Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Few More Grey Hairs, A Little Less Grey Matter

What is more likely to cause this article title to occur? Getting beat by a bunch of 10 year olds, or trying to direct a tournament with 200 kids? It depends on who the 10 year olds are or how crazy the tournament is. Today I think I would have preferred the 10 year olds feeding on my rating points. I guess these two things should have told me it was not going to be an easy day.

1. No tables set up in the playing room.

2. A substitute janitor who hasn't a clue.

What else could possibly happen? I guess Murphy is a scholastic tournament organizer.

We stagger the start times of the various sections. The top two sections with the slowest time controls start at 9:30. At 9:45 we start the Reserve Section, 10:00 Primary, 10:15 the two unrated Novice sections. In theory this system works well, and for the most part it does. As entries come into me, I focus on the ones for whichever section is due to start next. However today seemed to be one of those days where parents and kids kept changing their minds in terms of what section to play in, or I put someone in the wrong section. Putting a second grader in the K-1 is not a good thing. Then there are the no-shows and re-pairs on the floor to get everyone a game. Someone else makes all those changes, and then I have to decipher the notes on the pairing sheet. Sometimes I'm still trying to figure out the changes as I'm putting results in. In one case today a player was substituted, but no one told me until the second round had started and the sub couldn't find his name. Fortunately that was easy enough to fix since the original player was still listed. Just another thing to fix before round three.

In no particular order these are some of the fun things in the day of a scholastic chess tournament director.

Which square is the queen on? If it's on one square it's stalemate, if it's on the adjoining square the opponent's king has a move. Neither player is keeping score. Fortunately I was busy with computer stuff and did not have to get involved with that one. That's always a tough one to call. I hate those decisions. All one can do is listen carefully to what each player says and how they show what they think happened and rule accordingly. It was ruled a stalemate. At first the father of the kid with the queen was ticked off, but after hearing the TD's reasoning felt it was correct.

Two rounds later this same kid is seated at the table next to where I have my computer set up. The father tells his son to play slowly, and use more time. He pleads with him to use more then a minute. The time limit is Game/45. Before the round starts the kid and his opponent take every piece on the board, adjust and switch them around. Finally I tell the kids to stop changing the pieces around and to start playing. A few minutes later I look up and the kid is just moving instantly. He now has promoted two pawns to queens. He forced the opponent's king down the board using the two queens, and it looked like he would checkmate using the ladder mate. However they reached this position.

What I've noticed often with young kids is that they're great at doing the ladder mate until the king is covering the square that they want to put the next checking piece on. After 1...Qf7+, 2. Kc8 the natural move in the pattern would be 2...Qb8+, except that Kxb8 eliminates the mate. The inexperienced player does not see 2...Qc7#, or 2...Qe8#. Black hesitated at this point. He picks up his king, and then puts it back down. It seems he realized that he shouldn't be moving the king. He reaches for one of his queens but the opponent calls him on the touch move. Black tries to say he just reached for the king but didn't touch it. Having seen him pick up the king, I tell him he has to move the king. He moves the king and says "I got stalemate." Total time used by Black; 1 minute 35 seconds.

After the third round starts a father comes up to me and tells me his son's score is wrong. When I hear that I'm always concerned that I put the result in wrong. I proofread my input very carefully, but sometimes I still screw up. He tells me his son lost in the second round, but it shows him as having drawn. I find the pairing sheet and it indicates a draw. I show it to the dad, and says "He told me he lost. Go over and ask him or the girl sitting next to him. She beat him." I look at the pairing sheet and it looks like someone had written over the original 0-1 with 1/2 - 1/2. I asked the two kids what happened, and they both agreed the girl won. Neither one had an explanation for how the result got changed.

That was a new one for me. Unfortunately usually when I've seen a result been changed it's been a case of the loser changing it to a win for himself, and telling his parents he won. It's only when the opponent complains about his score being wrong that I find out what really happened. It's sad when I see a child cheat like that. Either he's putting too much pressure on himself, or the pressure is coming from mom and dad. Wherever the pressure is coming from, it's not a good thing for the kid. Fortunately I really don't think that was the case here.

I had another result that was totally unintelligible. Both boxes where the score goes were completely penciled over so I couldn't read the score. Very faintly I could kind of make out a 1 and a 0, but I didn't feel like guessing. I had somebody go find out the actual result.

Not all players are like me when it comes to getting a bye. One player comes up to ask me what "See TD" means. I told her we had an odd number and she was getting the bye. She pumps her fist and says "Yes!" I didn't bother to ask her if she wanted to see if she could get a game.

I think the one question I hate the most is. "Will x points be enough for a trophy?" This question usually gets asked when over half the games are still being played, and I have no idea how many trophies are actually being given out.

I didn't see this one, but one of the floor directors told me that when a kid promoted to a queen he took one of the rooks he captured and turned it upside down. He was white and his second queen was an upside down black rook. Needless to say the TD was a little confused by what was going on in that game until he asked.

The pairing software is PC based, but I run it on a Mac Book using Parallels. I love my Mac, but most of my chess software needs Windows so I fudge it with Parallels. It never fails, just when I'm trying to get pairings out, or change something I'll get some annoying message saying. "The Parallels application has stopped unexpectedly." Duh. That's rather apparent when all I see on the screen is my Mac desktop and an Excel spreadsheet running on Office for Mac. Fortunately today it was a minor hiccup, not one of those "I want to punt this friggin laptop across the room" blow outs.

I'm sure I've forgotten half the crazy stuff from today. I swear every time I see blown mates and weird openings by little kids my chess ability declines another 100 rating points

However the thing I love the most is submitting the rating report online, writing this blog post and going back to the MSA and seeing that the tournament has been rated. Hopefully I won't get a phone call or email saying "Nice job getting the tournament rated promptly, BUT there's a wrong result." I've had the happen twice lately, and both times it was the result of my own game that was wrong. Today I can safely say my game won't be reported incorrectly.


likesforests said...

lol. I don't know how you do it!

Polly said...

Me neither. By the end of the day I'm totally fried. :-)

liquideggproduct said...

If you ever got around to writing a book, this post's title would also fit well for it.

Polly said...

LEP: LMAO!! I love it! I've actually had people who have heard me tell of some of my chess experiences from the 70s and 80s that I should write a book. So If I ever do, I'll keep this title in mind, and give you full credit.

Brenda said...

This had me rofl! I have done a Rookie Rumble for the last 2 years that has drawn 60 and 100 players. I can't even imagine 200!

liquideggproduct said...

You'd give me credit for using your own title for the title? Not that I'd complain, but...

Before you jump into it, though, writing a book is hard work. Or so they say.

Polly said...

Brenda: It's taken many years to learn how to deal with lots of players. Fortunately pairing software like Swiss-Sys or Win-TD makes life a lot easier for tournament directors. When I first started we did everything on pairing cards. Imagine pairing 200 players that way. The most time consuming part was writing out the pairings and filling in the wallchart.