Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How Important are Tournaments to Scholastic Programs

One of the best ways for young players to improve is to play in tournaments. Tournament play provides an environment to foster team comaraderie, as well as a more focused effort in games. Unfortunately, for many programs here in the South Suburbs, it is extremely difficult to get kids out for tournaments. Some of this is due to conflicting events like soccer and football. There is also the perception of scholastic chess being just an individual sport. I would argue that it is even a better team sport. In chess, everyone has a chance to score for their team, there are no arguments about who gets more playing time or who gets to play what position.

One teaching group in Arizona believes in the benefits of tournament play so much, that they give the teacher a significant bonus if 90% of a teachers students play in a tournament during the semester.

Lately, I have been trying to put together incentives to turn the chess clubs at the schools I teach at into teams. What do your programs do to get good tournament turnouts?

Friday, October 19, 2007

The TDs perspective

One of the things I was hoping to do with this blog that would make it different from many of the other chess blogs, is to give the perspective of events from the Tournament Director. I have seen blogs from players, parents and coaches of players, and they have been great. As a TD though, I am in the room, and get to see many of the games and hear the stories from the event. Every TD has a selection of great stories. One of the highlights of national events is to sit down over a meal and swapt them with each other. Many of them have recurring themes, the overzealous parent, the clever child trying to pull a fast one, the random act of kindness, and many others.

This past week I have been working on an essay of how to run a successful tournament. I hope to be able to post this in the next week or two. If anyone has a question or topic that they would like to be addressed, drop me a comment.


Friday, October 12, 2007

A proud moment

When I was growing up in Orland Park, there were no scholastic tournaments close by to play in. I was lucky there was a club at all when I hit Junior High. I have been determined to see that other kids growing up in the area would get the chances to play in events that I never had.

Tonight, I ran a 48 player event at St.Als/St.Pats in Lemont. Now granted, I have literally put together events 10x that size. What made this one special? 7 different schools, all with programs showed up. Team awards for first place were handed out to St. Als/St. Pats, St. Mary's, Noonan, and Cardinal Bernadin. That my friends is Parity, not the more commonly used Parody that we used to here. The seeds for a league have even been planted to grow this niche ever further

There was much joy in my heart seeing the students play out the event. And big props to Melissa McGuire for putting the event on.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

It takes a village...

One of my concerns in chess these days is the potential decline of the governing bodies. The USCF forums have become a cesspool of politics, personal attacks, and personal interests above all else. Nearly as disturbing to me is the complete apathy of the Illinois Chess Association.

Now don't get me wrong, I am very reluctant to criticize a volunteer organization like the ICA. However, I hear comments from players complaining that the ICA does not provide them value for membership, I have heard the same from the scholastic crowd, and also from the organizers. Can this be fixed? I think so, here is what I would do if I was the ICA president.

  1. Bring back the printed ICB, sure it costs more, but it is the only thing that members have for their money.
  2. Institute programs to promote chess, events like scholastic clinics, free ICA tournaments, publicize teachers, and events.
  3. Provide services and try to repair some of the scholastic rifts that have formed.
  4. Try to form a US Chess league team.
  5. Try to bring more national events to IL.

Tomorrow I will go more in depth as to how this could be done.


Monday, October 8, 2007

Parent's dinner and a movie chess nights

Well, I am back from my trip to Denver. I did try stopping by the chess tables at the outdoor 16th Ave mall in downtown Denver. For those of you that have never been there, about 4 stone chess tables are located in the middle of the street (no cars on the street if you were wondering) and are almost constantly inhabited by local enthusiasts. I was looking for some games, but it was during the Rockies game 3 win, so the area was deserted. Maybe next time.

This Friday evening I am directing a moderately sized scholastic tournament in Lemont from 6pm-9pm. I have also done similar "mini-camps at other schools for that time frame. I find that many parents enjoy its as it leaves them just enough time for date night, while the kids enjoy and event of their own. It always surprises me that other schools don't try the same thing. As an aside I am always willing to help put this type of event on.

Does your school have any interesting traditions or events that aren't very common or are unique?