Sam, Brian, Danny, their cousins David and Nicholas, about half of Brian’s class at school-school, and hundreds of other kids are competing for trophies, scholarships and rating points in Ohio this weekend.
I wastexting a friend about how things were going this morning, and she wrote back, “Sorry, I don’t speak chess” … that made me laugh, but isn’t it true, how you somehow acquire the language of each of your children’s activities? I fear, however, that I will always be far more fluent in violin and chess than in “soccer as a second language”
Above is Sam. We went into this weekend thinking that of the five dehority/ghosh boys, he had the highest chances for winning a trophy taller than George.
And then Danny… this nationals is for kindergarten through ninth grade, so he’s one of the youngest here. Despite that, he’s playing his very best … but last night he ended up really, really tired after a long game. The time control, meaning what the kids set their chess clocks at, is G 120. So each player has 120 minutes to make all their moves, and games must finish within only four hours. Little kids, however, usually don’t use all their time.
Here is the view from the balcony. See all the people?
Next, look at the picture of poor Danny, more than two hours into a late night game yesterday.
Danny is in the red shirt. Poor guy, he couldn’t figure out why his opponent was just sitting there, not making any moves. After two hours, the other kid had moved only 17 times, Danny 18. Finally, when everybody else around them had finished, Danny raised his hand and asked a TD (chess judge) to come over. Turns out that the other kid was stalling because he usually gets nervous when he’s in an important game and just loses REALLY fast. So his coach told him that if he could be the longest lasting player there, he would give him five dollars. OOOHHHH!!! Danny was SO MAD! He was tired and wanted to just win and get it over with, but he got so upset he lost his concentration and ended up with a draw.
and this here is my sweet nephew Nicholas. I’m not sure how many years the ghosh family has been joining us for nationals, but it’s a great way for cousins to spend time together.
And Brian… wearing his lucky hat. Very icky lucky hat, and I can say that because I’m the one who knit it 🙂 But it might be working, or it’s the moments that Brian and I have spent holding hands before each match and offering them to God… prayers, works, joys and sufferings… but however, whatever, Brian is doing far better than we had expected… far better even than his chess master coach, who is here with us, expected.
This picture might need a little explaining for moms who don’t speak chess. The guy in the white shirt is my nephew David. He is the same age as Brian. His opponent is the guy in yellow. I was up in the balcony, watching the game through the super zoom lens of my camera. Notice that David, who is playing on the black side, has this whole long row of white pieces in front of him, that he captured from the other guy. The other guy has a short row of black pieces to his left that he captured from David. In chess language, we would say that David was therefore ahead in material. I couldn’t tell who was ahead in position from where I was… until I saw David reach over, pick up his captured queen from the other guy’s little row, and PLUNKED it down right in the middle of the board. It was so much fun to watch him get the chance to promote a pawn in such an important game, and then be able to go down the stairs and tell the rest of the family anxiously awaiting news from inside the tournament room what had just happened. He obviously won that game in short order.
Other than sneaking up to the balcony occasionally, parents and coaches aren’t allowed in the room during matches. So what do we all do while the kids play, and what do the kids do between matches? If you asked a group of twelve year olds, they’d say, “Play chess, duh!” And so they do. Above is the classic chess variant called bughouse. For the non-chess moms, here’s what happens. four kids play with two sets and two clocks. It’s speed chess, so FIVE MINUTES TOTAL per team per game. The kids play in teams, and the “variant” part comes in when one person captures a piece, he passes it to his partner, who is playing the opposite color, so that the partner can place it on his board and add it to his game. Crazy, crazy, crazy, but fun.
Bughouse isn’t Emily’s best chess skill… she’s more of a traditional sort of girl… she and Jane played today in a side tournament for relatives and coaches of the players. It’s a tough tournament, since many of the players (like my kids) have serious master level chess coaches. They determine standings in this tournament by adding the total number of points won by the coach or relative to the number of points won by their associated player in the regular tournament. For example, Jane was paired with Sam, so they add their wins… Emily was paired with David, so they get the sum of Davids score and Emily’s score. Why those matchups? Because within the relatives and coaches tournament, they have divisions… father/player, coach/player, brother/player, etc… and this just might be Jane and Sam’s third national first prize championship in the AUNT/player division… usually because they are the only ones entered. But still. And Emily is certain that the competition in COUSIN/player wasn’t much stiffer.
and then there’s George. We worried about keeping George entertained at Nationals all weekend. Not a problem. He kept US entertained very nicely.
Tomorrow, scores and results. But now, all my little (and not so little) chess players are asleep, so I need to go to bed, too.