By Laura Doman
And they’re off! Over 160 kids in grades K-12 came out on a beautiful fall afternoon to jump start their chess skills at the 2014 QuickStart! tournament. Held on Sunday, October 5, the kids and their parents crowded the Marriott Atlanta Perimeter Center hotel and came away with trophies, participation ribbons, and prizes of GCA car magnets and a free USCF memberships to the top performing non-members in the tournament.
Led by a team of tried and true volunteers (and a few assorted chess moms!), the tournament ran efficiently and on schedule. Tournament Coordinator Tricia Hill didn’t even let her birthday get in the way of overseeing operations, though Lead Tournament Director (TD) Susan Justice managed to surprise her by engaging the entire tournament hall in singing a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday,” capped off by delivery of a giant flaming cupcake from her husband Brian.
Susan noted that the QuickStart! attracted a nice group of kids. “For the most part, there was very good sportsmanship and good competition. I like to emphasize to parents that the children are learning larger life lessons through chess. There was one instance where a player was making noise and annoying his opponent. The opponent raised his hand for the TD to issue a complaint and the player was given a verbal warning. The poor behavior continued, however, and the opponent went on to lose the game without summoning a TD a second time. This scenario gave the opponent’s father and me a good opportunity to talk to the child about asserting his rights and being persistent. It also gave me the opportunity to pull the player who had annoying behavior aside before the next round and let him know that his behavior was affecting other people. I told him that if he did not conduct himself properly in that round, he would be forfeited. Not surprisingly, he was then very quiet during play. Valuable lessons were learned on both sides!”
The tournament had four sections of play, based on grade level: K-1, K-3, K-5, and a combined 6-12 grade section. It can be challenging for a young middle school player to be pitted against seasoned high school competitors, but chess is one activity where skill can outweigh age. Susan observed that “one of the younger players in the 6-12 section was very excited to win a plus-score trophy. Finishing with 2.5 and in 7th place, he was not expecting to also receive one of the free USCF memberships. Upon finding out that he not only got a trophy, but also a membership, he expressed his excitement to me and said what a great feeling it was! I thanked him for coming to play, and he said, “Oh, I wouldn’t have missed this for the world! Not for two worlds!” Comments like that can make a tournament volunteer’s day.
The youngest children are often the most enthusiastic, especially after a big win. Or even an unexpected win due to an opponent not showing up to play. During the second round, one of the K-1 players had to wait at her board for 15 minutes for an opponent who did not show. Meanwhile, there was a player from the K-5 section who had a “please wait” bye and was waiting for a game. As Lead TD, Susan explained to the young girl that she would get a point because her opponent forfeited, but offered her the opportunity to play an extra game against the older player. The little girl wavered, saying that she wasn’t sure about that, so Susan asked if she wanted to go talk to her mom about it. The little girl shook her head and said, “No, my mom is not here. My dad is here.” Susan laughed, “I love how children are so literal! I assumed that she was hesitant to play because her would-be opponent was much older. We went to find her dad, and I explained the situation to him. He told her it was fine to go play the game and that it would just be for practice. She just smiled, jumped up, and shouted, “Yeah!” She confidently went to the board and faced her opponent. Although she went on to lose the extra game, she took notation while the older player did not and thereby had an excellent opportunity to review her game and learn from the experience. I loved seeing her enthusiasm and joy!”
Indeed, the QuickStart! has a more informal feel to it than most other scholastic tournaments. First, it was primarily an afternoon tournament, rather than one that ran for an entire day. Second, it was unrated, which encouraged many new players to experience chess in a tournament format for the very first time. It also gave experienced players opportunities to try out new openings, strategies, and tactics in a less stressful atmosphere. Third, there were more seasoned kids who were able to try out the flip side of a tournament and volunteer in important capacities.
Samhitha Dasari is a freshman in high school and an experienced player. She was also one of the TDs, joining a strong team who worked well together: Ben Johnson, Elena Gratskaya, Chris Ferrante, Ed Paguaga, Jayashree Sekar, and Susan Justice. This was Samhitha’s second tournament as a TD, and she excelled as the section chief for the K-1 players and as an extra set of eyes on slow-moving games that required the introduction of a clock to speed them along. Talk about the opportunity that chess afford to students! Playing is one thing; helping to direct large student tournaments is quite another – excellent experience for the student, valuable help for the tournament and parent volunteers.
Samhitha was not the only student who helped with QuickStart! Third graders Katie Hill and Drew Justice worked together to set up all the 80+ boards. Drew also set the clocks, while Katie helped with the clean up afterwards. Fifth grader Zoe Justice was instrumental as a TD assistant and in running simul games in the tournament hallway with Coach Carlos Perdomo and 9th grader Sanjay Ghatti. All four students enjoyed contributing to make this first tournament of the school year special. Most of us know that parent/child involvement is one of the best ways to introduce our kids to meaningful community service. Chess is one more avenue by which we parents can role model these values, especially when our kids can join in to make the experience that much better for other children.
With large sections and only four rounds of play, there were quite a few ties and many kids vied for trophies with the same point scores in hand. One of the challenges was to explain to the less experienced players how two seemingly identical scores could result in different place trophy positions. This is where tie-breaks come in. The tie-break system is based on the strength or performance of one’s opponents — strength of schedule, to put it in college football terms. Those who have tougher matches because they have stronger opponents (by virtue of their opponents’ USCF ratings and their performances in this same tournament), have their scores weighted more heavily than those playing in less challenging situations. Tie-breaks are used almost universally, though they occur less often when a tournament has more rounds or when fewer players are competing with a section.
That being said, many players were awarded with plus-score trophies for scoring more than half of all their possibly available points. With a maximum of four points, scores of 2.5 were deemed worthy of plus-score trophies. Those placing in the top five spots of their sections were awarded with trophies. See the end of the article for complete results.
The winners of the K-1 section included:
1. Mickey Pancih
2. Rehan Simpson
3. Ayush Pawar
4. Dheemant Parashar
5. Pranav Paruchuri
The winners in the K-3 section were:
1. Efetobo Aror
2. Katie Hill
3. Jackson Cloud
4. Walker Paxton
5. Olivia Resnick
The K-5 top place winners were:
1. Kavin Jayavel Kumaresan
2. Drew Justice
3. Caleb Ouanounou
4. Matthew Njaa
5. Laolu Oguneye
The combined middle school/high school 6-12 section recognized these top scorers:
1. Asaru Jordan
2. Brett Morrison
3. Anish Kumar
4. Prabhanjan Nayak
5. Chance Phillips
Congratulations to all of our trophy recipients! We appreciate you and your parents coming out to play some chess on such a lovely early fall afternoon. Please check your calendars and register for next month’s Grade Level Championship on Sunday, November 9, which will be held at the same venue. Kids only play other kids in their own grades! It’s fun and exciting, and we look forward to seeing you there.
To view pictures, please go to https://www.facebook.com/georgiachess.
K-1 Full Results
|11||Ganesh, Samanyu Kr||414||2||-N-||W18||W12||L2|
|18||Thomas, Shaan Jose||101||1||L10||L11||-B-||L16|
K-3 Full Results
|2||Hill, Katie Kay||820||4||W35||W37||W11||W7|
|3||Cloud, Jackson Hol||514||4||W60||W29||W9||W6|
|7||Ganesh, Saanjali K||475||3||W39||W18||W24||L2|
|8||Fang, Andrew David||410||3||W47||W15||L1||W31|
|9||Rupp, Alexander Wo||368||3||W46||W22||L3||W36|
|10||Kantor, Trey Dougl||417||3||W48||W27||L6||W21|
|13||McBride, John Arch||308||3||W25||W33||L5||W32|
|16||Wu, Justin Hongyua||116||3||D26||W56||D20||W29|
|21||Polk, William Eart||2.5||D44||W45||W26||L10|
|41||Robinson, Ross Lon||434||2||-N-||W65||L22||W43|
|58||Hood, Preston Grah||110||1||L6||W60||L33||L25|
|67||Light, T. Henry||0||L33||L49||L50||L63|
K-5 Full Results
|1||Jayavel Kumaresan, Kavin||1612||4||-X-||W13||W8||W5|
|9||Njaa, Nathaniel Da||497||3||W29||W24||L6||W22|
|19||Will, Heather Mich||309||2||W27||L2||W39||L8|
|26||Garner, William Ch||2||L7||L20||W37||W36|
|30||Shaaya, Matthew Al||1.5||D17||W43||L16||L10|
|35||Xu, Justin Nolan||205||1||L10||L18||L32||-B-|
|36||Newberry, Joshua C||1||D32||L15||D31||L26|
|45||Lo Monaco, Jean Marco||0||L23||L38||L28||L42|
Grades 6-12 Full Results
|2||Morrison, Brett Da||1225||3.5||-X-||W7||W5||D1|
|9||Jordan, Amun ra||2||L5||L4||W19||W13|
|20||Shivdat, Shawn Shi||0||-F-||-U-||-U-||-U-|
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