Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chess Anyone?

A couple years ago I posted about the time vortex that is the phenomenon of Little League. But that was before Chess Team. A Little League baseball game last two hours tops. Earlier this month I experienced a chess tournament which involved leaving the house at 8:40 am and returning at 6:30 pm. If it were an event for myself that would be one thing, but this was for R, age 5, member of the national elementary school champion team. Of course the team won the national championship last year when R wasn't even at school, but he did have to try out and make the team. He has been diligently attending practice every Monday and Friday after school this year. Sadly, I haven't been as on top of his progress as I should have been because of work, but the recent break in my schedule freed up that particular Saturday for R to make his chess tournament debut.

Since it was his first tournament, R was in the unranked K-8 division. Five rounds, with each successive round determined by winning or losing the present one. This tournament didn't have a kinder only division so in one of the rounds he played against a 12 year old. Yes, R lost. He is no Waverly Jong. In fact, he lost every single match. But I was proud. He played through every round with a great attitude. Not once did he say he wanted to quit. Not once did he complain or cry about losing. He was there to play chess and he did.

During a walk to the Bay at break time
About half an hour after his last match, he got a nosebleed. It was the first sign of how tough it must have been for him mentally, emotionally, and physically (later at night he cried out many times because of pain all over his body). I knew we needed to leave before the awards ceremony so I asked the organizers if he could have his medal and leave. I also pointed to the line on the registration form that said every kinder would get a trophy. They tried to argue that it was a mistake and he shouldn't get a trophy for losing every match. Hello, chess administrator, you're talking to an attorney. The registration form was an offer, not mere puff. I paid the fee and you registered him so there was an acceptance. He is getting that trophy! Yes, I fought for and got R a trophy for losing. I used to say that getting a trophy just for showing up was ridiculous. I used to say I would never want that for my child. Ahh, the lessons we learn about ourselves through parenting. 

Here is my reasoning. There are many things in life where you get kudos just for showing up and completing. That day Stewart was somewhere in the middle of California completing the Tough Mudder 12 mile obstacle course. Stewart was out there for almost five hours. When he entered the last electro-shock obstacle, was knocked down by the shock and got through by crawling to the finish, he deserved a medal for completion. When I ran the NYC Marathon, I got a medal for finishing, albeit 2 1/2 hours behind the winners. When a five year old plays chess for eight hours, yes that's a marathon and he can claim a trophy without an ounce of embarrassment. Hopefully it will be the encouragement that he needs to get to the next tournament. I promised him that he wouldn't have to play against 12 year olds, though.

R received his United States Chess Federation membership card last week. He has officially entered cyberspace. If you go to the website you can find his name on the list of players. CHECKMATE!