Lake Buena Vista, FL
At each of the scholastic nationals events they hold a four round game/45 tournament open to parents, siblings, coaches, etc. The players in that event team up with a kid who’s playing in the scholastic event. They add the score of the parent, coach, etc to the 4 round score of the kid. They give trophies to the top scoring team in different categories such as father/child, mother/child, sibling/child, coach/child, etc. This would be my second attempt in this tournament, teaming up with one of the kids from the team that I help with the coaching duties.
The problem is the coach/child category is always the biggest one, and there’s always some coach with a 2200+ rating that cleans up. He’s usually matched up with some kid who has gone 4-0 or 3-1 in his first four rounds. I need to be in some obscure category like aunt/child. The problem is my nephew most of my nieces are too old for this event. The one niece who is still in high school doesn’t play chess. Somehow I’d have trouble passing myself off as the aunt or cousin of any of the kids on this team.
If you think kids’ ratings are meaningless, you should see some of these parents’ ratings. Some of them only play in this event, but spend the rest of the year being their highly rated child’s personal sparring partner. Even though the wall chart says the player is only 1100, in reality he’s probably stronger then that. It seems I forgot that lesson I learned in Denver earlier in the year at the Elementary Nationals.
In round one I faced a parent rated in the mid 1000s. If I thought I was in for an easy game, I was wrong. He played the opening solidly, and I got too cautious. My timid play and poor clock management would come back and bite my in the butt.
I've directed hundreds of scholastic tournaments over the years. I've had my share of encounters with psycho chess parents who have gone nuts over pairings, tie-breaks, trophy size, rulings, what other parents or kids are allegedly doing, etc. This tournament would introduce me to a new encounter with psycho chess parents.
So having lost the first round, I was a little leery when in the next round I got paired against another parent with a similar rating. I sat down at the board, and noticed he had no score sheet and no pen. I calmly said, "Excuse me, but you're required to keep score in this section." He tells me that he's not going to keep score because I have such time advantage because I'm using a Mon Roi. I try to explain to him that; one score keeping is required and; two it's not the big time advantage that he thinks. In round 1 I had one of my time pressure induced implosions and flagged in a position down the exchange.
He didn't want to hear about that. He was adamant about not keeping score because I was using a Mon Roi. He thought it was totally unfair that such a device was allowed. I rarely get into arguments with players, but I finally went and got the TD. He explained to the opponent that he had to keep score and that if he didn't then the TD would have to make a ruling. The TD said if he don't like the ruling he could appeal. At this point about 15 minutes have gone since the start of the round. I knew if the opponent appealed it would probably be another 10 to 15 minutes getting the floor chief, explaining the issue and getting a ruling. Finally I said to the TD "Just give me a score sheet, and I'll write my moves down instead." I think the TD was tremendously relieved that I did not want to push the point further. At this point I just wanted to get on with it.
This satisfied my opponent, and the game started. It turned out this was much ado about nothing. I think the dispute took more time to resolve then the actual game. Here is the game.
In light of how this game went, it was apparent that this was a very inexperienced player. It turned out his 1169 rating was based on his 4 games from a past Parents and Friends tournament. If anything he was probably overrated, unlike my first round opponent who was underrated. I think his issue with my Mon Roi was that he really didn't know how to keep score very well so he thought I was getting a huge advantage over him by being able to keep score on such a device. My reaction to him was stemming from my first round loss to a player of similar rating. Having lost on time in the first round, I did not want to give in on a point where I felt my opponent would gain time.
The tournament didn't get much better when in the third round a parent got upset with me because I asked his son to please not to stand next to me when watching our game. I just don't like people standing right on top of me when I'm playing. I like my space, and it bothers me when people hover too close. The dad freaked out because he thought I was accusing his son of helping him. I'm not sure how asking somebody to not stand over me can be interpreted as a cheating accusation. The game ended out being a draw.
At the end of the game I apologized for making him feel as though I thought his son was doing something wrong. I tried explain that it can disturb a player to have someone standing so close. I just need my space. It doesn't matter who is watching, if he's too close I'm going to ask the person to move back some. He told me I was taking this way too seriously. I was taking this too seriously? I wanted to tell the dad to lighten up, but he was just too freaked out. I found out later that the kid wasn't having a very good tournament, so dad was kind of stressed about that.
How much worse could it get? Would I get into another argument? No arguments. However the whole ugly tournament would come to an end with a fitting conclusion. I got paired down again. This time I would be playing a 1283. It was a tough game. I was actually up a pawn, and then needlessly fearing a discovered check, I tossed the extra pawn, and then another one. Then we were both racing our pawns down the board, but I had one of those moments where I think I forgot that knights move in an L shape. In the position below I found the worse move possible.
Black plays 45...b3??
I think anyone who knows how to move the pieces can find White's 46th move. Rb8#
After that tournament I swore I'd never play in another Parents & Friends tournament. However 4 months later I would add Missouri to my states played list by playing in the Parents & Friends at the 2007 High Nationals in Kansas City, MO.