Sunday, April 13, 2014

2014 National High School Championships

The excitement begins the morning before the main event.

"Good Luck"
Grandmaster Maurice Ashley congratulates our team.
The BCSD Chess Rage has been very active this past month with tournaments and other chess functions every weekend.  This past weekend reached a climax with six high school students competing in the National High School Chess Championship.  This is only the second time that a team from the Wood River Valley has attended such a function with the last time in 2011 where the team placed 24th with over 330 teams in attendance.  We fared better this time - 20th in classic and 20th in Blitz.
Introducing the 20th place team.

943 kids, their parents, friends, and coaches.

The tournament was held in San Diego at the Town & Country Resort and 943 attendees played G/120 d5 games, meaning each opponent has two hours to complete all their moves with a 5 second delay per move.  The tournament was broken into five sections:  U800, U1200, U1600, Championship, and Unr.  The Chess Rage had one U1600, one unrated player, and a team of four U1200 players.  The ratings refer to the United States Chess Federation (USCF) rating system where the higher the rating, the better the player.
8 am training session
The chess team played in the Bughouse and Blitz side events requiring 8-hours of play on Thursday before the main event began on Friday.  Desmond Porth won a 3rd place class prize in Blitz, and Adam Porth, BCSD Chess Rage coach, tied for 3rd place in the coaches tournament held on Saturday.  In the three-day, 7 round main event, players engaged nearly 36 hours of play and 12 hours of practice and analysis.  Chess began at 8 am and typically ended near midnight.
Desmond receives analysis by Texas Tech Chess Team member.

As one master level coach from New York boasted, "Chess competitions are more mentally exhausting than anything students do in school."  He continued, "Chess requires more study and practice than any subject students take."  Many school districts around the United States are now funding chess programs in their schools and are even financially supporting students traveling to competitions, such as this one.  Colleges are offering scholarships to chess players rated over 1400 - 1500 at Texas Tech and Webster University in St. Louis.
Levi is always happy to play.

Levi Catangcatang is the newest player to the team and scored 3.0 points in the unrated section.  He soaked up all the learning and resources that the tournament offered, such as training from members of the Texas Tech and Webster University teams.  He also found numerous friends to play with and obtained analysis from other coaches.  Andre Murphy commented on "how great it is to be around this much chess!"  with games being played at the pool, in corridors, and virtually any place that offered a quiet spot.
Tyler Avila gets very serious during his analysis in the skittles room.

Tyler Avila was successful in applying lessons learned from each game during analysis.  He dropped two games in the endgame that should have resulted in victories in previous rounds, but demonstrated that study (and patience) pays off in the seventh round where he applied all of the strategies learned from earlier games and highhandedly won.   He ended the tournament with 2.5 points.
Round 7

Dylan enjoys playing black.

Andre was one of our longest game players.

Quick games in the main event ended in disaster and successful players used all their time.  Dylan Porth even ran into time trouble in three of her games resulting in draws, though she was ahead in material in those games.  She earned 2.5 points by the end of the tournament.  In the last round, Desmond Porth was the very last game to finish in the U1600 against a player from California.  He and Andre Murphy took a hard road and drew most of their rounds, only losing 2 of the 7 rounds.  Draws only earn a 1/2 point.  Desmond lead the team with 3.5 points.  Andre Murphy and Wesley Brimstein each earned 3.0 points in the U1200 section.
Wesley wrestles with his thoughts while his parents look on in the background.

With Desmond and Dylan the only members of the team used to the pressure of National play, I was quite happy with the results of the first-timers, and I look forward to taking the players to Columbus, Ohio next year where I am sure they will be in the top ten after a year of hard work and development.

The long weekend ended with a trip to the San Diego zoo in order to relax and unwind before returning to the mountain of homework the players had accumulated.
There is a panda lurking in the shadows.
As Tyler said it, "This was one of my best weeks ever!"

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