UPDATE: Games are now rated and results posted at NWSRS (and also at USCF for Power and Mighty Rook Sections — or, in USCF parlance, the “Mighty Roo” section after limiting the name to 10 characters).
Ninety-eight players converged on Zion Lutheran School in Corvallis on Monday to celebrate Martin Luther King Day, play chess, and socialize with chess friends from all over the state. Players were divided into six separate playing sections based on age and playing strength. In addition to the traditional trophies for the top four finishers in each section and the critical sportsmanship awards, trophies were also awarded for “Best Handshake” and “Best Notation.”
The power section was open to all players (including adults), and players rated 1300 or higher were required to play in the section. The section attracted fourteen players with a median rating of 1560 and five players rated above 1600, making it one of the strongest scholastic chess tournaments in the state (comparable to the High School Elite Section at the OSCF State Championship). Cash prizes were awarded to the top three finishers: $100-$50-$30, with money being split in case of ties.
The three highest-rated players (David Wen, Harry Demarest, and Max Sun — all from Corvallis) all won their first two games. After his first round win, Max started asking about the prize fund. A little premature, perhaps, but in the end it turned out to be a good question as Max ended up tying for 1st. David and Harry had to face each other in the third round. After all the other games were finished, David and Harry still had almost all their pieces on the board with only a few minutes left on the clock for each of them. Neither could see a safe way to break through the long, closed pawn chain, and they agreed to a draw.
In the fourth round, Harry met Max. Again. They also played last month at the Corvallis Winter Open. Harry likes the stogid Petroff. Max likes sharp positions and tactical flourishes. In December, he played Cochran’s gambit (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nxf7) against Harry’s Petroff, sacrificing a knight for two pawns in exchange for a wild position. He saw through the mess clearer than Harry did and won the game. In January, deja vu — the story repeats. Max goes into the final round with 4/4, and Harry gets knocked out of contention at 2.5/4.
In the meantime, Jack Dale (Cottage Grove), who lost his first game, quietly marched his way up the cross-table, winning games two and three to earn a shot at David Wen, who was sitting in second place. He made the most of his opportunity and chalked up a full point to set up a final round game with Max for first place. Jack won the game to share 1st prize with Max at 4/5. David recovered nicely from his fourth round loss with a victory in the final round to secure third place.
Brave Soul Peter Kleier from Hosford Middle School in Portland (NWSRS 1276) chose to play up and finished with a even score 2.5/5, notching two 300 point upsets and setting off a rare double warning when the results were submitted to USCF, who wondered if the wrong player ID had been entered in the submitted results: (i) “Player is rated much lower than other players”; and (ii) “Player’s performance rating is more than 500 points above his current rating.” Note to USCF: “No mistake. Peter is that confident and that good.”
Sportsmanship trophies were not awarded in the Power Section, but if they had been, Tom Denison (Corvallis) would have been a likely candidate. Tom (NWSRS 925) is a chess dad who was vastly out-rated by every single player in the section, but he graciously decided to play so that the section would have an even number of players. “Vastly out-rated” by the others, yes, but it turns out that he was also “vastly under-rated.” In the first round, he defeated James Chen (Leslie Middle School, Salem), who was a 435 point ratings favorite. Two rounds later, he knocked off Matt Dalthorp in a 699 point upset. Great work, Tom, and many thanks for playing.
Mighty Rook Section
In the Mighty Rook Section, Carson Denison (Corvallis) lost his first game but stormed back with four straight wins to finish at 4/5 and sole first place. Not only did he play great chess, but he also won with class and grace, earning the Good Sportsmanship award for the section as well. Carson is a great presence at any chess tournament.
Jacob Moch (Pleasant Hill) was another classy guy in the Mighty Rook Section. Whether he wins or loses, Jacob consistently treats his opponents, friends, and TDs with warmth and respect. His classiness was tested in the G/5 blitz playoffs for breaking a three-way tie for 2nd-4th. In his game, he won piece after piece in his first four minutes to get a totally winning position, but in the final minute’s time pressure he lost piece after piece before flagging in the end. Good showing. Fourth place.
Torrey Gage-Tomlinson (Pleasant Hill) played a great game in the blitz playoffs, beating John Ornes (Corvallis) to win second place. John is a great player but had to settle for third after confronting Torry Blitz-Maniac.
The Best Notation award went to third grader, Leo Sun. There were several candidates for Best Handshake, but the award went to Jackson Christian from Aumsville.
Good Knight “A” Section
Sixteen players competed in the Good Knight “A” Section. Benjamin Kleier (Portland) joined his brother Peter (see “Brave Soul” in the recap of the Power Section) in turning in a great performance, scoring 4.5/5 and winning clean first place. Tied for 2nd-3rd at 4/5 were two players from the Impressive Pleasant Hill High School squad, Kory Schneider and Leo Barrios. (Last year the team tied for first in the high school team state championship, and they might even be a stronger team this year.) Kory won the blitz tiebreak to take 2nd place and relegate his teammate to 3rd.
Jeffery Sun (Lake Oswego) finished 4th at 3.5/5. Jeffery is one of the top 3rd graders in the state. Not only does he routinely beat players many years his senior — like 11th grader Leo Barrios in round 2 and 10th grader Sam Robbins in round 4 — he also does an exemplary job recording his games. His score sheets are consistent, complete, and clean, and his good habits will carry him far. In Corvallis MLK this year, he was so disciplined about his work that he continued his notating into the final round on board 1 against undefeated Benjamin Kleier even though it wasn’t required in his section and Benjamin was not notating the game. And the game turned out well too, as Jeffery ended up being the only player all day that Benjamin was not able to defeat. And, yes, Jeffery won the award for Best Notation in his section.
Jeffery also impressed the TD in his room for being particularly polite and helpful to his opponents. Jeffery is another one of those players that TDs and players are delighted to see on the registration list. Several players in the section (Deepraj Pawar, Thomas Kneeland, Lance Roy, Nicholas Kapple) went out of their way to be good sports, reminding their opponents to press the clock after their move. It is not required to do so, but it is a courteous and noble gesture that says, “I don’t want to win the game just because you are not accustomed to using a clock. I have great respect for you and prefer a fair fight over the board.” Taking the prize for Good Sportsmanship in the section, though, was Alexander Eisenhauer for his consistently cheerful demeanor and helpfulness. Xander always seemed alert for opportunities to lift people up. He did fine in the tournament (2/5), but more importantly he impressed people with his good attitude.
Good eye contact, firm grip, warm smile — Best Handshake award went to Deepraj Pawar. (An aside…Although she’s only been playing chess for about two months, you wouldn’t know it from the way she plays. Last week at the Thirty-Five And Rainy team tournament, she scored 3/5 and earned an initial, provisional rating of 819. That performance put her into a tough playing section at Corvallis MLK for someone who is so new to chess. Her score wasn’t the highest, but she handled the challenge well.)
Good Knight “B” Section
Twelve players were in the Good Knight “B” Section. Derek Liu (3rd grader at C.F. Tigard Elementary) won with a perfect 5/5. CFT was very well represented at the tournament with fourteen players — more than the home court Zion team (10 players), more than hometown chess powerhouses Mountain View Elementary (11) and Cheldelin Middle School (9), and more than the Impressive Pleasant Hill High School contingent (10). [Next time, there should be a school award for Most Players who attend.]
Second place at 4/5 was Yung-Jung Cheng (Cheldelin MS in Corvallis). This was Yung-Jung’s first tournament, and he is already making a splash and continuing the tradition of Cheldelin as a prolific incubator of chess talent.
Third place from home team Zion was Brian Cebra, who just got his established rating last week and now has played his second qualifier this year to qualify for OSCF State in Seaside.
Four players tied for 4th-7th — Evan Kooyman (Corvallis), Neal Ornes (Corvallis), James Peterson (Corvallis), and Sean Roberts (Tigard). Evan won the blitz tiebreaks to take home the trophy. Sean impressed the TDs with his great attitude all day long in his first tournament. He dealt gracefully with all the questions and difficulties throughout the day and earned a well-deserved Good Sportsmanship award.
The Best Notation award went to Kevin Dai (Hoover Elementary, Corvallis) and the best handshake was James Peterson’s (Zion, Corvallis).
High-Energy “A” Section
Twenty-four players played in the High-Energy “A” section, with Elliot Roberts (Franciscan Montessori, Portland) sitting alone at the top of the standings at the end of the day with 5/5. Tied for 2nd and 3rd were Trevor Thibert (Mountain View, Corvallis) and Fillip Cannard (C.F. Tigard). Trevor won the blitz tiebreak to take home the red 2nd place trophy, leaving 3rd to Fillip. Victoria Liu (Fowler MS, Tigard) and Noah Schuetze (homeschool, Corvallis) tied for 4th and 5th, with Victoria victorious in the blitz tiebreaker. Noah won the Best Notation award for notating every round neatly and carefully and showing his work to the TD.
Good Sportsmanship award went to Taylor Rowland (Trent Elementary, Pleasant Hill), and the Best Handshake award was handed to Andrea Durdel.
High-Energy “B” Section
There were twenty-three players in the High-Energy “B” section, which was played in the kindergarten classroom. All the players were 4th grade or younger. Some of the 4th graders may have been nearly too big to sit comfortably in the small chairs, but they were all good sports about it and concentrated on playing great chess. Lane Crabtree (Pleasant Hill) finished at the top of the heap at 4.5/5. A half-point back were three players tying for 2nd-4th: Dante DiCosmo (Zion, Corvallis), Harvey Beleiciks (Grant Elementary, Salem), and Max Franklin (Mountain View, Corvallis). Dante won the blitz playoff to nab the second place trophy, while Harvey got third and Max fourth.
Several players made a good impression on the TD for their Good Sportsmanship. Michelle Peterson was polite and respectful toward other players and adult supervisors. When she finished her games, she’d often watch other games in her section, showing them support and respect. Sometimes when young players watch other kids’ games, it is hard for them to understand that hovering over the board or chattering or fidgeting right next to the table can be distracting. Not Michelle. Her antennae are attuned to empathy and was politely careful not to distract or irritate. Lane Crabtree went out of his way to make sure he didn’t get any unfair advantage over his opponents and did not crush their spirits as he crushed them in the game. (Sometimes he may have even taken it a step too far by allowing the occasional takeback or postponing checkmate to let his opponent have a longer game.) Christopher Cannard (C.F. Tigard) was notably patient and polite — positive characteristics that he has developed to a commendable degree as a first grader. In the end, though, the Good Sportsmanship award went to Garrison Christian (Aumsville) for positive attitude throughout the day and for pointing out to his opponent that he was in checkmate when his opponent didn’t see it. It may have cost him a trophy, but he preferred to play it fair rather than try a sneaky trick to continue the game.
To pick a winner for the Best Notation award was surprisingly difficult. Usually in a novice, 4th grade and under section, none of the players notate. However, at Corvallis MLK 2011 four players notated: Kai Schlegelmann, Lane Crabtree, Logan Parish, and Harvey Beleiciks. It is not a coincidence that all finished in the top half of the standings, including the section champion (Lane) and one of the players that tied for second (Harvey): players who notate tend to pay more attention to the game and tend to be more careful in their play. Lane, Logan, and Harvey all had complete notation sheets for all five games, and all had wonderfully neat, legible handwriting. In the end, Harvey won the award because his score sheets had so remarkably few errors. It is hard to believe that someone as young as first grade could produce such careful, beautiful notation, but Harvey did it.
Best Handshake went to Michelle Peterson.