I’m on the train coming home from the NY State (Scholastic) Championship in Saratoga Springs. Only half of us made the train, comically: we met an hour beforehand in the hotel lobby, but every cab company said it would be a couple hours (because it’s raining?!). James Black’s dad talked a newspaper delivery van into taking as many of us as could squeeze in amongst the bundles of papers. The train was already in the station when we arrived, and we ran like lunatics to catch it. (Un?)fortunately for Galvin and the five kids who couldn't fit, the remaining train today is sold out and the bus is $45 one way (x 6), so they are staying in Saratoga another night.
The kids played remarkably well: I didn’t fully realize this until Matan pointed out they weren’t hanging pieces in ridiculous ways like they did at Grade Nationals. One sixth grader, Kevin, spent 20 minutes (in a G/60) in the position after 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3. I’d just taught him the slav the night before, and I’d mentioned we would learn the semi-slav next (since 4...dxc4 doesn’t make much sense in that position—white can just play 5. Bxc4). So Kevin spends 20 minutes thinking about this position, trying to figure out the semi-slav at the board, and it just melts my heart: this kid was 600 2 months ago, is now 1450, and clearly is already a very serious player.
Kevin on move 4
Maya McGreen had a terrific tournament also, beating Lilia Poteat (1930) and another 1800, and gaining 100 rating points for a new high of 1623.
James Black writes in his chess journal.
I basically don’t do endgames with my kids, mostly because I believe you hardly get (nontrivial) endgames until you are 2000 or so, especially in the G/30 that my kids normally are playing. However, I have one kid, Randy, who goes into rook endings all the time and wins 95% of them. He’s really a specialist/ magician. I think I’ve learned more about technique in rook endings from him than from anyone or any book.
I had an idea for a charter school. It came to me at Amateur Team East, when I was yelling at my students for holding the North American Wrestling/Pillow-Fighting/Screaming Team Championships in room 539. I thought, ok, they can’t help it, they’re children who have been sitting still all day, so I took them to the exercise room. And then I thought: if I had a charter school, I would have mandatory forced runs for the first 90 minutes of school, and then when they are so exhausted they don’t even want to talk or fool around, then we have class. Also, they will not be obese.
How bizarre are the attacks on Michelle Obama for promoting healthy eating? It’s amazing: I’m starting to think even if her cause was cancer research, republicans would be saying “why is the government interfering in our lives?” My favorite was Rush Limbaugh’s comment, “Our First Lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you." The first lady isn’t slutty enough?!
I’m reading a couple of interesting books: The Next Decade: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going (George Friedman) (I also enjoyed his earlier book, The Next Hundred Years), and The Emperor of All Maladies (Siddhartha Mukherjee), a very enjoyable history of cancer.
Nationals are coming up. I think we are taking a small contingent (8-10) to girls nationals (Chicago April 9-10). Then we will take 58-59 to junior high nationals. I have no decent teams in any under sections this year, but I don’t care at all. We used to win those sections all the time a few years ago, because Chess in the Schools used to send in their tournament results really really late. But when you think about it, winning an Under section just means you have the most under-rated kids in the country. congratulations. Maybe they are under-rated because they got a lot better between the cutoff for the rating supplement and the tournament because you are an amazing amazing teacher, or maybe they are under-rated because someone artificially kept their ratings low, but who really cares? Winning an under section is a nice personal accomplishment, I'm not taking away from that, it's a impressive feat to go 7-0 or 6-1 or whatever, I'm just saying it's of absolutely no national significance.
We’ll split the open section kids: put the top ones in the K-9 and the rest in the K-8 and see if they can win both. I'm proud to say we have 41 kids over 1250. Aside from obvious benefits of depth (someone can’t help but have an exceptionally lucky tournament), it also means I can do a lot more opening prep before rounds than most coaches.
We’ll also go to high school nationals, just the top 10 kids or so, and if I can convince Galvin that we have a decent shot of winning elementary, we might go to the k-6. My life dream is to win the elementary, junior high, and high school, all in the same year. I understand this makes me an egomaniac.