The Fewer the Merrier?

by admin on May 18, 2015

I wrote this post on Saturday but had a problem with my website that kept me from posting it until now.

This year’s Aptos Library Chess Club tournament was a smashing success in every way but one. We didn’t have as big a turnout as we did in 2014 (31 players) or in 2013 (37 players). We only had 15 this year. I take the blame for that, because I was not as organized as I usually am. I always make flyers for the kids to take home, but this year I didn’t. I usually start talking about the tournament two months in advance and taking signups at least a month in advance; this year I only started taking signups two weeks in advance.

Nevertheless, the tournament was actually more enjoyable for me as a tournament director because I wasn’t so busy and I actually had time to appreciate how much the kids were enjoying the tournament. There were also some very good, competitive games, and I had a chance to watch them most of the way instead of just catching a glimpse or two of them.

However, this doesn’t mean I want to chase players away! As far as I’m concerned it would be ideal if the tournament had 20-30 players every year.

Anyway, let’s get to the list of winners.

Ages 9 and under:

  1. Rinoa Oliver
  2. Aaron Chan
  3. (tie) Caleb Fernandes and David Kashnow

Aaron has been coming to these tournaments since he was 6 and I don’t think he has ever lost a game before. So it was a big surprise to me when Rinoa Oliver, a girl whom I had not met before, beat him in the third round. Gjon Feinstein, who coaches both of them, said that they were about even in strength. This time Aaron had a knight pinned against his queen but somehow forgot it and moved the knight. So Rinoa won a queen for a bishop. Still, in scholastic chess that doesn’t mean the game is over. I was impressed by the way that she activated her extra queen and turned down a chance to win more material in order to set up a mating net.

Caleb and David are both chess club regulars, playing in their first tournament, so I was thrilled to see them do so well.

Ages 10 and up:

  1. Ben Walker-Edwards
  2. Alex Stender
  3. Cameron Morgan

Two years ago I wrote, “Ben Walker-Edwards got a little bit of a raw deal because he had a 2-0 score going into the last round but had to play Linnea, a game he had absolutely no chance of winning.” Well, this year he got his redemption. Linnea [Nelson] has gone on to college, and there was no one left who could stop him from going 3-0.

Alex (second place) used to be a chess club regular, stopped coming for a while, but then started coming again about a month ago. This tournament really showed a lot of progress for him. I was especially impressed with his round two win against TJ Lavelle. He lost a rook to a knight fork in the opening. But after losing the material, he didn’t just drift aimlessly and lose more. He realized he had to make threats, he formulated a concrete plan of attack and he carried it through. Eventually he got a classic checkmate with his pawn on h3 and queen on g2 (TJ’s king on g1). Bravo! For TJ it was a rough day. I’m sure he would finish in the top three 9 times out of 10 if we ran the tournament again, but this was day 10 out of 10.

Finally, I want to thank the library for making the tournament possible (a free tournament, who has ever heard of such a thing?) and I want to thank the Friends of the Aptos Library for providing a bountiful spread of healthy refreshments. I was very surprised to see many kids eating the vegetables and apples and oranges instead of the cookies!

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