Ask any TD who has worked large events, and they will be quick to tell you a story. Many of us sit around and swap stories at Nationals. Since I am leaving in a couple of days to head down to Houston, I thought I might share a few.
At my very first National K-12 event, within a couple of rounds I was party to some strange things. A player smacking another player upside the head. When I got to the board, and asked for an explanation, the player explained that her neighbor had given her opponent a good move. Naturally I had to issue warnings to both the smacker and smackee.
Later in that event, an interesting thing happened, after a round a player came in with a complaint. He had been offered a pack of Pokemon cards in exchange for resigning in a position he was winning, but the opponent never delivered. Interestingly, when we asked what remedy he was seeking, the boy just wanted us to force the opponent to give up the cards. When we called the other boy in with his father, the boy confessed to what happened. The father seemed stunned, and said "I have no idea where he gets that from". Ken Sloan, who was the chief TD of the section, asked if the father issues rewards for his son winning. The father said that he gives his son 2 packs of Pokemon cards for every win. We no longer wondered where it came from. Did I mention that both of these events happened in the Kindergarten section?
I realize that these are important events, but urge parents and coaches not to put too much of an emphasis on the child's results, it does take its toll on them. If I have time this week, I will share a few more stories along those lines.
Bad sportsmanship is completely unnecessary, and oftentimes is learned from adults (which we don't like to admit). There is a group that is the self proclaimed "premier chess organization" in Illinois, they teach chess at quite a few schools, yet on their website have a link to an essay entitled "How to Annoy Your Opponent". This treasure chest of wisdom advises players to talk or cough loudly during your opponents moves, start rumors about your opponent, and other drivel that I do not wish to pollute my site with. To be completely fair, it appears to be a really lame attempt at a satire, but still has no place to be linked to by scholastic players.
So I head to Texas, where my hopes are high because I also have seen remarkable acts of kindness and compassion between players previously there at Nationals. I would rather discuss those.