So yesterday was a fun and exciting day for myself, a big change from my normal routine. I was invited to help arbitrate a local scholastic chess tournament at a nearby elementary school. This was offered to myself and a good friend of mine since we both are members of the Brock University Chess Club and both of us had worked with some of the kids in previous programs offered by Chess Nation.
So there we were in a elementary school gym with approximately 155 kids ranging from grades 3 to 8 along with parents and teachers. Our job was to basically answer any questions from the students/kids and to ensure the games moved smoothly. It was definitely fun but quite exhausting, especially when similar questions and issues came up over and over again. In particular, it seems a decent number of the younger students (think grades 3 – 5) were having trouble using the en passant rule whereby the pawn-take-pawn rules change slightly. Many were confused about when it can occur and others believed it could be done against other pieces, ie a bishop or a knight. Frankly, I don’t even use the en passant rule much at all when I play so I think maybe these kids need to slow down and not worry about such a move just yet but whatever. The other top question was asking me whether a certain position was indeed checkmate, stalemate, or not at all. As an arbiter, I’m not really allowed to tell you whether some position is a checkmate or not so I had to try and force the kids to think about it and make a logical decision themselves. There was one moment where a parent somehow got around to their child’s board (the parents were supposed to stay off to the sides) and suggested that some position was not a checkmate as had been decided on by the two students playing. Obviously in those circumstances I have to just explain that if the two players agree to checkmate or stalemate or a draw even if it wasn’t exactly such, the agreement stands. This was a scholastic tournaments so there was no ratings or even recording of the moves played (that would have been Hell!) so it’s really on the more leisure side of things and just for fun.
Regardless, I made it through the exhausting 5 rounds and all the noise and rush of youths running around and yelling and screaming. Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad though so I enjoyed my several hours (9am – 2pm) and even got a free lunch out of it, woo! What I did enjoy the most was watching the grade 8’s play. The grade 8’s, although not massively skilled at chess, were playing a lot more sophisticated when compared with the lower grades (as to be expected). I was able to talk with several of them and watched as one of them who I actually taught chess last year, play some excellent games for their level. The dude I taught last year even got second place, which I thought was awesome as he went 4/5 that day, only losing his final game. It got me thinking about how I wish I had these sorts of opportunities when I was younger. Due to constraints at the time, I never was able to do after-school sports or activities like so many others had. Although it didn’t seem like that big of a deal at the time, I think it did kind of hurt my social life. But hey, too late to worry about it now, just gotta work with what I have. I also mainly wish I played more chess and was more serious about chess when I was younger, I might have grown to be a much better player than I am currently. Again, oh well nothing I can do about it now.
Anyways, that’s my post for the day (meant to be posted on Saturday but here I am in the wee hours of Sunday morning finishing it up lol). I’ll probably post more stuff soon, just gotta get around to it.