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Claudia on Learning and Giving in Iowa Print E-mail
By Claudia Munoz   
September 4, 2015
Iowa Open 3.jpgWhen I turn off the lights in my room to embark on a chess trip, I always wonder what new experiences I will bring back home. My summer chess tour ended at the 61st Iowa Chess Championship after starting my journey in June in El Paso, Dallas and San Antonio, Texas followed by an international tournament in Canada in July and finalizing my journey in the corn fields of Iowa. So why would a Texas girl like me visit the 61st Iowa Chess Championship? Eric Vigil, president of the Iowa Chess Association, was kind enough to invite me. However what sweetened the invitation was an opportunity to give a chess lecture at Coralville Central Elementary. Sharing experiences and insights with children is very important for me, as a matter of fact, everywhere I travel I am making it a priority to visit school chess clubs, but more about this in my account below.


‘Build it and they will come' is a line straight out of FIELD OF DREAMS (a 1989 baseball movie) starring Kevin Costner. The 61st Iowa Chess Championship, an event with four different categories, was held August 28-30 in Coralville. This event attracted 228 chess players from 11 states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Iowa and of course yours truly from Texas. In FIELD OF DREAMS a farmer hears a voice telling him to build a baseball field on his cornfield. When Eric picked my mom and I at the airport the first thing we did was take pictures with him on a cornfield, so yes, they really are proud of their corn and chess.


After supper at Eric's house with his beautiful family and friends, we were shuttled to the tournament site in order to play in the Iowa Quick Chess Championship. When I arrived at the site, I made it a point to greet and handshake every single person. A total of 40-players were ready to compete. I won my first 3 games. In the 4th round I faced IM Vishnuvardhan Arjun and I was fortunate to get a draw so you must imagine how I felt. In the 5th round I encountered the eventual champion of the event, IM Angelo Young, it became my first defeat followed by a final round win. A 4.5 of 6 result was quite respectable as I came in 5th place. You can see the final standing of that event here.

One of the reasons I wanted to play in this event was because the open section was FIDE rated and after a terrible showing in the North American Junior in Canada, I needed healing in that area. Things do not usually go as planned because in the first round I drew with Ilya Blokhin who was rated 230 points lower than me. I am a firm believer that ratings do not play, players do - I got a rude awakening after that first round draw. After winning my next two games, I was on board 5 in the 4th round in a field of 90 players facing NM Gopal Menon (2344). I can honestly say that I gave it my all but came short as I registered my first defeat of the tournament. I finished the last round with a win and a respectable 3.5 of 5 and a 12th place finish after starting in the 17th position. I congratulate IM Michael Brooks, IM Angelo Young, Menon and NM Petros Demetrios Karagianis for finishing at the top of the table with 4.5 each. GM Alex Yermolinsky and WGM Camilla Baginskaite came in the 7th and 8th positions respectively.




61st Open http://www.uschess.org/msa/XtblMain.php?201508308472.1

61st Open Reserve http://www.uschess.org/msa/XtblMain.php?201508297842

61st Open RBO http://www.uschess.org/msa/XtblMain.php?201508297852.1

My Chess Lecture at Coralville Central Elementary 1.jpg

The school chess club is three years old and has close to 70 members from Kindergarten to 6th Grade. Some children already have made their mark in the Iowa Scholastic Chess Championship. I could see passion and drive in their school chess coach and coordinator Jess Fiedorowic who shared his team approach with me:

1. Have Fun
2. Losing is a learning opportunity
3. Learn Chess
When I arrived at the school I was welcomed by the principal, library staff and members of the chess club. I signed chess boards and had my picture taken with the children. I then began my chess lecture. I went over a recent chess game that I played against WIM Annie Wang at the 2015 North American Junior Championship in Canada a month ago.


In that game I was in a winning position through the middle game only to make a blunder in the endgame costing me a win. I explained the importance of overcoming defeat and not using a loss to define themselves as players. We also had a question and answer session. I can honestly say that the future of Iowa Chess is in great hands!


I thank Eric Vigil and his family for inviting me to Iowa and for opening the doors of their home to us. I appreciate Coralville Central Elementary, Jess Fiedorowic, the staff and members of their chess club for their warm welcome. Last but not least the tournament directors and staff of the 61st Iowa Chess Championship: Mark Capron Head TD OPEN and RESERVE (National Arbiter, Senior TD), Bill Broich Head Floor TD OPEN and RESERVE (International Arbiter, Associate National TD), Eric Vigil Head TD RBO (Senior TD), Bill Feldman RBO Section Chief (Local TD) and Christian Schmitz who helped on the floor for the RBO.

Look for more reports from Labor Day events this coming weekend, including the New Jersey Open (with nine GMs pre-registered) & the Southern California Open, which Digital Assistant Vanessa West will cover.