Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Big Battle in Brooklyn - Day 1

I'm interrupting my USATE reports to write about the Justus Williams - Joshua Colas match that's being played today and tomorrow at IS 318. Justus and Joshua are friends and rivals. They were on the same team this past weekend at the team tournament. They are the 2nd and 4th ranked 11 year olds in the US. Both of them could possibly be the one to break Kassa Korley's record of becoming the youngest African-American master. Kassa became a master at the age of 15.

Even though they play in many of the same tournaments they've only played each other once. They drew in the 5th round at the 2009 New York State Scholastics. They played a blitz match back in the fall that Joshua won. After the blitz match Shaun Smith of Chess in the Schools wanted to put together a four game match at a slower time control. The match was finally arranged and scheduled during the mid-winter school vacation break. At the same time as they were playing their match, Chess in the Schools hosted a free tournament at IS 318.

Shaun Smith had given me a flier for the event and suggested that I come down with Joshua. This chronic chess addict could not resist the chance to play more chess. I guess six games over the long weekend wasn't enough for me. Besides I wanted to be there for Joshua. I've known Joshua since he started playing back in 2005. I've watched him go from 600 to over 2100 over these last 5 years. I remember the first time I played him. He was totally winning, but played too fast in my time pressure and I pulled it out. I would beat him a few more times, but eventually that changed. In our last 13 games, I've only won once.

Joshua's dad picked me up around 8:15 this morning. The entire family came down so it was little crowded in the back seat. We were supposed to get there by 9:00 am. Driving to Brooklyn during rush hour is an adventure, especially when one isn't 100% sure where they're going. We missed one exit, but fortunately there are multiple bridges that lead to Brooklyn. We were getting a little nervous as to whether we would make it on time.

We did finally made it. However just because we were in the building, didn't mean we were in the right spot. They sent us to the cafeteria where there were a bunch of kids sitting around. I didn't recognize any of the kids, but that didn't concern me. However after awhile we were wondering where Justus was. Finally we find out these kids are not there for chess. They're going on a trip. Somebody finally pointed us to the right spot.

IS 318 has an outstanding chess team and has won many national championships. They take pride in their chess teams and have banners for each of their championship teams. It's pretty impressive walking through the hallways and seeing how many different events they have won as a team.
Home of chess champions

Chess mural in the hallway.

Originally Justus and Joshua were going to play downstairs in the teacher's lunch room. However Shaun was having trouble with the internet connection downstairs so they moved the match upstairs to Assistant Principal John Galvin's office. It was nice and quiet up there.

Not a bad day to be sent to the Assistant Principal's office.

Justus and Joshua in their first game.

Joshua Colas

Justus Williams

While Justus and Joshua were upstairs there were 31 players in 7 quads. We played 3 rounds of Game/45. I ended out at the bottom of quad 2. Shaun asked me if that was okay. I was fine with that. He said he figured that would be okay since he reads my blog, and knows where I like to be in be in a quad.

I had a rough outing. I ended out seeing the same attack whether I was White or Black. That's the problem when I play the English. They just play against it as if I'm playing the Sicilian. I got a little tired of 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. f4 Bg7 5. Nf3 d6 6. O-O Nf6 7. Qe1 O-O, etc. I defended fairly well, but somehow they kept managing to win a pawn and then finish me off in the endgame. Tomorrow I'm playing 1. d4

We were set up in hallway, that was nicely lit. Lots of windows with the sun shining and good lighting. It did get noisy at times, but Mr. Galvin tried to keep the kids quiet. I used noise canceling headphones to resolve the problem.

The quads. That's my first round opponent in the foreground.

Quad 1 included 2009 6th grade champion, James Black.

Getting ready for my last round game.

Mr. Galvin shows off his end game technique against Randy Rivera

Quad winners

Quad 1: Matheu Jefferson 3
Quad 2: Rahwaiz Abdul-Rahman 3
Quad 3: Randy Rivera, John Galvin, Aleem Awan 2
Quad 4: Talitha Santana 3
Quad 5: Kamil Chmielewski 3
Quad 6: Roberto Jimenez 3
Quad 7: Jessy Ramirez 3

In the battle of the J's Justus won the first game with White. Joshua rebounded to win the second game also with White. Josh seemed pretty relaxed even after losing the first game. Justus seemed to not be quite a relaxed after losing the second game. At first I thought Justus might have the home field advantage playing at his own school. But I think in some ways it adds extra pressure, especially when he's being followed around by the people doing a documentary on the IS 318 chess team. As we were leaving Justus was getting ready to do an interview.

Our car ride back was also and adventure. Josh's mom came to pick us up. She had come down in the morning so she could see how to come and get back, but that didn't prevent us from missing another turn and having to fumble our way through Brooklyn. Fortunately there are signs pointing to the various bridges and highways so we eventually to make our way to a road where we actually knew where were going.

Josh and I talked a little bit about his games, and then he was content to goof around with his older brother and younger sister in the backseat. It reminded me a little bit of the road trips I took with my family as a kid. I think about all the times my sisters and I would drive each other crazy in the car, and then in turn drive mom and dad crazy. I like how Joshua can play two intense games of chess and then just turn it off, relax and just act like an 11 year old kid.

Tomorrow will be rounds 3 and 4 of the Justus - Joshua match. I will take another crack at resolving some of my issues against that damn Grand Prix Attack. Look for more pictures, hopefully maybe a short interview with the boys and some games. It should be quite an interesting day.


chesstiger said...

Sounds like an exciting match. I hope tomorow (today?) both players win their game with black so that all is even. :-)

The quads system is not well known in Belgium, hardly ever played. Swiss (with exelerated first two rounds so now and then) and closed format is usely used.

Hope second day is a better day for you. But then again, you are probably playing against underrated kids so every point you get will be good.

chessdrummer said...

Kassa Korley made master at 15 years, two months.

Latisha and Justus williams said...

Polly I just have to say that I absolutely love your blog site!!! You are hysterically funny just as you are in person. Thanks so much for supporting the J vs J match and participating as well. Your presence added a specialness (if that's a word) to the event because Justus and I usually only see you at MCC. Thanks so much!

Polly said...

chessdrummer: Thanks for the exact age. They're are certainly a number of young players who will probably break that record in the next year.

Latisha and Justus: Congratulations on the match. I enjoyed coming and seeing where Justus goes to school. I hear and read so much about IS 318, so it was interesting to actually come to the school. Mr. Galvin was going to give me a tour of the chess room, but I never made it up there.

I hope sometime we will have a rematch up in White Plains. A home and home series.