Sunday, May 18, 2008

Nice Pictures From the New York Times

Thanks to Josh Haner, Photo Editor. More are at (no commercial use). Article is at

I should mention that I think (I'm not 100%, but I think) I'm embarrassed about what I'm quoted as saying. It's an obnoxious thing to say on a couple levels, and while the funiness and possible kernal of truthiness (It's a frequent complaint of private school coaches, for example, that for their students, chess is just the scheduled activity for Tuesdays, sometimes interchangable with violin. ) as I was saying, the moderate funniness and possible relevance/correctness of the thought do not excuse its flippancy. My bad.


Tom Panelas said...


I don't think you should be embarrassed about what you said to the Times. I know what you meant, it made perfect sense, and in this day and age when anything can be willfully miscontrued in the worst possible way, to innoculate yourself against that beforehand by mentioning the possibility was shrewd.

Congratulations on the write-up. I'm also glad that McClain mentioned the dustup over the kids from Lincolnshire out here in the Chicago area. With any luck they'll be able to compete as a team next year. They should.

Polly said...

I didn't see anything flip in your remarks. Having taught in a number of wealthy public school districts in the suburbs I see many kids who are over scheduled with sports, music, chess, dance etc.

Many of the kids will have 5 different after school activities scheduled suring the course of a week. How can a kid really excel at anyone particular one? Some schools the emphasis seems to be on sports culture, and chess gets brushed to the side.

I remember I had a very talented group of second graders from a wealthy school district. We placed 4th at the grade nationals with a 3 man team. (Top 3 scores, but always nice to have extra kids to pick up the slack.) The general reaction was ho hum. That's nice, but it's not soccer.

I think it's great that chess gives many kids from schools like yours the opportunity to travel and compete around the country. They get exposure and travel opportunities that other kids might not get unless their travel soccer team gets into some national championship. Thts' usually harder to do. I like that the chess nationals is open to any school that wants to send a team. No divisions by school size. The big schools compete against the little schools, and sometimes the little schools surprise everyone.

Anonymous said...

I also think you hit the nail right on the head with your comment. My 9-year son plays tournament chess and is getting lessons, but he also is taking Karate, Chinese, soccer, and baseball, plus his school homework. There are only so many free hours in a week, and all the other activities, of course, limit the amount of time he can put into chess, even though he wants to.

I don't see anything flippant in the remark, though it certainly is regrettable that all children don't have the same opportunities.


Anonymous said...

This is a classic example of how a single quote which came from a much longer and much more nuanced conversation can cast a different tone than what the speaker meant. It is obvious that you are not belittling these kids nor are you being flippant or disparaging. You are stating an obvious point that children with fewer activities competing for their time will have more time and energy for chess.

Jean-Michel Laprise said...

I like that the reporter left in the preamble that you were not sure this would come out the way you wanted. Many would just have written the actual statement. This way it at least lets people know that if they are taking it the wrong way it is not what you intended.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Thanks for the support, but I do think it's somewhat condescending. A parent might reasonably view it that way, at least.

The reporter did a nice job and I agree with Jean-Michel that he was scrupulously fair.