Every two months the United States Chess Federation publicizes its Top 100 lists of the highest rated chess players in the country. There are lists for the overall best players as well as for the best players according to age. Our son Trevor, a seriously competitive chess player, has been a fixture on the list for his age group for a number of years now, climbing steadily from the nineties to the seventies to the forties (a big accomplishment because it meant he was in the top fifty) and finally to the twenties.
But his climb this summer has been particularly meteoric. In April of this year he showed up in the 24th spot for 14-year-olds--cause for celebration because he was finally in the top 25! In June he had moved to 20th place. In the most recent list, posted just days ago, Trevor has moved in to 15th position for his age group. A quick glance at the names ahead of his on the current list reveals that there is not a huge difference in ratings for those players in the 10th to 15th positions.
We stumbled on to the competitive chess scene when Trevor was in third grade. He had played casually with his dad since the age of 5 but didn't start studying the game seriously until the age of 8, when my husband saw an advertisement for a summer chess camp in Chicago. Trevor went to the camp and shortly thereafter started attending a chess club for homeschoolers. Within a few months, at the prompting of the dad who had organized the chess club, we started taking Trevor to tournaments. Later that year, to our utter and enduring amazement, Trevor took home the trophy for primary (K-3) Illinois state champion. We have been in the chess ether ever since and have seen Trevor place as high as fourth in national competition.
Trevor now studies chess with Yury Shulman, a grandmaster who is ranked 7th on the list for top overall players in the country. We think that Trevor has a good chance of some day qualifying to compete in the prestigious Denker Tournament of High School Champions, in which the winners receive USCF scholarships as well as the possibility of additional scholarship money from colleges and universities that maintain active chess programs and that seek to recruit strong chess players on to their chess teams. (This year's winner receives a full 4-year scholarship to Texas Tech University.)
We aren't sure where this chess odyssey will ultimately lead, but for the foreseeable future I think chess will continue to figure prominently in Trevor's (and thus his family's) life. And as long as he continues to enjoy what he is doing and to reap the benefits offered, we will support him as much as possible. Trevor's playing schedule typically slows down in the summer (there aren't as many local tournaments, and we can't afford the cost to take him elsewhere in the country). But fall is "chess season" in Chicago and the Midwest. So don't be surprised if chess is a recurring theme here at The Round Unvarnished Tale for the next few months.