By Tim Brookshear
The Thursday Throwdowns were started in an effort to maintain an evening tournament in the Decatur area. They are loosely modeled after the Tuesday night tournaments that were run on a weekly basis at the Atlanta Chess Center for around twenty years. When I started this tournament at the end of 2012, I decided to hold them on Thursday evening since I already hosted a Tuesday evening club at the North DeKalb mall food court twice a month. Both the Ironman Chess Club and the Thursday Throwdowns would not have been possible without the support I have received from Steve Schneider and Championship Chess.
We have now held 22 Thursday Throwdown Tournaments, beginning at the Church of Decatur Heights, where the Ironman Chess Club was held for well over a decade. In July of last year we had 51 players one evening. I think this is a Georgia record for a weekday evening tournament. Sadly, this outstripped the facilities at the old church. The AC failed and the playing room was crowded. After that the attendance fell off. We moved to North DeKalb Mall where conditions were better. We did a few sporadic tournaments with reasonable turnouts through the school year and this summer have set up a full schedule of events that are posted on the Championship Chess website as well as the GCA site.
The format has been the same throughout. There are two sections: a Premier section and a U-1600. One must have a rating of at least 1500 to play up. I guarantee $140 in prizes and the EF is only $10 if paid online and $12 at the door. Over the run of the tournament we have had the pleasure of seeing players such as former Georgia State Champions David Vest and Damir Studen. Last week we had former Georgia champ John Austin in attendance. Players rated over 2000 who are regulars include Frank Johnson, Alan Piper, and David Lorentzson. At the 21st Throwdown, my longtime student, Richard Lin, ended a long period of inactivity and went 3-0, pushing his rating over 2000.
Special mention must be made of fellow player, teacher, promoter and director Frank Johnson. Frank has played more times than anyone, has brought in his friends and students, and spread the word to the community at large. GCA volunteer Parnell Watkins, who hosts a Friday evening club at Gwinnett Place Mall, has also brought in many of his club members. All 22 Throwdowns have been ably directed by longtime GCA volunteer Michael Matthias.
The 24th Throwdown will be held July 10th, with the first round at 7 p.m. The room is near the Wendy’s restaurant in the food court. The AC is good and the lighting is great. Special features include our Slingshot award for the person taking first on tiebreak in the U-1600 section. This entitles you to a free entry to the Premier section at a future Throwdown. We also offer free entry to anyone playing in their first tournament. They must purchase a USCF membership, however. We give this same deal to rated players who have not played in over two years. Prizes are always raised if the turnout is over 30 players.
We have had many young players really improve their rating and gain valuable experience in the U-1600 section. Although I have often heard the saying “if you want to be good at chess, you have to get used to staying up late,” we offer a half point bye in any round so that those who prefer to be home earlier can still participate. It is a fact that the kids who win the top prizes at the State level scholastic events all, yes all, play in some of these open events with adults.
Since we have to pay for a whole day in order to secure the facility at North DeKalb, we have decided to hold one day camps on the days of the Throwdowns all summer. National Master Vest and I will be the main instructors. For $50 you get a day of instruction and tournament style training games. This includes a $5 lunch credit and EF to the Throwdown that evening.
I really appreciate the GCA online editor for asking me to write a piece about the Thursday Throwdowns and hope to see many of you this summer.
Coach Tim Brookshear
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