Because I am unable to be with my son over the next few days as he competes at the Denker Tournament of High School Champions, I asked my husband to do some journaling about the event. Here are his thoughts from the first day.
It really is a great honor to be here. The opening ceremony was about ninety minutes long and included several speeches and moving testimonies. This is the 25th Denker Tournament of Champions, and many former participants have gone on to great things--both in and out of the world of chess.
All the participants have a little state flag by their board. Trevor really is representing our state of Illinois! At the opening ceremony all the state champions got a gold medallion--plated in real gold (so, yes, they are heavy!). They also received a thickly laminated chess card of Arnold Denker, after whom the tournament is named. The cards were signed by Denker before he died and have the notation of a game he personally picked as one of his best on the back. They also got a copy of the Arnold Denker Commemorative Edition of Chess Life magazine.
Trevor is 10th seed in the tournament, so is not favored to win, but could possibly come in the top five and get a few hundred dollars for college. The winner, of course, gets a 4-year, full tuition and room-and-board scholarship to the University of Texas at Dallas.
Right now Trevor is playing his first round*, against Matthew Parshall of Alaska. He's favored to win this, but the question mark on Parshall is his rating. Because he doesn't get a lot of tournament play in Alaska, he probably is seriously underrated.
On a personal note, I'll add that I'll miss these tournaments. Trevor and I really enjoy the times we share together. As I write this my eyes mist up with memories of playing "keep off the bed" in Pittsburgh, "There is no pawn!" in Atlanta, and, of course, the wild trip to Orlando when we almost missed our flight due to my driving to the wrong airport.
We've had some heartbreaking losses along the way--especially in the beginning. But, oh, has Trevor had his triumphs! State Primary Champion in 3rd grade; 4th in Nationals at that wild Orlando tournament; tied for 5th at the U.S. OPEN last year, and now, Illinois Denker champion.
Earlier tonight, at the ceremonies, one of the chess celebrities, Bill Hall (USCF Executive Director), talked about how he played in Denker almost 20 years ago, representing Tennessee. He was from a small town (pop. 3500) and never had much opportunity to travel. He didn't say how he won the state championship, but evidently his little high school had a chess team and he won a state championship and so got to go on to nationals. He said it opened up the world to him, which is why he devotes so much of his life to promoting chess for America's youth.
I think of how much better Trevor's world is and will be because of chess, and am thankful that the Lord opened up this path for him. So many things fell into just the right place for Trevor: we moved to Chicagoland, I happened to pick up Chicago Parent magazine at a health club resulting in our sending Trevor to a chess camp on the other side of the city, etc. And now he studies with Yury Schulman, who is the highest rated U.S. player who accepts students. Yury is rated fourth in the USA right now. The top three players don't have teaching studios.
God is good.
GO TREVOR! GO ILLINOIS! :)
*P.S. from Cheryl: HE WON!