Wow, I even get free refreshments!
Miss B’s school runs a chess club that is open to pupils of year 2 (thats six and seven year olds), and this has been something she has been looking forward to joining since she started at the school. Well, Miss B is currently in year 2, so signed up and has been going along each week. Usually she loses, sometimes only narrowly, but she gets the occasional win, and she always enjoys taking part.
A couple of weeks ago, she brought home an invitation to take part in a local chess tournament for primary school aged kids. At her request, I sent off the entry form, and today the day of the event arrived. We turned up nice and early at the venue, her being very excited and me being more nervous than I would admit to her.
I learnt to play chess when I was fairly young, and got to be okay at it, but never joined a chess club or took part in any tournaments or other organised play. It was just a game to play casually but try to get better at. As a result, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from a tournament, but figured she was used to losing so how bad can it be?
The tournament had over 40 kids in attendance, divided into 5 age classes, and the event was run over five rounds as a Swiss format competition. I had heard about Swiss tournaments, but didn’t know what they were, so spent a few minutes reading the page on Wikipedia, and then explaining how it all works to one of the other parents who were hanging around.
Once each game was started, the parents were ejected from the playing rooms, starting a period of tense waiting. Miss B was delighted to win her first match, but went on to lose her other four. She took all this extremely well until the very last match, when she felt that one of the adults in the room was helping her opponent at the very end. I’m sure this wasn’t as bad as she perceived it (and it sounded like she was losing anyway — and even winning this match would not have put her in the prizes) but it did sour the experience for her. Another downer was when she found out that a couple of her class mates (one of whom is actually older than her by a few months) were competing in the lower age group. I have no idea what happened there. Probably some mix up with the paperwork. A big cuddle was needed at the end.
So it was all a pretty intense day, with 5 matches played over a four hour period, and it is not surprising that everyone was a bit frayed at the end. Still, Miss B says she wants to go back next year and see if she can do better. I couldn’t be more proud of her.
Edited to add: I’ve figured out what happened in the age group. The mix up with the paperwork was my fault, so I owe Miss B a huge apology for accidentally entering her into a higher age group. Oops.