Strong Performance at 2013 SuperNationals in Tennessee
The Chess4Life SuperNationals team of over 40 students traveled to Tennessee over the first weekend of April to compete against talented K-12 players from across the country in the SuperNationals Tournament. The team traveled with three coaches, including Coach Roy Almasy, NM John Graves, and GM Emil Anka.
Throughout the weekend, as Coach John Graves put it, "Team comradery was fantastic, along with the parents and the coaches. It was a great time of bonding--a lot of fun." The team did extremely well, with the K-5 team finishing 2nd in the nation, and the K-8 team finishing in 7th place. "The kids were confident--not too many nerves," said Coach John, "It was a great experience." Great job, team!
For many Chess4Life students, SuperNationals (which only takes place every four years) is the culmination of many years of hard work. It allows students to put what they have learned into action, representing not only themselves, but their entire team.
One of the Chess4Life families in attendance at SuperNationals, the Clays, posted a video to YouTube documenting their trip. Click here to view the video!
SuperNationals Reflections from Chess4Life Student Dorian Clay
A long-time Chess4Life student, Dorian Clay, posted the following SuperNationals reflections on his blog:
I just came back from the 2013 SuperNationals chess tournament!
To get to SuperNationals, which was in Nashville, Tennessee, my family and I had to take a 4 hour plane trip. Once we were in Nashville, we stayed in a gigantic hotel with over 5,000 other participants! The tournament itself lasted 3 whole days with 7 rounds total. Each round can last 4 hours.
In my section (under 1000 rating), I tied for second place and got sixth place on tie breaks. Though this sounds really good, I was playing in a rather weak section, and should have gotten first place.
I got 6 points out of 7, which, as I said, wasn't as good as the expected 7. And yes, 1 point is the difference between 1st place and 6th place. It would have been very easy to have done worse than I did, because to do worse, all I have to do is not try as hard, which is...very easy.
To prepare for SuperNationals, I did chess tactics on CT-Art, took chess lessons from a coach, and played a lot of practice games.
My coach taught me about the importance of the two bishops, and how to get good minor pieces. He also gave me a larger repertoire of openings.
Doing tactics on CT-Art has made me more aware of tactics, and has taught me patterns, so I see tactics quicker.
Of course, playing many practice games allowed me to practice what I was learning, and find where I could improve.
I found that I performed much better at SuperNationals than I did during my training. I think there are several reasons for that. The first and most important is that I had much more motivation to do well. Also, I worked hard preparing for the tournament. And finally, there was actually less noise at SuperNationals (I'm usually distracted by noises). Even though there were more people, I couldn't hear what they were saying.
After we came back from SuperNationals, I was thinking about the lessons that I learned, and I found multiple things.
First, winners do not rely on others to be weak. Winners care about their own performance, not other people's performance. This basically means that winners will do their best, at whatever they're doing, regardless of what other people do.
Also, I learned that you should set lots of achievable goals for yourself, and then not mess them up. I chose to compete in the "Under 1000"" section, rather than the "open" section where the top 150 players have ratings over 1500. If I would've played in the open section, the best score I could've hoped to achieve would be about 4 wins and 3 losses. But, in the U-1000 section, if I don't make any mistakes, I should have 7 wins and 0 losses. I have found in school, life, and chess that it's better to set achievable goals and not make mistakes, rather than setting very high goals that are not achievable. Real life is more about not making mistakes than performing miracles.
As I wrote about in "Freddie Loses His Game," if you are a learner, you are a winner. In the tournament, I lost the first game, which put me out of the running for the 1st place trophy. I could've quit, right then. But, I kept going and I won all the rest of the games. I learned the lesson in the first game that I should've been more careful. Being careful and not making mistakes has always been my challenge. True learning is "doing" what you learn. I am happy I am learning to be more careful and I am "doing" fewer and fewer mistakes. That's why I play chess-to learn to do my best.
Remember, if you're a learner, you're a winner.
Whittier Elementary School Exemplifies Teamwork and Sportsmanship
Upon walking into Whittier, a well-decorated trophy case is clearly visible. Success, however, is only a result of Whittier's tremendous school spirit. All ages, genders, and skill levels enjoy one of the biggest chess clubs in the Seattle area. Such diversity speaks for itself in the intermediate group, in which there are more girls than boys!
Team spirit plays a key role at the Whittier chess club. Kids are always ready to play Bughouse, a variant of chess played with a partner. Recently, the advanced players cheerfully teamed up with the intermediate group to help teach them tactics and checkmates. Not only did the students have a blast working together to improve their skills, but it was clear that this is a club that values community-oriented learning.
At the end of every club, all the groups gather together and share what they learned for the day. "Checkmate!" shouts the beginner group. "Back rank mate!" yells the intermediate. "Mate in three!" cheers the advanced. The kids are often shocked when they find out they all practice the same skills day in and day out, if only at different degrees of difficulty. The path to playing strong chess is as natural as coming to school and having fun.
Chess at Whittier is not just an afterschool program, but an intricate part of the school's culture. Thanks to the help of dedicated parent volunteers, it is not just the kids sharing in the fun!
Coach Keith Huntzinger