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Old March 20th 07, 11:11 AM posted to rec.games.chess.politics,rec.games.chess.misc,alt.chess
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Default At kids' chess tourney, chaos calls checkmate, from Chicago Tribune

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chicagotribune.com Nation/World
At kids' chess tourney, chaos calls checkmate
In protest, players bolt Chicago school event

By Stephanie Banchero
Tribune staff reporter
Published March 17, 2007

In chess terminology, the drama swirling around the Chicago Public
Schools chess programs could be called a pawn storm.

A group of coaches and elementary pupils, let's call them the pawns,
joined together last week to make a concerted attack on the king, or
the man who runs the district chess program. As in the pawn attack,
the young chess enthusiasts and their coaches hope that, by banding
together, they can take control of the board.

In layman's terms, we'd call it a players' strike.

Last weekend, about 100 Chicago elementary-school pupils and their
coaches stormed out of the citywide chess championship, complaining
that the event was chaotic and out of control. The tournament was
short of chessboards and officials and did not have a coordinator to
pair competitors, according to those who attended.

Now, the pawns plan to raise money to stage a renegade citywide
tournament April 21.

"We've complained for a long time about how poorly run the tournaments
are, but no one seems to care," said John Lee, who coaches the Burbank
Elementary School chess team and led the revolt. "So we've decided
that if you want to do something right, you do it yourself."

Gabriel Guillen, a 6th grader who plays on the award-winning Burbank
team, said he doesn't care who organizes the tournament, but he felt
rooked out of the chance to compete against the city's best chess
players.

"I just want to win another trophy," said the 11-year old, who already
has 10 trophies in his bedroom. "I think I could have won, and I
practiced a lot this year."

Tom Larson, the man who runs the district chess program and is being
blamed for the chaotic March 10 tournament, could not be reached for
comment. But his boss, Calvin Davis, apologized to the children
involved.

Davis defended Larson but said the district bears some responsibility.
He is considering staging another citywide chess championship to make
up for the previous one.

"The important thing here is that no matter whose fault it is, the
kids should not suffer," Davis said. "I want every single child to
have a good experience. I am committed to taking whatever steps are
necessary to make sure this never happens again."

The Chicago chess feud has caused much consternation among parents,
coaches and district officials. Each side has sent a flurry of e-mails
to the other and filled a local chess blog with complaints, some of
them nasty.

Much of the anger is aimed at Larson.

Larson won national fame when he coached his Orr High School chess
team to a tie in the 1996 U.S. Chess Federation finals. A year later,
he was hired to head the district's new chess program.

From the start, the program has held an odd spot in the Chicago Public

Schools system. Unlike debate or the Academic Olympics, which fall
under the auspices of elementary After School Programs, chess is run
through the Department of Sports Administration. The same group that
oversees high school basketball, football and track runs the
elementary-school chess event.

Coaches privately call it the stepchild of the sports department.



Tourney called chaotic

Some coaches and players say the citywide chess championship, which
typically draws about 150 to 200 competitors, has never been
particularly well organized. But the recent event, they complain, was
chaotic.

Pupils and coaches said trouble began as soon as they arrived. About
200 pupils showed up to play, far more than Larson was prepared for,
they said. There were not enough chess sets for competitors, and
pupils were told to officiate their own games, according to several
pupils and coaches.

Most problematic, they said, no one made official pairings. So players
did not know whom they were competing against or where to sit.

"It was a train wreck from the moment we walked in the door," said
Mike Bologna, who coaches the Edgebrook Elementary School team and
stayed for the entire event. "It wasn't fair to the kids who put in a
lot of practice and were excited to compete."

Raul Dela Cruz, a 4th grader on the Burbank team, said he sat at a
table for 15 minutes waiting for an opponent. When no one showed up,
Raul played against his school teammate, who was also waiting for a
competitor.

"We just wanted to play, so we decided to play against each other,"
the 10-year-old said matter-of-factly. "It was better than sitting
there waiting for someone to tell us what to do."

Raul ended up leaving the event without competing.

Davis, director of sports programs for the district, said the problems
occurred because many teams showed up without first registering. Davis
said the district invited about 40 teams and planned for about 200 to
250 competitors. He said Larson told him about 400 showed up.

Five coaches who attended the tournament said those numbers are
grossly inflated. They also contended that every year, the same teams
attend the tournament, so the district should have been ready.

Coaches also complained that, depending on the year, Larson has
sometimes required them to submit rosters early. Valentina Halliday,
who helps coach the Gale Elementary School chess team, said she e-
mailed Larson a few days before the tournament, and he told her to
just bring her roster with her.



`Just making excuses'

"They are just making excuses now," she said of the district's
defense. "They are in a big hole, and they are trying to deflect bad
publicity."

Davis acknowledged that the tournament had problems.

"Were there communication problems? Yes. Organization issues? Yes," he
said. "But I think a lot of people showed up who did not register, so
that made things worse."

Sixth grader Gianfranco Ocampo, 11, was sad to see his Burbank team
pull out.

"I know why we left," he said. "But I was sad. I thought this might be
my time to win a trophy."

----------



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Old March 20th 07, 11:14 AM posted to rec.games.chess.politics,rec.games.chess.misc,alt.chess
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Default Sam Sloan caused chaos in Chicago

Sam Sloan caused chaos in Chicago Tournament. He was trying to show
some kids his peepee. What a sick old man.

  #3   Report Post  
Old March 20th 07, 11:32 AM posted to rec.games.chess.politics,rec.games.chess.misc,alt.chess
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First recorded activity by ChessBanter: May 2006
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Default At kids' chess tourney, chaos calls checkmate, from Chicago Tribune

The blog posts a http://blog.chess4chicago.com/2007/0...rson_cps_.html

And http://blog.chess4chicago.com/2007/0...o_public_.html

  #4   Report Post  
Old March 20th 07, 12:18 PM posted to rec.games.chess.politics,rec.games.chess.misc,alt.chess
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Default Sam Sloan the felon

Sam Sloan caused chaos in Chicago Tournament. He was trying to show
some kids his peepee. What a sick old man.



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