Search This Blog

Thursday, March 19, 2009


The kids are cooking Dinner


"Just because he's Cowboy doesn't mean he's part cow." said with total exasperation.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Kings and Armies

Today the kids and I set off on another new experiences.
It was their first Chess Tournament!

It was the **** County School District Chess Tournament, they had to sign agreements that read:
The *CSD chess tournament will be run under United States Chess Federation rules.
I agree to abide by the rules of the USCF and **** County School District.
Needless to say it is a big change from our full contact play.
As we registered we met the lady who ran the chess club at the younger one's school. She surprised me when she warmly greeted Thunderous and then went on to say how he helped her run the chess club at the school. He teaches the younger kids and shares all he knows, plus learns from them. He has settled disputes and helps clean up after the meeting is over.
Don't you love finding out how special/talented/important your kid is to something you didn't EVER hear 'em talk about. What I thought was most amusing is she didn't know Monsters name, even though she was in the chess club as well.
We had to register Eldest because she hadn't decided if she wanted to compete till about 2 mins before we left. She had been kinda mad at chess since her school had a boys support group in the form of a chess team, and they didn't have a girls counterpart. I suggested she ask about about one just for girls . We talked about how it might help the girls as well and it may be more fun or relaxed for them to learn if it was only girls. She plans to ask the principal or the counselor, I think she will send an email, she likes to do that.
SO back to the Tourney...
The first round was supposed to start at 9 am sharp, the man who was in charge had a thick English accent and little attention for anything but the game itself. He seemed to think everyone knew what he was doing and why...apparently we can all read his mind... and always seemed surprised when he looked up from his papers to see parents still there. I rather liked him.
He was, of course, thrown off by the fact that the majority of parents showed up for the registration at 9:oo rather then 8:30. (I'm glad that I was there with the kids on time at 8:30)
So the tourney started late, at a bit after 9:30.
The kids were matched up according to grade level. Which means each of my kids were in a different level and spread thru the whole cafeteria. I walked up and down the line to watch each game. Thunderous was hugely impressed that I knew what happened in all of their matches. Eldest took it in stride as one more of those odd MOM powers.
Chess is a hard thing to be a silent spectator of. You would see a move someone could make and watch to see if they would do it. You were yelling in your mind the move you saw... "Look at their king look at their king!" or "AAAGH! Your Queen, your queen!" but you could only bite your lip and watch.
Eldest was matched up with the only 8th grader, whose confidence oozed out of every pour. I watched as he grew more and more confidant and she became more and more frustrated, she started making errors. I thought his handshake at the end of the match was rather smug. But later when I had Thunderous and Eldest doing a practice match he came over and played too, telling them moves and loving the camaraderie. They invited him to come play at my cafe the next Friday and Thunderous found out he liked Magic the Gathering and told him about the group that meets on Saturdays, you never saw a kid so happy to be excepted by the cool kids. (Shows how oblivious I am, apparently my kids are the cool kids... I have no idea how that happened. Is this their way of rebelling?)
Thunderous was matched against a kid from a different school. He took the game extremely seriously. He was methodical and precise. Thunderous loved the game, but didn't win. He kept saying afterward, "I Lost to a little kid!" I reminded him size has nothing to do with brains.
Monster was matched to an other girl. Her match was going well but slow. She was one of the last done. And her game changed the tournament.
The tables were mostly emptied. She and her partner were the only one at the table. I'm not sure why but an adult wandered to the table and began to talk to them. At first we thought he was a judge. I started to get mad and so did Eldest. He was giving strategy to the other player! At first we thought he was explaining a rule or two. But in the end he was cheating.
He wasn't a judge, he was a family friend of the other player.
Monster was declared the loser by them. She had only her king on the board.
After a family conference that had no resolution I told them they were the participants they were the ones who needed to handle it. So they did. They talked to the lady second in charge. Explained the situation, the other girl was questioned as well.
In the end, they did not get to replay, the loss stood. But they called the judges to a meeting and banned the parents from crossing a line of chairs that had been placed. They also said any player that someone from the sidelines was trying to signal would be disqualified.
Better late then never?
Basically this was the LARGEST turn out they had ever had at the tournament and they were SO NOT prepared. This was over twice the size of the last largest tournament, that had had 18 this was at 47 kids. The parent judges were only supposed to judge on if a move was legal or a checkmate was solid IF the players signaled them and asked. Which lead to MANY questionable wins.
The final round Thunderous found out that a there was a difference between chess club rules and tournament rules (something he plans on changing in chess club). He cleared the other players pieces except the king, he thought he had a win (and if you recall the same thing had happened to Monster and the other player was given the win). Turns out it is called a draw in the tournament. He never recovered from that. Monster did the same thing to her opponent that round as well. So she received the Draw points as well. Eldest did not fair as well. She won none of her matches, but found her strategy got her closer to wining each time and was growing more confidant. She was sure she would win the next round! Thunderous just wanted to go home. He was devastated that he wouldn't win a trophy.
We all laughed when Thunderous realized he was in the middle again... middle child, middle one done, and middle on points: Eldest 0, Thunderous 1, Monster 2 (we say it should have been 3)
Without telling anyone what he was doing the head guy set certain kids to play offs...the rest wondered around in confusion. I don't like confusion so went and asked the 2nd in command to explain. She had to ask number one. Then announced to the group that this was the finals. if you weren't playing in it you weren't getting a metal. But they had certificates for everyone.
The kids pointed out that everyone there was a follower and would have milled around in confusion if we wouldn't have asked. They have been pointing out lately how no one wants to lead so everyone follows and don't even notice where they are going. I think that is a good thing for them to notice. It has made them ask questions and make their own decisions, mostly for the best, and not just do something because everyone else is.
They were annoyed now that so many intelligent people were followers, and just wanted to go. That and they hadn't placed.
They love the certificates and at their request we will be getting them framed so they an hang on the wall in the hall. They have to earn the money for the frames, but each has picked a job to do so. Eldest the laundry, Thunderous will build a dog house, and Monster will bake muffins for this weeks breakfasts.
On the way home we talked about how it was a game Kings played and how the pieces were different divisions of the armies. We don't know if they had specific ones assigned to them but we imagined the knights as the Calvary, the rook as the archers, the pawns as the infantry... Thunderous said every time he imagined the pieces as parts of an army he lost. The imagination interfered with the logic of the moves.
WE heard some funny things while there.
One was a judge explaining to a first grader:
"I win!"
"No, you have to say CheckMate."
she looks at her pieces, then at the judge, "I win."
a 4th grader:
"Does he get a penalty for a victory dance?"
a 7th grader
"Do you have to be a certain height to play?"