Sunday, March 10, 2013

Girl's Scholastic State and Novice Tournament are Combined Events

Our dry spell broken!
The Girl's State Scholastic event was held earlier in February and included a combined event, the Idaho Scholastic Novice tournament.  Dylan Porth was the only girl that opted to compete in the Girl's event with the other girls in the WRHS Chess Club having other commitments or feeling that it is too early in their chess career to compete at such a level.  The winner of the girl's championship qualifies for the 11th Annual Susan Polgar Foundation Girls Invitational which provides chess instruction and competition and prizes totaling over $200,000 in scholarships, ipads, software, and more.  Held in Webster University in St. Louis, the week long event highlighted Carmen Pemsler (1465) as Idaho's representative last year.

Carmen scores a perfect tournament
This year it was all Carmen again.  Her chess has greatly improved and she has built a reputation of a tough competitor that even scored well in the recent Idaho Closed Championship - 1st place class C.  As the 2013 State Scholastic Girl's champion, she will represent Idaho once again.  My daughter did well in a field that ranged from 7th graders to 12th graders.  But only six competitors! Dylan is an intense dancer and works four nights a week for hours after school.  Consequently, her chess has suffered a backseat lately, with no time to study or practice chess, or even attend chess club.  But, I am happy that she can still solve difficult chess positions and she still enjoys competing.  She earned 2nd place 7th grade and played challenging and long games during the round robin event. 

Light? Heat?
As a member of the ICA Board of Directors, I was greatly disappointed and embarrassed at the condition of the venue for the prestigious girl's event.  This is reflective of the Boise and area School Districts gouging organizations for rental of their facilities and the financial losses of previous years of running scholastic tournaments around the state.  Chess is not considered an academic or educational pursuit in our state and receives little notice or support. Despite these hurdles, I feel that the tournament atmosphere was conducted with an "okay, let's just get this done because we have to" attitude.  The formality of the introductions and  prize presentations was also lacking - little preparation, inexpensive (I thought) looking medals and ribbons and smallish trophies.  At least dress up for the event!  Lighting was very poor and dim in the tournament hall, the girl's all needed to bundle up due to the cold and played in coats.  And there were piles of chairs, equipment, and extension cords to trip on.  The venue was hosting a Valentine Dance later that night and there was a partially constructed wall of plastic on either side of the girls as they played and I imagined a slasher movie with some misshapen creature leaping through the hanging plastic.  The facility's bathrooms smelled and were dirty. It reminded me of something out of road warrior - a post-apocalyptic chess tournament!  I hope preparations for next year's tournament will produce a quality event will be reflected in facilities and the tournament accoutrements. Despite the distractions, the kids prevailed and enjoyed playing chess.  Could this be the reason for the dismal numbers at the scholastic events?  Maybe we can provide as quality a tournament as the quality of the girl's chess games?

Piles of equipment everywhere!
You could film a nice horror show in the room with all the plastic draping.
Alise Pemsler gets help with pairings from Patrick Abernathy
The tournament itself was professionally TDed by Craig Barrett, however.  He organizes a large team of assistants that were all in-communicado with each other via headsets (lending more support to the notion that this was some sci-fy movie set).  The Novice tournament hall and the Girl's State tournament hall were in different buildings and  Craig and his sons quickly offered assistance when necessary to the tune of "Roger that."

These guys know how to get the job done.  Zippity-Do-Da.
The Scholastic Novice tournament is for players that have not had much experience, but was housed in a much better room.  I brought a team of four high school students that just learned how to play this past semester.  They competed against middle school and junior high teams that are coached by some of the top chess tutors in the Boise area. The games were not gimmes for my students and they had to play carefully through the fifth round to secure a first place team plaque.  Wesley Brimstein won 1st place, Megan Jones won 2nd place, Andre Murphy won 3rd place and Keegan Crowson won 4th place.  It was a great last round!  These wins broke the two year dry spell for team trophies for the WRHS Chess Club.   We usually end up 0.5 pts. away from a trophy.  This time we won by 2.5 points.
WRHS Chess Clubbers getting serious in the Skittles room

New-commer, Keegan Crowson.  He took the chess class because there was no other class available for him.  He is now into chess, attends club, helps fund-raise, and will be at the State Scholastics this weekend.  "I hated chess!"


Who are the trophies for?  The girls.

Our chess club also brought other novice and beginner players - Sarah Hattula, Victor Saldivia, Quentin Van Law and Darwin Porth.  The Novice tournament had two different sections, one for absolute beginners and one for players that have a little experience (advanced beginners).  Victor Saldivia earned third place in the 4-12th grade section.  Darwin won a medal for 4th place.

Darwin struggling against his opponent in the opening.

Quentin playing against a kid trying for the Scholar's Mate.

Skittles room I-pad time

Sarah Hattula loves chess.  She won a trophy yesterday at the Spring Warm Up.

When I take kids to tournaments I always try to include some shananigans like . . . going to the Krispy Kreme donut factory . . . or visiting the Discovery Center of Boise where students can lay on a bed of nails . . . . or build an arch . . . or view the Bodies Exhibit (no cameras allowed).  Megan was thoroughly into seeing the different organs and body displays but the younger students more enjoyed the physics displays.  Then our three hour drive back to Sun Valley with a traditional stop at Winger's for pool and hot wings.

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