Cheryl, reporting from home base in Chicagoland.
If you read my huband's comments on the morning post you know that at some point while he was going for coffee the game took a turn for the worse (from Trevor's perspective, anyway). Phillip called at about 1:30 Chicago time to let me know that Trevor had lost. :-(
It's okay. Trevor has been here many times before. How does that old saying go . . . the "thrill of victory" and the "agony of defeat"? "Thrill" and "agony" are pretty fitting words for the roller coaster ride that is the typical chess tournament. This tournament in particular, pitting as it does a group of young players who are so similarly talented and equally matched, means that the ride is going to be even more harrowing than usual. There are slight ratings differences among the players at Denker, but they are slight, and any one player is capable of vanquishing any other player in any given game. Trevor was the underdog in this round, by virtue not only of his rating but of playing as Black. And yet the result could have easily gone the other way, and no one would have been surprised. Every competitor at Denker knows how amazing every other competitor is. That is what makes it so special.
One of the things I have come to deeply appreciate about the world of chess is the cameraderie of it. How many times have I watched as Trevor, after experiencing a dizzying win or a devastating loss, has left the tournament room with his opponent, only to immediately find an empty table or open spot on the floor where the board is rolled out yet again and he and his opponent set about analyzing the game they just finished? Sometimes it goes on for an hour, as the winner and loser consider together where the loser went wrong and how the game might have played out had he made another choice at this or that point. Does this sort of thing happen anywhere else? Maybe. But I don't remember the last time I saw two football, basketball, or tennis players spend an hour after their game going back through it step by step as they play out other ways the game could have gone.
The chess world is not large. One sees the same names at tournament after tournament after tournament. Trevor has repeatedly played many of his Illinois chess friends in competition. Right now in Skokie, Illinois, the family of the young man with whom Trevor tied at the Illinois Denker Qualifying Tournament is watching and cheering for Trevor as he gives this his best shot. (Although Trevor and his friend Eric each had the same number of points at the qualifying tournament, Trevor squeaked through on tie breaks.) If the shoe were on the other foot, we would be doing the same. Next year Trevor and Eric and the rest of the top-rated Illinois high school chess players will again contend for the Illinois Denker title, and each of them will give it his all, showing no mercy, playing to "kill." And yet after the dust has cleared, they will smile and shake hands and study their games together and play some "skittles" (chess for fun) while wishing the victor well as he moves on to Nationals.
So here we are, more than halfway through. Wow, it's going fast! No matter what happens, the memories that have been made and the things that have been learned will be a part of Trevor and will return home with him. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. There are two rounds left to be played. And I have a feeling Trevor is already looking to the future.