Hey, everyone! It’s been a busy week. Started off this week getting my chess team ready for the Saturday Sectional, and I enjoyed a mid-week Bulls game as you can see from the picture above. I’m holding a Dark Matter Coffee…I don’t drink alcohol much.
The game was cool. The Bulls are not great (or good), but the United Center is a cool place to check out a game; it’s almost like a mall…as is the case with most newer stadiums these days. It’s a destination, not just a place to watch sports.
I coached a few speech team kids this week. I taught a whole bunch of new stuff in my classroom. Had two doctors appointments on Wednesday. Ran Game Club on Thursday, where I FINALLY got to try out the new Fireball Island game I got way back on Black Friday, and it was dope:
Kori and I got weathered in on Friday, so we watched the new Fyre Festival documentary on Netflix. It was crazy interesting; check it out! And Saturday, I spent over ten hours at Andrew High School competing at our Sectional Chess Tournament.
That is where I want to spend most of my time today…reflecting on this chess tourney.
The tourney is four rounds, and you have to win two to guarantee a spot at the State tournament. And for those of you that do not know how team chess works, there are eight boards; your best player plays board one and so on down the line. Board one is worth the most points. You need 35 points to win the round.
We did not win a game first round. We played a powerhouse team and got smoked. So round two, we played a team that also lost first round; however, a powerhouse lost first round, and we got the unlucky draw of playing them. We lost again…without winning a single board.
Two of the four games in, and we were 0-2…0-16 on individual boards. We needed to win the last two games to advance.
My other coach and I talked to the kids. Tried to rally them. They had played two of the best teams at the tourney and lost. No harm in losing, especially to good teams, but 0-16 on the boards was troubling. We broke it down for them. We win or our season ends, and for the seniors on the team, their high school chess career would be over.
We stressed the importance of slowing down, reacting to their opponent and not moving without reflective purpose. Third round, we played a team that was 1-1, and we swept them eight boards to none. One win down!
Another pep talk: don’t get too confident.
We started the fourth game with confidence that we could beat the team we were playing and advance to State, however, we quickly lost three boards, and went down a ton of points. And it was looking like our board five was in for a loss, and we would need the rest of the boards, just to tie.
With our board one looking good, and the rest of the kids holding their own, our board five made a tremendous come back and ended up winning his match. Then eight, seven, and one won. The last board (two) was all that was standing between us and State. He didn’t know this, but if he ended his game in a draw, we would have also won.
The other team was counting on their board two to take them to State as well. Both teams were huddled behind their player, watching intently, silently. Our guy was looking good, but I could tell the pressure was getting to him; he showed us his shaking hand (he is all the way to the right in the pic below). He held on. He played well. And he won. We are going to State!
There was a lot this week that added to my story. But out of all of the things I can claim sat in my mind for a while, this board two win is the most impactful. Most game wining shots are lost. But we take them, and we deal with the result. I’ve lost many game winning shots with kids over the years. I’ve won a few too, but loss is definitely something that I am familiar with, so it’s great when you get a win…in whatever you do. We might not have gone 4-0 yesterday, but we came from behind 0-2 and 0-3 in that last match to earn a spot at the State tourney. Our kids made a game winning shot yesterday, and I’m proud of them. That kid on board two is a senior; what a cool way to continue his senior year. He (and we) will never forget that.
Take some shots. At school. In your personal life. With others. You’ll fall short a ton, but those that hit, that’s where story comes alive. Yeah, we learn a ton from our losses, but the wins are what makes us root for the underdog.