I got back from Junior High Nationals in Minneapolis last night. I feel braindead and spaced out today. I was on the first flight, which arrived at Newark at 5:10 and at school at 6. I flipped a coin with Pete Kelly to see who was going to wait with the unpickedup kids. I won (heads) and he waited for an hour and a half outside the school for some tardy grandmother. I would have freaked out.
So the under sections performed pretty badly. Some kids played ok, but they were nothing like the under kids of the past. Last year we had Danny Feng, David Kim, Aleem Awan, in the under 750, and those kids are now all 1600-1900. The kids this year just aren't (for the most part) as serious. I got frustrated looking at the games. I found myself saying things like "How many times is your piece attacked? How many times is it defended?," or "Did you think about capturing the free pawn?" It's hard for me to say any of those sentences more than a couple times to a kid before I start to feel like they aren't paying enough attention and I get annoyed.
We won the K-8 and came third in the K-9. The K-8 was easy: not too many other strong teams (they moved to the K-9) and we had a 4.5 point lead going into the last round. The K-9 was a bit of a heartbreaker. We had a one point lead going into the last round and needed only one win in any of 8 games to tie for first and win on tiebreaks. every single kid lost.
Isaac came into the team room and yelled "I won!!! ... ... sike!" I was so deflated, I didn't even yell at him, the way I normally would. I just said "That's not funny. Never do that again," in a numb monotone.
I haven't seen all the losing games, but the ones I have were pretty lame. And the scale of the chokage is so incredible. I feel disappointed with the results, but I also feel stupid and super-negative for feeling that way. We won nationals and I am disappointed. What's wrong with me?
There were definitely some big bright spots. I didn't see the best players' games (Greg Shahade volunteers his time to help me at nationals, and he works with the top 10-12 kids), but I hear they played well, especially Nigel, Alexis and Justus. Alexis went 6-0 and won clear second in the K-8. Jermaine Cooper had a breakthrough tournament in terms of game quality; every round I was looking forward to him coming back and showing me his game. Anita played very long, careful games, as did Aleem.
Next year I need to do a better job with the beginners.
Next weekend: high school and girls' nationals in Columbus, Ohio.
here are some pictures: (more here)