Thursday, April 25, 2013

2013 Super Nationals Day 1 (in progress)

Super Nationals lived up to it's name in that it was the largest rated tournament ever with 5335 scholastic players.  There were simuls, side tournaments, lectures, films, demonstrations, venders, university teams, and numerous chess celebrities.  The tournament was held in the Gaylord Marriott Resort in Nashville, Tennessee on the Grand Ole' Opry grounds.  What a great experience for me and my kids!  I wish more of my chess club were here.
One of the four garden rooms - the Waterfall Garden

We were late night arrivals on Wednesday night, April 3 and Desmond reminisced as we entered the Gaylord Hotel.  He last played in this facility in the High School Championships in 2010, an eighth grader among all my seniors.  This time, Super Nationals for the first and last time.  Dylan looked around wide-eyed and began to absorb the amazing gardens and marvel the scale of the hotel.  I suggested that she continue to study chess and she will be here in four years for the next Super Nationals as an eleventh grader with her brother, Darwin, as a 6th grader.  We missed dinner and splurged by ordering expensive appetizers from room service and slept hard.

Dylan and Desmond catching some lunch at Bughouse (a Madhouse!)


Dylan and Des correct their team names

Reporting some results

The next day we rose early and quickly found some breakfast.  I took Dylan around through all the gardens and important areas so she would be familiar with her surroundings.  The morning began with Des and Dylan playing in their first Bughouse tournament.  Bughouse is essentially partner chess with a twist.  As your partner wins pieces they can give them to their partner to play on their board.  When it's your turn to move, you can either move a piece on the board or drop a piece that your partner gave you in a legal square.  That is, pawns cannot be placed in first or eighth rank.  The time controls are fast, G/5 nd, and you and your partner win by checkmate, illegal move, taking the king, or flag fall.  That's right, you can take the king if your opponent leaves the king in check and doesn't notice.  Also, each team plays alternate colors and two matches are played per round.  You can talk to your partner to help them play so the tournament hall is very different from regular chess.  Des and Dylan discovered that Bughouse at this level is a bit different than playing their buddies in chess club!  They returned to our "campsite" a bit overwhelmed after only a minute into the game.  I chuckled and indicated that this is very different from our chess club matches.  As the rounds progressed, they gained more confidence and each began winning games.  They ended up with 4.0 points out of twelve possible.

Just in time for the simul (Bughouse ran long)

I whisked Dylan immediately to the simul against Alexandra Kosteniuk that had already begun.  Fortunately, a number of kids were also in the Bughouse tournament so they reserved places for them. It was an exciting event and 40 eager players.  Dylan was one of the last five players in the venue and I was proud of her endurance.  I met Jennifer Shahade at the beginning of the simul and it turns out that she was filming some of it. Alexandra's daughter also bounced all over the tournament room and spent the long hours entertaining herself; she was a queen herself.  Dylan just learned about the French Defense this week and she used this opportunity to try it out.  After analyzing the game with her afterwards, we fixed a couple of opening problems and then talked about some of the tactical fall downs.  Her regular tournament games benefited immensely from this.


Meanwhile Desmond began playing in the Blitz tournament and was occupied in fast games until about ten pm.  We were famished and were happy to find some food.  Food seemed to be an amazing problem throughout the tournament.  The hotel had very fancy restaurants and very expensive fast food and junk food.  I talked myself into dropping whatever on my credit card and tried to forget about it.

Earlier in the day, I met Alise Pemsler.  Her daughter, Carmen, was entered in the tournament and it was nice to see a familiar face so far from Idaho.  While waiting for Bughouse to end, I spotted the Vellotti's.  Dan Vellotti runs a scholastic chess program and also trains Carl and Luke Harmon-Vellotti.  Gradually, other Idahoans materialized, including the Lloyds from Boise, and a number of parents and kids from the Riverstone Charter School located in Boise.  In all, there were 42 Idahoans competing.  Idaho comprises 0.4% of the US population and 0.7% of the competitors in Super Nationals were from Idaho.  Idaho was well represented**.  

**The 2nd place K-12 Champion was an Idahoan,  NM Luke Harmon-Vellotti

Luke Harmon-Vellotti (red hoodie) works his way up to Board 1

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