Elementary Nationals Day 2 Report

05.11.08 After a spectacular fireworks display at the end of the Pirates game at very nearby PNC Park, the players retired for a good night's sleep. Day 2 dawned rainy and gray again, but by late morning the sun was out revealing beautiful views of the Pittsburgh skyline. Inside, Round 3 started at 9:00 a.m., with 2,196 sunny faces (and at least as many parents, coaches and siblings).

The David L. Lawrence Convention Center, site of the 2008 Elementary Nationals Chess Championship. Image courtesy alucobond.com

ChessMaine reporter-on-the-scene Dan Fishbein reports live from Pittsburgh and the Elementary Nationals Chess Championship. You can keep updated with round by round results and pairings here. You can also watch selected live games at MonRoi.com.

Much thanks to Dan Fishbein for filing this report.

Day 1 ended with a second round that extended well into the evening for many participants. For the Maine contingent, here are the Round 2 results: Matthew Reale-Hatem drew with Christopher Galarza of New York; Olivia Reale-Hatem lost to Robin Lopez of Maryland; Zach Hamilton lost to Christopher Feener of Georgia; Matthew Fishbein lost to Michael Brown of California.

After a spectacular fireworks display at the end of the Pirates game at very nearby PNC Park, the players retired for a good night's sleep. Day 2 dawned rainy and gray again, but by late morning the sun was out revealing beautiful views of the Pittsburgh skyline. Inside, Round 3 started at 9:00 a.m., with 2,196 sunny faces (and at least as many parents, coaches and siblings.) The Maine contingent started the morning with mixed results. Matthew Fishbein got a win over Robert Berk of chess powerhouse Hunter College Prep in New York. Matthew Reale-Hatem lost a tough match to Nathaniel Osborn of Washington State. Zach Hamilton was defeated by Max Lin of Wisconsin, and Olivia Reale-Hatem lost to Alex Pena of California. Round 4 started at 2 PM, with a strong result for the Mainers. While Matthew Fishbein lost to Timmy Duda of New York City, Matthew Reale-Hatem won a 2 hour and 15 minute match over Lovedeep Singh of New York, Zach Hamilton defeated Ben Segovia of New York, and Olivia Reale-Hatem earned a draw against Ryan Sievert of Wisconsin.

The toughest Round of the tournament is Round 5, which is the third G120 round of the day, starting at 7:00 p.m. By the start of this round players and parents alike were looking a bit bedraggled. Matthew Fishbein went to 3.0 by defeating Philip Tallo of Indiana. Matthew Reale-Hatem was edged out by Guwoin Ingram of Michigan in a two-hour game. Zach Hamilton won over Elanna Gaines of Pennsylvania, and Olivia Reale-Hatem had a bye. As of the end of Round 5, Matthew Fishbein and Zach Hamilton had 3.0 points each, Matthew Reale-Hatem 2.5 and Olivia Reale-Hatem 1.0

Other highlights of the day included a book signing by Josh Waitzkin, and numerous sightings of other chess celebrities, including Susan Polgar and Joel Benjamin.

Throughout the day this author was struck by the complete role reversal of parents and children. Most of the time we are used to the adults being the focal point, with children needing to be watched while the adults go about the important tasks. In this setting, it is the children who are the serious ones, and the adults are the accessories. During the Rounds the children are focused, determined and most of all, quiet. Meanwhile, the adults are socializing and chatting, while constantly needing to be reminded to behave themselves. In fact, on numerous occasions the TDs announced that the children were complaining that the parents were making too much noise!

However, as a parent/accessory it still somehow seems there is never enough time to do what "needs" to be done: get to the rounds on time, make sure meals are squeezed in, get reacquainted with other parents we haven't seen since the last tournament (seems like a good thing but considered bad behavior by the TDs and kids if done inside the playing hall), update grandparents on the goings on, attend the Scholastic Council meeting, take photos, review the last game, check on pairings and results, buy a new clock at the bookstore, go to a book signing, make reservations for a Mothers' Day dinner, make arrangements to get to the airport at the same time as 4,000 other people, meet with the Think Like a King guy, buy a tournament T-Shirt with his name on it, etc., etc. I think they plan all these extra activities for the parents so we can feel useful! (For a great perspective by another chess parent, see this Blog by chess dad Mark Schein.)

If you've never been to a tournament like this, and your frame of reference is a typical Maine chess tournament with 40 participants, the experience is hard to describe in words or even with pictures, but I'll try. Imagine a playing hall that is 5 stories high and an acre in size. 1,000 boards set up at hundreds of tables that don't even fill the entire hall. 2,000 kids playing at once, in silence (except for those pesky parents). Thousands of people walking to the convention center together prior to each round. People from virtually every state, and every ethnic and economic background united by a common love for chess. An entire city taken over by chess players and parents. Bewildered hotel and restaurant managers who apparently had no clue what was going to hit them--they may have been told to prepare for a "convention" of 4,000 people, but they had no idea more than half of them would be kids, all carrying those funny bags. If you haven't gone to a national event, but have considered it, go. The experience for the kids and parents alike is worth it.


Location Host Hotel & Thursday Events
David L. Lawrence Convention Center
1000 Ft. Duquesne Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Blitz & Bughouse at Westin
The Westin Convention Center
1000 Penn Ave ¬… Pittsburgh, PA 15222

7SS, G/120, (K-1 G/90). A Junior Grand Prix (JGP) event.

9 sections:
K-6 Championship
K-5 Championship
K-6 Under 1000
K-5 Under 900
K-6 Unrated
K-3 Championship
K-3 Under 800
K-1 Championship
K-3 Unrated

EF: $40 if p/m by April 16, $60 if p/m by April 30, $75 after April 30 or $80 at site.

Prizes: Trophies for at least top 25 players and teams in each section based on attendance average during the past two years. All participants will receive a medal at the completion of the final round except the K-1 Championship section, who will receive a participation trophy.

Also class trophies to the top three in the following classes:

K-6 Championship: 1200-1399; 1000-1199; 800-999; U800; unrated.

K-5 Championship: 1200-1399; 1000-1199; 800-999; U800; unrated.

K-3 Championship: 800-999; 600-799; U600; unrated.

K-1 Championship: All players in this section receive a trophy.

Unrated players may play in the Championship Sections or Unrated Sections only.

Teams: A team must have at least two players, although no maximum number of players. The top four scores in any section will count for the team score.

Main Event rounds:
Friday 1 pm, 7pm;
Saturday 9 am, 2 pm, 7 pm;
Sunday 9 am, 2 pm.

Schedule for K-1 section:
Friday 1:30 pm, 6:30 pm;
Saturday 9:30 am, 1:30 pm (not 2 pm), 6:30 pm;
Sunday 9:30 am, 1:30 pm (not 2 pm).

Opening Ceremony: 12:30 pm Friday.

1/2 pt bye any round except seven if requested in advance of Round one (limit one).

Awards: 7 pm (approximate) Sunday.

Special Events:

National Elementary Bughouse Championship: Thursday 11 am. Bughouse entries on site only. $25 per team. Bughouse Rules. 2006 version still current.

National Elementary Blitz Championship: Thursday 5 pm. Two Sections: K-6 and K-3.
Blitz EF: $15 per player/$20 on site or if after April 30. Blitz Rules. 2006 version still current.

Simul with GM Alexander Shabalov: Friday, May 9 at 9 AM. $25.00 on site registration only.

Coaches and Parents meeting: 11 am Friday.

Scholastic meeting: 2:30 pm Saturday.

Coaches Forum: 7:00 pm Saturday.

Tournament Feedback meeting: 9:30 am Sunday.

Parents and Friends Tournament: 4SS, Saturday 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 4:30 pm, on site registration only. Rated and unrated sections. Trophies for parent and child combined results.

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