State Chess Team Tournament

I've been to Chess Tournaments before but never State and not high school.  I volunteered to chaperon when I realized that it was a mostly free weekend for me.  That was before I knew we were camping but I probably would have done it anyway.  I showed up to the high school with my brand new to me van.  The kids literally threw their gear in the back.  I was thinking please don't scratch the leather but it's a van and they are high schooler so really no worries.  The vans loaded up and we took off to Bellvue.  I was by myself hauling gear.  The directions were great and I got there no problem.  I'm thinking that Bellvue is not a town for me.  I could be easily sucked into coveting.  I passed a Bentley, Rolls Royce and Jaguar dealerships.  This town has money. Oh and there are no shortages of Starbucks.  I walk into the school and easily find the group in the commons area that the chess folks call the skittles area.  We make camp and soon the festivities begin.  We walk over to the gym.  Each division that is in attendance hands out awards for their areas. Then the talk is given about rules.  JV games are posted and the kids find their seats.  The Varsity games are posted and they find their tables.  Since this is team they compete as a team.  Ferndale had two varsity teams represented, Team A and Team B.  There are five kids on each team.  The highest ranked teen on the team plays board 1 then the second plays board 2 and so on.  I think it's kind of like band. The best trumpet is chair 1 then the next is chair 2.  Anyhow back to chess.  The teams are ranked according to the combined rating of each player on the team.  Then the teams are paired for the first match of the tournament.  A win is worth 1 point, a tie is 1/2 point, a loss is 0 points.  So for each team there are five games going on during the first match.  If each team member wins that game then they as a team get 5 points.  There are a total of 5 matches during the weekend.  The first match only lasts 1 1/2 hours the rest are potentially 3 hours long.  It was an eye opener for me.  The kids sit down start their clocks and they have to note their moves and their opponents moves.  That is part of the rules.  However what was surprising to me was that it seemed like a dance.  They move stop their clock, make a notation and then get up and move around the room or go to the bathroom or get a drink.  There was this constant movement yet is was quiet; a silent dance of players.  I didn't think there would be tension in the air or that I would feel nervous but there was.  I could only take photos during the first 10 minutes of each match and really they are just moving pretty much the same piece.  I know that there are lots of different openings (movements that are made in the beginning of the game)  but some of the same pieces are moved first.  It 's the end of the game when there are little pieces left on the board and the kids are thinking and thinking that the best photos would be.  We played two games that Friday night and then camped at the Chess for Life classrooms.  Elliot Neff was very generous but I think he wanted to talk and talk about his school.  By 10:30 at night the kids were tired, they had used their brains all day and still needed their stuff unpacked.  We set up the girls in one room, the boys in another.  The next day after a less restful sleep, we were up and out by 7:30.  The kids went to breakfast and I went to the YMCA for a workout and a much needed shower.  Then to Starbucks for a coffee.  I sat in my van eating my breakfast of cheese, croissant and salami that I had brought talking to John on the phone.  I finally showed up to the tournament around 10:30. Little did I know that I had the team chess clocks that they needed for the tournament.  Ooops.  They were able to borrow others so it was no problem but a little scramble for them.  They were part way through their first match of the day.  I would get the scoop and each time one of the players walked back into the skittles area they'd give thumbs up for a win or thumbs down.  Ferndale A took 7th at state, Ferndale B took 15th (first time the B team qualified) and the champion of the JVs was from our club.  Isaac's friend Ben Witzel bet the 4th, 3rd and 2nd place person to go undefeated winning all five of his games.

Isaac preparing with his coach to play against the current State Champion.
He lost but gave him a run for his money.

Checking standings and scores.

Congrats - Ben

I was approached for my photos of the tournament and so realized that I should take more of just our team. The last two matches I took photos of some more of the colorful kids.  It was an eye opener for me in that I take many soccer photos but chess is different. Oh and I started a doge ball game towards the end of the day.  The kids just needed to blow off some steam.  They had used one of those claw machines at breakfast to obtain these small rubbery squishy balls.  However it didn't go over so well with the janitor.  He was a little bit mad.  It was all in good fun, no one was going to get hurt and there was no way anything could have broken, even the lights.  But well sometimes, others don't understand. I'm sure they burned 2000 calories a game just using their brains.

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