Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Game Face's at State Championship

Idaho is a big state with a low population (pop. 1,595,728 & 19.0people/sq. mile) meaning that there are less opportunities to play tournament chess than elsewhere.   The ICA State Scholastic Chess Championship is practically the only venue to play a formal chess game for scholastic students and the size of the state precludes most from traveling far to play.  In addition, Idaho is also one of the leaders in poverty with 15.8% living in poverty with incomes well below national averages (Idaho averages $43,259/person). The cost of a chess tournament is a luxury that many people will choose not to participate in.  For example, the cost of registration ($30), travel ($100), hotels (average $90), USCF membership ($22), food and other incidentals, add up fast.  Consequently, nearly all the scholastic chess players are from the Boise area excepting a few individuals from other parts of the state like Savanna Naccarato from Sandpoint (way up north) and Jacob Nathan from Idaho Falls (far eastern part of the state).  Fortunately, my school district supports the chess team by supplying bus transportation and we use fundraisers to help with other fees.  Seven of our ten person team paid for their trip through fundraising, and they would not have attended otherwise.  (Game Faces at bottom  of post.)

Despite the difficulties, 274 students participated in the annual event and got their yearly fill of chess on March 16 during St. Patrick's weekend.  When my team all went up for the team award, I overheard one mother gasp and say "holy cow!"  I think she was surprised at how many out-of-towners we brought.  I think I can safely say that the WRHS Chess Team is the largest in attendance with ten participants in the 41 person Championship Section.  In all, we had 23 Blaine County School District players in the tournament in the K-12, 8th, 7th, 5th, 3rd, 2nd, K sections.  I hope we can increase that number next year.  This was one of the first times that we also had a contingent of parents including the Van Law's, Bakers, Stouffer's, and the Barckhotlz's.  Usually it is only me and my wife cheering and encouraging players and I appreciated the extra support (and sympathies!).
Jay Simonson, ICA President, welcomes everyone to the tournament.
One of the best TD staffs.
I was very pleased by the quality and pageantry of the event, and as the newly elected Vice President of the Idaho Chess Association, I felt that the location, awards, and the TD staff reflected that mission of the ICA.  It also boded well for the cost of the trip for the kids and made them all feel very special to participate.  The Boise School District charges an enormous fee to rent their facilities and does not recognize that chess is an academic pursuit despite our Department of Education State Superintendent and Board of Trustees support of First Move! in the Kindergarten - 3rd grade.  The ICA Scholastic
This was one of the best venues I have seen in Idaho.
Committee found the Vineyard which offered a comfortable playing room for the championship section (carpet, stage for board 101, paintings, adequate lighting and heating, and a large TD staff) and a large gymnasium for the elementary sections.  The playing rooms were even protected from noise by having double doors (like an airlock!) from the "playpen" (skittles room).  The championship room was virtually a silent room of concentration!  The other amenities included a nicely decorated parents waiting area with enough tables and chairs for all, a sun porch, and a top-notch PA
The "Playpen" (skittles room)
Experienced TDs that put kids first before chess.
system.  We could actually hear announcements!  Plus, for people like me, a Moxie Java just one block away.  In contrast to Girl's State, I heard no complaints from parents or players this time around.  I just hope the venue will allow us to return.
Scholastic State Champion, Nathan Jiang

(Keep going for Game Faces )

Pairing sheets were easier to get to this year for Anna Murphy
Wesley Brimstein 
Our successes reflected the quality of the event.  I was very pleased with the results given that virtually everyone on our team were beginners.  Five trophies and three medals were added to the past accomplishments of the WRHS Chess Club.  The WRHS Chess Club earned second place behind a rival chess club, Borah High School, and Megan Jones won  the 12th grade State Champion title.  We also earned other trophies and medals, however, the quality of the games and the enthusiasm of my players were my pleasures.

Megan is a thinker, an artist, a writer, and a renaissance woman.
Megan Jones (provisionally 1200) was the talk of the club.  Megan is a high school senior at WRHS and learned how to play chess last semester in the Integrating Chess and Critical Thinking class taught by me.  She swiftly moved up the ranks within the class and played primarily in informal classroom tournaments until her recent success at the ICA Scholastic Novice tournament for beginners where she scored 4.0 out of 5 points.  Megan is referred to as the secret Grand Master by her fellow chess players and she scored 4.0 of 5 points in the championship.  As Megan left the tournament room, fatigue and surprise graced her features as she told her teammates, "I won!"  Her only loss was to teammate, Desmond Porth who earned 2nd place 10th grader.

Andre Murphy vs. Megan Jones

Andre Murphy vs. Megan Jones
Megan is setting up a nasty fork.

Desmond (hooded on left) plays Kory with accelerated focus

Savanna Naccarato vs. Desmond Porth (Des is excited and nervous to play her!).

Desmond Porth (967) also surprised himself at the tournament.  In round 3, he beat Kory Puderbaugh (1331), whom he lost to last year in a tough battle.  In round 5, he found himself playing Savanna Naccarato (1337) for one of the top three spots in the state.  When he found me, he was excited about how well he played against a student that has a grand master tutor and was a Woman's State Champion in 2011.
Megan and Desmond
Desmond and Megan were instrumental in helping their team earn 2nd place against eight other schools.  The last round, called "the Money Round" was critical for with team results depending on the outcome of three games.  See earlier post on team play.

(Keep going for Game Faces )

The WRMS 7th grade team earned third place with only two players, Dylan Porth and Victor Saldivia.  Teams consisted of the top three boards from each school.  In addition, Dylan Porth earned a fourth place trophy, as well as eighth grader, Nathan Stouffer.
Kathy Baker and Lynnet Porth try to see the action from the parents area.
The second grade team included Darwin Porth, Luke Baker, and Owen Stouffer.  Their exciting ending resulted in another third place for Wood River.  Owen also won a medal for his 3.5 point score and brother Garrett Stouffer also earned a medal in 6th grade.  Zane Barckholtz won a medal in the 5th grade section and all of the players worked with each other to produce the outstanding results.

(Keep going for Game Faces )

Fun with Chess Pics
One of my favorite handshake pictures - "I don't have to shake your hand again!"
Liam Van Law has fun playing chess.
Colby Castle, our team Leprechaun, attends his first tournament for WRHS Chess Club.
The 7th grade prize winners.

The 8th grade prize winners.

Waiting for results, Kory/Tyler vs. Colby/Matt in Bughouse.

Game Faces
Darwin getting his game face on.
Wyatt Caccia Game Face.

Tyler Avila (left) Game Face.

Game Face of Anna Murphy.

Keegan Crowson Game Face.
Dylan Porth Game Face.

Matt Reidy Game Face.

Alex Baker Game Face.

Colby Castle Game Face (right).

Mom and Owen's game face
Wesley Brimstein Game Face 

Van Law Game Face

Another Van Law game face

Victor Saldivia Game Face
Zane Barckholtz Game Face

WRHS Chess Club Game Face (see Tyler's game face upper right)

Dylan and Desmond Porth will participate in the USCFSuper Nationals this next week in Nashville, Tennessee - the largest tournament in the world attracting nearly 5000 scholastic participants, 16 from Idaho.  On April 13, the 3rd Annual Elementary ChessChampionship for area students, Kindergarten through 5th grade, will be held at the high school and the top elementary school will be crowned.  Contact Adam Porth, to participate.  Stay tuned for more chess successes from Idaho.  
The bus ride home (Post-game face).

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