Sunday, April 7, 2013

SuperNationals - Day 3

Hello All -

Mr. Burke here with a wrap-up of SuperNationals V from Nashville.  Oh, the highs and lows of top level tournament chess.  JM started the day with high hopes - he had 4.5 points out of 5 and had a chance to win his section with 2 games to play.  Unfortunately those plans didn't materialize.  In Round 6 (9:00 AM game) JM played on the big stage again against a player from Illinois rated 1974.  The game was another long one, and ended in a draw.  JM was very disappointed in that result, as it ended any chance he had to win the tournament.  He was at 5 points after 6 rounds, and the two leaders were at 5.5 and 6 points and were paired against each other for Round 7.  No matter what happened in the Round 7 game between the leaders, one of the players was going to get to 6.5 points and the most JM could achieve would be 6 points with a win.  Round 6 took a lot of steam out of JM, but he still had a chance to finish anywhere from 2nd to 4th with a win in round 7, the final round of the tournament.

Round 7 (2:00 PM game) was another 4 hour game against a player rated 1928 from Maryland.  Unfortunately JM ended up with his first loss of the tournament in this game, which resulted in a final score of 5 points out of 7 (4 wins, 2 losses, 1 draw).  JM officially finished in 16th place out of 203, after the final standings and tiebreakers were calculated. 

All in all, it was a great experience for JM.  National championship events are extremely pressure filled - he was under intense stress all weekend and handled it very well.  7 games lasting on average 3-4 hours each in a 3 day time period is rough.

Here is what I will remember about this weekend:

1) I am continually blown away by the effort and focus that JM (and all these kids) exhibits in each tournament.  He competes with every fiber of his being and leaves it all out there.  He never mails in a game, never gives anything less than his absolute best, never backs down from a challenge, never is intimidated by anything he faces.  His effort inspires me to be a better person.

2) JM has the fiercest competitive streak of anyone I know.  Anything less than total victory is just not acceptable to JM.  How many kids would lose only 1 game out of 7, finish 16th out of 203 in the biggest chess tournament of the year against top players from around the nation, and be totally disgusted and not even care about getting his trophy?  JM expects to win every single game he plays and expects to be the best, and that intense drive is something that makes him great and is something that I love to see.  There is disappointment right now after a tough tournament loss, but JM will be back on the big stage again.  He will learn from this experience and will become a better player because of it.  You can take it to the bank - JM will be mixing it up with the best in the country again soon, and he will make it to the top and win a national championship before long.  It is in him to do so.  It is what he will do.

And yes, he did get his trophy (and it is a pretty big one too!).  Will try to get pictures up tomorrow after we get home.

Thanks for following along on our latest chess adventure!

SuperNationals - Day 2

Hello all -

Mr. Burke here with a recap of today's action.  What a long, intense day it was.  In Round 3 (9:00 AM game) JM played against a player rated 1776 from Alabama.  On paper, JM appeared to be the favorite, but the game turned into a long drawn out battle that lasted a little over 4 hours.  JM ended up with the win, but he definitely had to work for it.

We only had about 45 minutes to grab a quick lunch before the 2:00 PM Round 4 game.  JM was paired with Rishi Rajendran, a fellow NJ player that JM played a few years back in the NJ state championship (I believe it was the 3rd grade championship in 2010, but I could be off by a year).  The only time JM and Rishi played they drew and ended up as NJ co-champions.  The Round 4 game today was on the large elevated stage in front of the tournament room, in full view of the 2000 other players and hundreds of other spectators in the room.  Talk about a pressure cooker environment!  True to form, the game was a JM special that went 4.5 hours - when the game finished JM only had 30 seconds on his clock.  The game was intense, and ended with both players blitzing out their moves and pounding the clock.  JM ended up victorious, winning his 4th straight game.

35 minutes later, after another quick meal, JM was back on the big stage to take on another player with a 4-0 record, a player rated 2033 from West Virginia.  This was the toughest player according to rating JM had faced so far, in the dreaded Saturday night 7:00 PM game.  Thankfully, the game only lasted 2 hours and ended with both players agreeing to a draw.

All in all, a great day with 2 wins and a draw.  JM currently has 4.5 points out of 5.  Going into Round 5 there were 6 players with 4.0 scores, and they were all playing each other in Round 5.  At 4.5 points JM definitely is in contention to win it all.  2 wins tomorrow would get him to 6.5 points and a strong possibility of at least a share of first place.  Round 6 is at 9:00 AM.  This tournament has a very fast pace with 7 games in 3 days.  JM hasn't had any time to even show me his games - it has been a race to eat and go to bed in between all the chess.

Great performance today by JM - he has put himself into a position to win it all, which is what you want going into the last 2 rounds.  Looking forward to an exciting day tomorrow - I will post an update tomorrow night after the tournament is over.  For those interested, you can see the standings for the  K-6 Championship Section here:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Standings update after round 2

Mr. Burke here again with a standings update as I lie awake in bed at 5:11 AM in the morning (I am not sure who has a worse case of the nerves - me or John Michael!).

The #4 and #7 seeds in JM's section both lost in round 2 to players rated 500 points lower.  Definitely a reminder that upsets are quite common in national tournaments like this.  These kids are not machines, and this venue can be quite intimidating, especially if it is their first experience at a national tournament.  JM was a little nervous before round 1 but handled it well.  He definitely started to get his mojo going after he got that first game out of the way.  Every game is going to be a challenge, no matter what the rating of the opponent.  Round 3 is against a 1773 rated player from Alabama.  Will be posting updates throughout the day if possible.

Friday, April 5, 2013

SuperNationals - Day 1

Hello all -

Mr. Burke here.  Day 1 of SuperNationals V in Nashville is in the books.  John Michael won both of his games today, so he is off to a good start.  There are 203 players in the K-6 Championship section, which typically leads to higher rated players playing down against lower rated players in the first few rounds of a tournament.  John Michael is the 5th seed in his section - his opponents today were both rated about 500 points lower than him, so he was definitely heavily favored to win both games (he was the equivalent of a 14-17 point favorite in a football game) and he took care of business.  5 games left - 3 tomorrow and 2 on Sunday.  Tomorrow will be a long day - games at 9:00 AM, 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM.  Games should get more challenging as the tournament progresses.

The Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center is huge - you need a map to get around.  The playing hall where John Michael is playing is big as well - holds around 2000 players.  It is jam packed - 5200+ players in this tournament.  Hope to get some pictures up tomorrow, time permitting.  This tournament has a much different feel than the World Youth.  Instead of 1 game per day for 7 days, there are 7 games packed into 3 days in this tournament.  Sleeping and eating are at a premium.  By the end of the day, we all pretty much pass out, so the updates won't be as lengthy this time around...

Will be back tomorrow night with another update.