Last week, August 2-10, the U. S. Open Chess Championship was held in Dallas, Texas. Because of the length of the tournament and the fact that it changes location year to year, this is not a tournament that my son always gets to compete in. Nine days of hotel and restaurant bills? I think not. And that doesn't even take into account the cost of getting there. But as it happens, I have a sister who lives in McKinney, Texas, a north suburb of Dallas, and her house is less than a half hour from where this tournament took place. So last Sunday, Trevor and his dad loaded up the car, and two days after returning from a family road trip to Nebraska they set out again, this time for Texas. (Thanks, Sis, for being such a willing and gracious hostess!)
The traditional schedule for this tournament is one round per day for 9 days. But because not everyone can take that much time out of life to play in a chess tournament, several shorter schedules are offered. My son played on the 6-day schedule, beginning on Tuesday and playing two games for the first three days and finishing out with one game each of the last three days. Because these games can go as long as 6 hours, that means potentially sitting at a chess board for 12 hours those first three days. Can you imagine thinking--hard--for 6 hours, and then having less than an hour to grab a meal and start the whole process again?
I can't (heck, I can hardly think at all anymore, much less for 12 hours). But my son can. In fact, he actually enjoys it! And he especially enjoys it when he gets an outcome like he did this weekend. Of 9 games played, he won 7, defeating Masters rated at least 150 points higher than him in four of them. As a result of this performance, his rating has rocketed from 2052 to 2118, putting him only 82 points shy of reaching the title of Master himself and placing him unofficially at number 11 in the USCF list of highest-rated 15-year-olds in the country. He also played several FIDE (internationally) rated players in this tournament, moving him a little closer to achieving his own FIDE rating.
Click here to see the final standings in the tournament and here to see the list of prizewinners. Prizes are awarded both for the best performances overall as well as the best performances in each rating class. Trevor did well enough that he could have received an overall prize, but it was more financially rewarding for him to split the first place Expert prize than the fifth place Open prize, so that's why his position on the prize winners list is a little lower than on the standings list. (Sorry if I am getting a little too technical for some of you, but a few of my readers may actually be interested in these details!)
When Trevor called last Sunday night to tell me he had won his last round, I must admit I was surprised. As well as I know my son and the talent and hard study that have brought him to this point, I did not expect this. How I wanted to throw my arms around him and squeeze him tight! But that's kind of hard to do when you're separated by almost 1000 miles. Sunday night after the tournament ended Trevor and his dad drove from Dallas to Houston to visit my husband's parents, extending the distance between us to over 1100 miles. So I will have to wait a little longer for that hug. I think that when I do finally get one both Trevor and his dad are going to have a hard time making me let go.
It is worth noting that Trevor's coach Yury Shulman won first place two years ago in the 2006 U. S. Open in Chicago, finishing with 8 out of 9 points. At the same tournament Trevor finished with 5-1/2 out of 9 points--not strong enough to win a prize. He's come a long way in two years, hasn't he? And that is due in no small part to Yury's excellent teaching and always positive approach to motivating his students. But I fear what this means is that the day is coming when Trevor may very well have to face off against his teacher. To Trevor and Yury I say, I guess that's what you both get for being so darned good at what you do!