Robert (gurdonark) wrote,
Robert
gurdonark

From small acorns do wiggy scrub oaks grow

In Southern California, the Angeles National Forest features lots of thick chapparal--little trees and bushes termed "elven forest" by some.

My favorite "elven forest" inhabitant is the scrub oak, a six foot high little oak in miniature which looks like, well, scrub. It's tenacious, it's unruly, it looks like it needs a good combing out, and it's utterly charming.

Today I ran my first Texas chess tournament, the Plano Kazoo Quad. I rented a small room at Plano Centre, the convention center fifteen minutes from our home (one town over).




When I arrived, the center had everything in readiness, just as agreed. The fresh-baked cookies appeared early in the morning. I broke my vow of cookieabstinence, and can report that they were quite sindelicious.

The format of the tournament was "quad", which meant the entrants would be split into groups of four, in which each group would play a double round robin. That "quad" proved to be prophetic, as we had only 4 attendees for the morning tournament. I had hoped to have 10 to 20, so four was a bit on the modest side.

But we had great fun. One fellow, rated an "expert" (one class below master), was playing in his first tournament in years. Another fellow, aged 14, was playing in his first tournament ever. My nephew had just gotten word that his rating has jumped five hundred points in the last six months, and I was playing.

My brother and his wife gave me for Christmas a pullover shirt which has the club name, North Texas Blitz Hegemony, emblazoned tastefully where the shirt pocket would ordinarily be, as well as the title "tournament director" where the other pocket would be, festooned with a tiny sketch of yellow, red and green chess pieces. I wore it proudly.

I had a good result at the tournament. I won both of my games against the new player and my nephew, and I split my two games with the expert.

My sister-in-law and my nephew went to Tony's Cafe, which is a local old-fashioned breakfast joint type place, where a really charming Greek-American waitress warmly welcomed us, because she knows my sister-in-law. The reuben sandwich was quite good. Then, after a brief stop at their house to relax, we headed back to Plano Centre for the afternoon blitz chess tournament.

We again had but four for this one, although an 1800 player came and the 14 year old newcomer did not play. Instead of a tournament, we just played game after game of blitz chess. My wife came to visit, and chatted with my sister-in-law. My nephew's chess teacher told my sister-in-law that she is the best kind of "chess mom"--she sits in a corner and reads her book, and never tries to give hand signals to her son on how to move.

Meanwhile, a Dallas Morning News reporter and photographer came to "cover" our tournament. They were so nice, and I did not feel abashed at all at our small turnout. I found it more challenging to explain some of my various eccentric credos in person than I do in weblog, but that it only to be expected. I got a nice article yesterday in the "things to do" weekend section, and now we may have an interview. I'll keep my eyes peeled.

I sent to the national chess people an ad for the Carrollton
Kaleidoscope Prize Octos. This time I will have "real" prizes, so try to encourage attendance. The prizes will be as follows:

"First place in each octo section: $ 100 and a cheap kaleidoscope. Second place in each section: a free lunch buffet at Karahi [a Pakistani] restaurant (just one floor away) for one and a cheaper kaleidoscope. Third place in each section: an incredibly cheap kaleidoscope".

I will donate a bit of money to the Goodrich Center, for whose benefit I ran this tournament. One kind chess parent even helped defray a bit of expense, which I considered most courteous even though slightly unnecessary. But what a day this was--I am glad I did this.

On the whole, I do not believe that the acorn I planted sprouted a mighty oak. I lost some money on the tournament, and I got four entrants when I hoped for triple that. But I am glad I took a risk, and I will take similar risks again.

I will fine-tune the tournaments until they are break-even, and build up a little club. I see this little club clearly in my head now, and in my heart, and all I need is to work to make it happen. I believe there's a place for chappral amid the giants in the woods. I'm growing scrub oak, and I hope other gardeners will continue to join me.
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