Junior High Update
By Jennifer Shahade   
April 5, 2008
Fifth grader Darwin Yang is third seed in the K-9 Championships. Photo Betsy Dynako 2007

Midway through the Junior High Nationals, perfect scores abound, with most favorites still on 3-0. Check out update results and pairings throughout the event at http://main.uschess.org/tournaments/2008/jhs/ and watch live games on monroi.com.

The third round is where things begin to get tough on the top boards with rating differentials of about 300-400 points. One notable upset was on board four, with Kassa Korney of Dalton falling to the Texan 7th grader, Jason Jia. Jia showed a good understanding of the Sveshnikov when Korney erred with 23.Rd5, which allowed 23...Ne7! followed by the nearly winning breakthrough 24...d5!

A second blow for Dalton was on board two, in which second seed Parker Zhao lost to David Aldberg. Can Dalton come back from this tough round? Stay tuned.

Top seeds Alec Getz in the K-8 and Michael Lee in K-9 both have perfect scores. Here are some of the games on the top boards.

Snippets of the blitz tournament, which Alec Getz won, were recorded on  this youtube video by Greg Sciame.

Jerry Nash, USCF Scholastic Director, wrote into CLO from the scene.

Dear CLO Readers,

We are finishing up the first day of the 2008 National Junior High Chess Championships here in Dallas. This event starts our series of three Spring National, the Junior High, the High School in Atlanta, and the Elementary in Pittsburgh. In some ways, these events are the culmination of a year of scholastic chess programs for teachers, parents, coaches, and players. The Nationals represent the benchmark for competition. How good are we compared to the rest of the country?

I always look forward to spending time with the teams and their supporters.  Throughout the weekend I try to make it to all the team rooms, the tables in the skittles area, and up and down the hallways.  Hearing their success stories from the past year and what it took just to get to the tournament reminds me why we invest the time and resources: it's the students.  But listening to the challenges of expanding scholastic chess back home also reminds me that our job is not done when the trophies are awarded at the end of the weekend.

My daughter, a senior in high school, competes in speech and forensics.  So some weekends I am a speech dad who nervously paces the halls waiting for her to emerge each round.  I want her to win.  But more than that, I want her to experience the life lesson of doing your best no matter the outcome. She will carry those lessons with her long after we have misplaced her trophies and plaques.

I try to remember those feelings as I make my tour of the tournament site each day and encourage those waiting.  Of course parents, teachers, and coaches have more than just winning the tournament in mind. True, the intensity of the competition is palpable as they and the players anxiously scan the pairings! After all, this is a tournament. And chess is by nature competitive, pitting mind against mind.
But when a child walks out of the playing hall in tears (or with a beaming smile) a teachable moment often occurs. At that moment it is the privilege of parents, teachers, and coaches to help shape that student's future by reminding them that caring is not determined by wins and losses. And no trophy in the world can replace that kind of support.

I look forward to seeing you in Atlanta and Pittsburgh!