Friday, March 6, 2009

NY City and State Championships

We recently attended both the NYC and NY State Championships. The NYC championship was held at the New Yorker hotel in midtown Manhattan. The venue was quite nice since the playing area was in a ballroom with high ceilings. It was a step up from the normal playing experience. Unfortunately it was also extremely crowded and there was limited seating area for parents. Richie did well and finished as the highest Kindergartener with a score of 4.0/5.0. That was good enough for 10th place. His one loss came against an unrated opponent who turned out to be pretty strong and played patiently and methodically. I thought it was interesting that afterwards Richie wanted play that boy in some skittles games and at a faster pace had little difficulty winning. I mentioned to him that the reason he lost in the tournament was most likely that he was moving too fast. I'm not sure if the message sank in though because he is still a quick player and doesn't have the patience still for extended thought on important moves. I guess the maximum he's spending is 10 or 15 seconds on a move and the longer games he plays are probably a result of his opponent taking longer for their moves.

At the NY States, Richie didn't have as much success, finishing with a score of 2.0/5.0 against a pool of Kindergarten and 1st graders. He came into the event rated in the top 10, so I thought he had a chance of getting a trophy (top 20 got trophies), but a few critical errors against lower-rated opponents ended his chances. Generally speaking, Richie is unsuccessful against higher-rated opponents and rate of upset is relatively low. I would have actually thought that he'd have more mixed results against higher rated opponents and random results against lower rated opponents because I think his peak playing level is pretty high (maybe 1100) but he's inconsistent especially if he's tired. But the results speak otherwise. Richie may have gotten a little over-confident and wasn't interested in playing games or doing tactics before his matches (and hadn't really played in the preceding days). Even though we told him he didn't win enough games for a trophy he wanted to attend the award ceremony just in case. He was visibly disappointed when they finished calling out the winners. We felt badly for him but the upside is that he showed much more interest in playing again.

Interestingly, Alyssa managed to win a game against a 1000 rated opponent. She was thrilled with the result even though she was 2.0/6.0 I think her confidence was pretty high afterwards. I really admire Alyssa's fighting spirit. She has kind of come around to the game and seems to be enjoying the challenge more. She played one game that lasted over an hour and though she lost you could tell that she put all her effort into winning it. I couldn't be happier. I hope she her effort starts paying off with some more wins and higher finishes. Someone mentioned to me that his daughter really had a good time at an all-girl's event. I don't know if we can find one in the area but that would probably be a good experience for her.

I tried to inject some excitement into the game by teaching them a new opening. I called it the "secret opening" and its... a secret! Alyssa really liked the idea of springing a surprise on her opponents. Unfortunately her opponents went out of her "book" by the third move. Still she got good opening positions and really lost her games in the middle and endgame, so I guess the secret opening is sort of a success.

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