Aptos tournament report

by admin on May 28, 2016

It’s here! The one day out of every year when I turn into a tournament director, at the Aptos Public Library.

Before I go any further, I should give credit where credit is overwhelmingly due: to the Aptos Library and to Heather Pereira (the chief librarian) and Sandi Imperio (who helped me with the practical matters, such as locating another table when it looked as if we might need one). I can’t emphasize enough how unusual it is to have a FREE tournament with PRIZES (medals and certificates) and REFRESHMENTS, and the only reason it is possible at all is that I have such outstanding support from the library. They consider this an important event and get money from their budget or from donors to keep it going. Thanks!!!

So, in this year’s event we had 24 participants, which is pretty close to average — more than we had last year, but less than our all-time maximum of 35. I’d say that 24 is enough to keep me comfortably busy without panicking. As usual I split the players into two sections: ages 9 and under (10 players) and ages 10 and up (14 players).

In both sections we had clear winners, and they were brothers! Kevin Wang went 3-0 to win the older section, and his brother Kai Wang likewise scored 3-0 to win the younger section. I’ll bet that tonight was a pretty happy night in the Wang household! Congratulations to both of them on their outstanding play.

We also had huge ties for second place in both sections: three players at 2-1 in the younger age group, and six (!) at 2-1 in the older group. Of course this is one of the problems with a three-round tournament. In some years I am saved from the massive ties by timely draws, but this year it didn’t work out that way. In the younger group I decided not to break the ties but simply to award second-place medals to all of the people at 2-1, and third-place medals to the people with 1½-1½ scores. In the older section, which had the six-way tie, I had a one-round playoff in which the three winners would get second-place medals and the three losers would get third-place medals. Have you got all that? It was pretty confusing to me, not to mention the kids!

So here are the complete results:

Ages 9 and Under

Gold: Kai Wang (3-0)

Silver: Alan Lee, Jaden Shabry, Willow Ehrhardt (2-1)

Bronze: Liam Devitt, Alex Profumo (1½-1½)

Ages 10 and Over

Gold: Kevin Wang (3-0)

Silver: Jesse Williams, Darrell Wang, Aaron Chan (2-1 + playoff win)

Bronze: Shaashuat Shetty, Atlee Haldeman, Rhys Wilson (2-1 + playoff loss)

Odds and Ends: Although as a TD I have to be impartial, I always root a little bit for the kids whom I see every week at chess club. “My” kids were reasonably successful, with three medalists (Shaashuat, Atlee, and Willow). The two who didn’t win medals at least won a game.

It may seem a little bit surprising that only 5 of the 24 players who showed up are chess club regulars. Part of the reason is that many of the attendees (well over half) come from either Gjon Feinstein’s team, or his classes, or the chess club that he runs at the main branch of the library. I’m really glad that he does such a good job of promoting my tournament to his students. This year we wouldn’t have had much of a tournament without them! Also, there were a couple of surprising no-shows — people who come to my club regularly whom I would have expected to come to the tournament, but didn’t. Maybe the holiday weekend had something to do with that.

I was super-impressed with Willow’s performance. She was an absolute beginner six months ago, and for her to score 2-1 with two solid victories was better than I would have imagined. She noticed about halfway through the afternoon that she was the only girl playing, and she said that I should have a prize for the top girl! I told her that if she kept playing well, she wouldn’t need a girls’ prize because she would finish second or third (as she in fact did). However, I did promise to bring a special prize to chess club on Tuesday as her top girl prize. I know there’s a lot of debate in the chess community about whether women’s prizes are a good thing, but for her it seemed like a good motivator.

There was one kid who finished “last” (if you want to use that word) but had a great time, because his picture is going to be in the paper tomorrow! A photographer from the Santa Cruz Sentinel came at about 12:15. At that point I was just signing people in, and the actual tournament games wouldn’t begin until 1:00. So I told him that 1:00 would be the best time for him to take pictures. Unfortunately, he had another assignment after this one, so he couldn’t wait that long. But he took some pictures of a photogenic little kid named Ryu Cirillo, and after he was done, Ryu was absolutely thrilled, as he told his dad: “Everybody is going to see me in the paper and I am going to be famous!” I don’t think that he minded at all that he lost all three of his games.

I’d also like to give credit to the youngest kids in the tournament, Liam Devitt and Alex Profumo, who are only six years old. Not only did they play, they each scored 1½ points and got a medal! I wish I had been smart enough to start playing in chess tournaments at six. I don’t think I even knew how to play at that age.

This year’s tournament was a success in two other ways: no crying and no withdrawals. Well, sometimes crying does happen and there’s nothing you can do about it. Kids can get really emotionally caught up in their games. Nevertheless, given my choice I would always prefer this tournament to be a more relaxed, stress-free experience. I want everyone to take positive memories away. As for no withdrawals, that’s important to me because it’s good sportsmanship. If you come to play, you should commit to play all your games, win or lose. I know that 99 percent of adult chess players do not abide by this principle, but I think it’s a good rule to start kids off with.

Thanks to all of the participants for playing, and thanks to all of you for reading.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Kuhner May 30, 2016 at 7:02 am

Speaking as someone who got a winning position against an FM last night and then got mated…sometimes it is hard not to cry.

At last year’s edition of the Memorial Day tournament I met a tiny Russian girl who said to me, in tears, “So many good moves and only one bad one!” Somehow thinking of her helps me. It is a universal experience. Chess is beautiful and exciting and frustrating and heartbreaking.


Rob Radford May 30, 2016 at 8:07 am

what’s the upper age limit? 12. 14, 37? or is there one? thinking of doing something like this in ventura.
keep blogging please


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