Free Chess Tournament!

by admin on May 3, 2014

Yeah, I thought that headline would get your attention. It’s true: Every year I run a free (unrated) chess tournament for kids at the Aptos Public Library. Today was the day for this year’s tournament. For me, it was a huge unqualified success, because:

  1. We had a big turnout, 31 kids (slightly less than last year, but still the second-most ever).
  2. We had enough tables, chairs, and boards for all of them. That was not automatic. The library purchased new tables in the last year and got rid of the old ones (too beat-up, too ugly)… which meant we only had 5 tables, enough to seat 30 people. I was sweating when we got up to 31. If a 32nd person had showed up, I would have had to scrounge another table from somewhere.
  3. The tournament ran more or less on time. I wanted to start the rounds at 1, 2, and 3. The third round actually didn’t get started until 3:05, but that was close enough.
  4. NOBODY CRIED! That’s high on my list. We did have some almost-tears from one kid, but I tried to remind him of how well he had played and he held it together.
  5. Nobody withdrew from the tournament. That pleased me a lot. In past years there have always been one or two players who had to leave early, or who got discouraged by losing a couple games. Every year I try to emphasize that nobody gets eliminated, and this year it seemed as if they heard me. I also give out certificates to everyone who completes all three games. To me it’s a prize for good sportsmanship and for finishing what you started.
  6. Speaking of good sportsmanship, there were no disputes, no temper tantrums, and a lot of handshakes after games. We adults could learn from the kids!
  7. The library provided an eye-popping spread of cookies, veggies, watermelons, juice bags, etc. It all disappeared within about 15 minutes. Thirty-one kids can eat a lot!
  8. Oh yes, there were probably some good chess games played. It was kind of hard for me to follow any of them, because my eyes had to be in ten places at once.

Here are the prize winners.

Age 6-8 section:

  1. Aaron Chan (3-0, won playoff)
  2. Luke Tanguay (3-0)
  3. Alan Lee (2½-½)

Age 9-18 section:

  1. Latchezar Voynikov (3-0, won playoff)
  2. Andrew Wang (3-0)
  3. Rhys Wilson, Cameron Morgan, Darrell Wang, Anton Jackson, Jeremiah Silbah, Leon Tanguay (2-1)

Aaron has played in this tournament for the past couple years, and I was not surprised to see him win it. He is ready for rated tournaments. Latchezar was a great surprise. He used to come to my tournaments a long time ago, but I hadn’t seem him for seven years. Then suddenly he showed up again at chess club two weeks ago. I didn’t recognize him at first because he has grown about two feet, but after he told me his name I remembered him. I don’t know whether he has studied chess at all during the last seven years, but he definitely has improved. His game was super solid, and I never saw him remotely in trouble.

The age distribution in the older section was kind of interesting. We had twelve players in the age 9-12 range, three in the age 17-18 range, and none in between! It seems as if people in Santa Cruz just quit chess when they hit their teens. I don’t know why, because that was exactly the age when I got hooked by tournament chess. Does anybody know the magic secret for retaining high-schoolers?

Congratulations to all the prize winners, and also to all of the other players who overcame their fears, came to their first tournament, played all of their games, competed hard, and had fun. I think they are all winners!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Latch September 21, 2014 at 11:51 am

Thanks for the tournament! It was great fun and I wish I could go next year; sadly I’m 19 and can’t attend anymore. I had a brief stint where I studied some chess books and was serious about improving but my motivation waned because I didn’t know where to play over the board games.


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