A lot of people are really really nice to me at these tournaments, but a significant number of people seem really angry at me for reasons I mostly don't get at all. Three examples:
1. I Am Accused of Playing the System By Using Unfair Advantages
I haven't been to the elementarys in maybe 4 or 5 years, but ok I go this time and my first impression of the blitz tournament Thursday night is that it's a total zoo. Hundreds of tiny children run at breakneck speeds everywhere. Well-dressed chess moms all sit on carpeted floors. Everyone is talking very intensely to someone. I wander around, dazed and gaping, finally I start chatting with a New York parent I know slightly (I recognize the face but don't know the name, kid, or school). Everything seems just fine.
Then the parent coordfinator of PS 166 in New York comes up to me, visibly agitated.
"I have to let you know something," he begins, hands shaking. "The parents from my school are going to complain. We think it's very unfair that 318 is a junior high school and you are playing in an elementary tournament."
So I say, "But the section is K-6, and we are just playing sixth graders." I wasn't trying to be condescending, honestly, I just didn't understand what he was objecting to.
"But it's not fair, because they are junior high school kids. I just think it's really unfair."
So I tell him he should go to the TDs, that it was no problem for me and if his parents felt anxious it was better to clarify the rules. But he wouldn't stop trying to argue with me about it, implying I was consciously trying to trick everyone and that a 6-8 school in a K-6 program had an obvious large advantage. After a while I said something sharp to him and walked away, but I think this might be the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Here's why:
I get to teach my students for 8.5 months; most K-6 coaches get to teach their students for SEVEN YEARS.
Now let's take a look at the rating progress of my K-6 team since they entered the school until the May supplement:
So here you go, Mr. Parent: maybe we are not cheating your system; maybe we are just working harder?!
2. A Private School Coordinator Objects to My Predictions.
You know that guy in track suit pants who you always see hanging around but you never know who he is? He's my boss/ assistant principal/ assistant coach, John Galvin. I'm a big fan of Galvin--- he's a great boss, a very decent chess player (1650), and a good friend of mine.
So this coordinator woman goes up to him Sunday afternoon and complains about my CLO article predicting the Elementary Nationals results. She said all the parents at her school were outraged and she tries to argue that I should be fired for it. Of course she doesn't say a word to me about it all weekend, she just goes directly to my boss. Galvin keeps a straight face and suggests that she should leave a comment on the online article, to which she replies that she doesn't have time for such things.
Does she really think Galvin is going to fire me because she recommends it? Because, what, I'm implying there is a competitive element in all of this? You have to understand, this tournament is by far the most overtly competitive space I have ever been in. Parents stand in enormous viewing galleries 2 floors above the playing hall and peer down at their children-- hundreds and hundreds of them do this, pacing back and forth the whole entire game. You can't even see the positions. But they still stare desparately, as if by looking hard enough maybe it will magically come into focus, or maybe they'll be able to mentally transit a message of "make a good move" to their kid. It's really strange.
This is not something I created with predictions in a CLO article.
3. A Random Idiot Threatens Me With a Negative CLO Comment
Our return flight to Newark was cancelled because of bad weather on the East Coast, so we were forced to remain in Pittsburgh Monday night. Normally airlines don't put you up for the night when the delay/ cancellation is weather-related, but a little old lady at the check-in desk took pity and gave us 4 free hotel rooms and some meal vouchers. So it's all great fun; the kids are thrilled about missing anotehr day of school, we hang out in the Hyatt and have a blitz tournament/ watch a movie. Galvin runs into a Bronx team who are also stranded-- he tells them to ask for free rooms. They try but get told no.
So that evening I'm meeting the kids in the hotel lobby when Random Idiot asks if I have a minute. I don't really, but he's already started waving his hands at me, shouting, and demanding that I tell the story of the discrimination against the unfortunate team from the Bronx in the tournament report, and include the fact that ANOTHER TEAM got FREE HOTEL ROOMS. It's like he's implying I used some corrupt influence to get them.
At this point, I'm just trying to get away, so I say, "I don't really... do investigative reporting on ... airline cancellations?"
Then RI says "If you don't include it, I will tell the whole story IN A COMMENT!"
"I'm not doing the report on the tournament."
So then he says, almost triumphantly, "I will speak to Jennifer about this!"
You do that.
Anyway, that's all. I'm not trying to imply most people are unpleasant to me-- most people are super nice. Maddy Bender's mom, for example, is almost unbelievably chatty and friendly.
But, wow, I sure seem to rub some people the wrong way.