bit.  Her students were impressed at how quiet my room full of students was and with Jeff and Corey.  Jeff and Corey got to feel like celebrities for at least the hour they visited WRHS.  Yeuh!

Each student made their reply and so on.  As the hour waned, Jeff check-mated Easton Kimball and then accepted a draw against me.  Corey scored his first win against Matt Reidy who resigned.  The games continued and the hour long class was nearly up.  I warned Jeff and Corey that some students will need to reach their buses, so they might leave quickly.  And they began resigning and did!  Some students hold out to the end.

Christoffer Mauritzen did very well against Corey and had an opportunity to win (see above) but just couldn't stay to finish.  Dude, not cool.  Nash Hartdegan gave Jeff some trouble, but the last game for Jeff was against Drew Morse.  I encourage my students to play games out to the bitter end and Drew was not about to resign his lost game and continued well after the bell rang through move 50.  I was happy to see most students survive the opening without any major blunders or pieces dropped.  I was encouraged to see good positions for several students in the middle games, as well.
Desmond's position after 10. ..Bb7 against Jeff.  Desmond is about to lose a pawn.

Ty Reineman against Corey.  Ty spotted the knight pin the next move 15. . . Bh6.
They next day, our discussions were about the simul and it was apparent that students and amateurs need to see and/or participate in events such as these.  Some of my students felt more confident and some felt like they participated in something important.  And they really did!
Drew and Easton enjoying the simul

Jeff’s Opponents
Jeff’s Results
Corey’s Opponents
Corey’s Results
Nash Hartedegon
Christoffer Mauritzen
Martin Felix
Ty Reinemann
Desmond Porth
Matt Reidy
Jake Whitlock
Max Mihalic
Jacob Hope
Paul Klimes
Charley Hines
Dillon Bunce
Easton Kimball
Jon Reigle
Drew Morse
Tyler Avila
Adam Porth
Emmitt Say

Paul Klimes and Dillon Bunce are looking for an opportunity.

The Opening against Drew.
Paul is a bit conservative against Corey

Emmitt offered a draw and Corey accepted.  Ms. Smith in background.

Charley Hines and Jacob Hope.

Middle game struggle for Matt Reidy and Max Mihalic.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

2012 WRHS Chess Championship!

Desmond Porth is WRHS Chess Champion!

Desmond Porth 6.5 pts.
Chase Hutchinson 5.0 pts.
Christoffer Mauritzen 4.5 pts.
Riley Clark 3.0 pts.
Max Mihalic 1.0 pts.

Great Job to everyone - a big thank you to me who bought the pizza and drinks, and sponsored the chess prizes and trophies.

Desmond - trophy and folding cherry/maple chessboard
Chase - trophy and executive bag and pieces
Christoffer - trophy and analog Diamond Chess Clock
Riley - tournament board
Max - analysis board

Smooth moves by Chase

Chase won the first game with Max and just pulled out a nice move in game 2:  1. Nxd5!! winning a pawn.  He can now use a discovered check against Max's king or if Max 1. ..cxd5 then 2. Bxc5+ forking the king and rook.  Is there a way out?  Max chose 1. ..Kf8 which now allows Chase another forking opportunity!  2. Nc7.

WRHS Championship going on right now!

Here in my classroom, I am monitoring our last two games between Max Mihalic and Chase Hutchinson, right now.  What is really neat is that while my club players are vying for the WRHS Championship title, I also have the US Championships live streaming on my Promethean board.  Very cool!

The last games are going to decide the second place winner - just how we like it - tension and pressure in the last round for four of the five participating players.  Desmond ended with 6.5 points and is untouchable, but Christoffer went 1-and-1 with Max during the last round which puts Christoffer at 4.5 points and Chase at 3.0 points.  Chase could potentially knock Christoffer out of second place with two wins.  If Max wins just one game, then Christoffer wins second place.  With two wins for Max, there will be a three way tie for third and some run-off games.

With 5 other people not showing up we decided to go for a double round robin with each person playing every other person once as white and once as black.

Max Mihalic
Christoffer Mauritzen
Chase Hutchinson
Riley Clark
Desmond Porth

I am also updating on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mountain Home Spring Tournament

Who needs to text and drive?
Mountain Home is a rural community outside of Boise and notorious for it's military and Air Force bases.  It will soon be home to a chess club.  The Idaho Chess Union held a four round, G/45 tournament at the Mountain Home Community Library and the Stagecoach Espresso Bar in order to inspire and support a beginning chess community.  Eighteen players from the Treasure Valley and the Wood River Valley competed with four Mountain Home players in a relaxed and fun event that pitted beginners with veteran chess minds.

Field Trip Rule #1:  Don't step in dog poop when you have to ride a bus for 2 hours.
I brought six high schoolers from our chess club to the event which introduced four of them to a tournament for the first time.  It proved to be very educational and I was surprised to learn how to deal with a particular position that has creeped up a couple different times in my own chess games.  This is truly the best way to learn about chess and for the older, more experienced generation to pass their knowledge onto new players without the pressure of ratings or titles interfering.
Playing with an arrow in your head! (it is a painting on the wall behind  Desmond)

One of the most pleasing aspects of this tournament was the fact that it was played in an espresso bar.  It was a  quiet Saturday afternoon, however, and the only frothing was because of my latte orders.  There was an occasional  customer that spectated and a rare library patron that entered the area with a raised eyebrow.

Round 1 began without any board numbers on the tables so I felt like I was at a church coffee social, shaking hands and introducing myself, hoping the hand I held was my opponent.  It was the same for all.  People settled, clocks and pieces were adjusted and Jeff Roland, our Tournament Director said a few words, then the espresso machine made one last gasp before  . . . . . . . d4.  I played one of my students Tyler Avila.  After our game we analyzed and talked about the game.
Round 1:  Peter Olsoy vs. Desmond
During Round 2, I made a move that I suspected was a loser, but I just couldn't see how it would be.  So I tried it out and soon found out why!  If I took with pawn on I could get a discovered check on the king, or I could just go right for the check with my queen.  Fritz tells me dxc6 was an advantage (0.92) while Qxc6 is a disadvantage (-0.13).  After 10. Qxc6+ (my move), Bd7 (of course), 11.  Qc4 (to save my pawn on e4) Rc8 (my bishop and possibly rook suddenly disappear).  I resign after a superfluous defense and go watch my students with my ears frowning and Paul chasing me down with analyses.
Round 2:  Paul Edvalson vs. me

Do I take with pawn or with queen? (me vs. Paul Edvalson)
I always try to encourage my students to play gracefully with the poise of a grandmaster.  But, the game (and this tournament is a fun one), and I watch my students inflict pain and tortuous moves on each other since they are struggling against the older players.  Martin Felix insists on mating Riley Clark with a pawn in one game, and while waiting for round  3 to end, mates Kalen with 6 rooks!

A loud, "Fuck!" breaks the silence of the last round and their is a hush as everyone in the room looks first at the exclamator and then slowly turn their heads to me for my dirty look - it's one of my students.  I smiled.  Was it a blunder or a good move, I wonder?  Youthful entertainment at its best!
White to move.  Nothing like leaping without looking!  17. Qxd6??
Corey Longerhurst, of Meridian, wins decisively with 4.0 points. And our group of seven heads to Winger's for dinner with three of us earning 2.0 points and four of us earning 1.0 points.

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