". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Kings Island

My 15-year-old son plays competitive chess. He's good at it--really good--so good, in fact, that he has moved largely beyond scholastic (youth) tournaments and primarily plays open tournaments (involving players of all ages and levels). Even though we live in the Chicago area, where there is a large and active chess community, there are not as many opportunities for him to play here as he would like, so periodically we find ourselves traveling to neighboring states for a tournament. Two weeks ago the tournament trail took us to the Kings Island Open in Mason, Ohio. Usually Trevor is accompanied by one parent (my husband and I take turns), but in this case the chess entourage included not only Mom but little brother and sister as well.

The tournament site was the Kings Island Resort & Conference Center (right next to the Paramount Kings Island Amusement Park). The tournament sponsor, Continental Chess, negotiated an awesome room rate for participants, so we enjoyed a resort atmosphere at a budget hotel price.

Here's a picture of our accommodations . . .

. . . and the view from our room.
The amenities included a playground which Trevor's younger siblings enjoyed making use of.
Mom and little brother even got in some tether ball.
There were other amenities available that we did not make use of, including an arcade and pool (one of us accidentally left her swimsuit behind). Mostly we enjoyed reading, eating, walking, blogging, watching movies in the hotel room (we finally saw The Princess Diaries six years after its theatrical release), and sleeping.

And oh yeah, one of us played some chess! Because he is moving beyond the "shake hands with your opponent and smile for the camera" phase (some of his opponents are middle-aged and older people who frankly don't care to smile for the camera), I don't have any photos of Trevor from this trip. But I am exceedingly proud to report that in his rating class (Under 2100) Trevor was one of three players who tied for second place. There was also a tie for first place, so those two players split the first and second place prizes, and Trevor and the players with whom he tied split the third, fourth and fifth place prizes. To see the final results, click here and scroll down to the Under 2100 list.

People tend to be highly impressed when Trevor brings home prize money, but frankly what interests him more is seeing his rating go up, and that happened again with this tournament, as he gained 15 points (moving from 2003--just barely an Expert--to 2018--an Expert with a little cushioning!). On the final night of the tournament, I was approached by a young man in his twenties who reminded me that several years ago he had played Trevor in the Chicago Open (Trevor would have been 10 or 11 and this young man 18 or 19 at the time). He shook his head, remembering the boy he had played and the fact that at the time he and Trevor were in the same rating class, but observing that now Trevor's rating is more than 400 points higher than his. Smiling ruefully, he asked me how these young players manage such huge leaps forward. I told him what I have been told by other chess parents--that something seems to happen in adolescence that spurs a cognitive explosion, and it is common to see the young chess player experience remarkable improvement in a short period of time. But I also shared that Trevor's improvement is the result of serious study and hard work over the last five years as he has taken lessons from Grandmaster Yury Shulman and spent countless hours reading books about chess and analyzing games, both his own and those of others. Excellent performance in chess, as in anything else, is not just a matter of talent but one of skill as well, and that skill is only improved with long hours of study, hours that Trevor has most definitely been putting in for years now.

Congratulations, Trevor, and thanks from your family for a great weekend!


Marie N. said...

Fantastic! What a neat experience. Having a hobby that pays for itself is wonderful. How much the better when the hobby provides for itself plus a little more.


Cheryl said...

Thanks, Marie! But I wouldn't say that this hobby pays for itself. The cost of lessons and entry fees and study materials and travel far exceeds the money that has been won (at least so far), but the prize winnings do help to some extent with expenses (we take a portion and let our son keep the rest, which he typically saves.)In addition to Trevor's occasional winnings, we are assisted by money from grandparents. And to be honest, we would not be putting so much money and time into chess if we viewed it as only a hobby. We believe there is great potential for Trevor's chess passion to ultimately open some scholarship doors for him.

AmusedMomma said...

How exciting to see Trevor's skills developing and increasing! Congratulations!

I love how you write about this making it accessible and interesting. There's always so much more that goes into something we've "mastered" than people realize. Thanks for explaining it so well.


Barb the Evil Genius said...

I just realized that King's Island is not Paramount anymore. It's owned by Cedar Fair who also own Cedar Point, Knott's Berry Farm, etc.

Congratulations to your son.