News & Post-Tournament Notes from 2005-06
by OHSCTA 2005-06 Executive Secretary Mike Wolfe
I’m writing this on Saturday, and just two weeks from today our tournament
will wrap up, with honors for several teams and many individuals. Here
are a few things to know that I hope will help you feel more prepared.
1–Bring your own equipment. The OHSCTA does not own any boards, sets, or
clocks as an organization, and we will not be providing any. If you don’t
have enough, we hope you will be able to blend what you have with what
your opponents have into a usable array of equipment to outfit a match. I
have invited someone to set up a sales concession at the tournament but I
have not yet heard back from him, so at this time, we cannot count on the
possibility that there will be items available for sale at the tournament.
2–The player with black gets to select the equipment for use in the game
and to position the clock on the right or the left. If the player with
white has a problem with black’s selection, however, the white player can
ask for a ruling. Sets must meet certain standards, and if the board is
too small, or the pieces are not the traditional Staunton design, or even
if they are in unusual colors, for example, a request for a ruling is
definitely in order.
3–This is very key, and we have problems with it almost every year. You
must fill your team from the best board down. Here’s what that
means–Let’s just give your five best players the names King, Queen, Rook,
Bishop, and Pawn. If any player starts the tournament at Board 2, for
example, in this case, Queen, then that player MUST play board 2 in every
round. If that player needs to leave because Aunt Sarah is getting
married on Saturday, you cannot substitute your 6th best player, Amy
Alternate, in that 2 spot. Rook must move from 3 to 2, Bishop must move
from 4 to 3, and Pawn must move from 5 to 4, placing Alternate at 5. This
eliminates Rook, Bishop, and Pawn from being eligible for board prizes at
the end of the tournament, because they played a different board on
Saturday than they did on Friday. The easiest policy is, if a player
cannot play the whole tournament, s/he should not come. The exception
could be at the very lowest boards, where substitutions will not have a
negative impact on the rest of the team.
Here’s another way it plays out–Round 1 is ready to begin, but your 3rd
board player has not shown up. You might think, “no problem, we know
she’s coming, we will just have her opponent start her clock and she will
have to catch up when she arrives.” However, that is not the ruling.
Again, because of the rule that says you have to fill the vacant boards by
moving up, you have two options regarding this late player. One is to
move up to fill the vacant board(s,) leaving board 5 vacant or using a B
division player to fill it, or the other is to leave all 3 clocks running
at boards 3, 4, and 5, until your team is properly seated at all boards.
If you were planning on substituting, or if you have another question
related to filling boards, please let me know. It’s much easier to think
right now than it will be when the tournament is going and the rulings
must be made almost instantaneously.
4–Despite my efforts to have things all settled when everyone arrives,
there will inevitably be something that comes up that I have overlooked,
or a situation develop which I had not anticipated. I will need to ask
for everyone’s cooperation.
5–Please remember, NO ELECTRONIC DEVICES are allowed in the tournament
hall. Just the other day, a student of mine told me that he was in
Biology class when he watched a fellow student use a cell phone to take a
picture of a classmate’s test. He then could have sent the test to other
students who had Biology later that day. The young people can be very
resourceful. We must be vigilant regarding this situation. With state
championships and honors on the line, the temptation might be too much for
some of our players to bear. This same tactic could be used to photograph
a position, leave the tournament hall, feed it into a handheld, get an
answer, and text message it back to the player. Players could read an
opening line and several variations into their MP3 players. The
possibities are limitless, so we have to make and enforce this ruling. NO
ELECTRONIC DEVICES, and NO EARPHONES. To avoid embarrassment, if you have
a hearing-impaired player who uses a hearing aid, you might discretely
mention that to the TD and to me so that we don’t find ourselves in an
awkward position. Players whose opponents appear to be using electronic
devices can stop the clocks, raise their hands, and get rulings.
Because of this situation, we are going to need everyone to stay vigilant.
6–For at least the fourth, and maybe the fifth time, I must remind you
that when you register, you MUST have a letter on school letterhead, with
the principal’s or athletic/activity director’s signature, stating that
your players ATTEND your school, or if they do not, that they are eligible
because they are either: home schooled in your school’s attendance area,
or, students in an alternative program in your district. (Or in the case
of certain smaller schools, teams can be blended. If this is the case,
the letter must say which players go to which schools.) Remember, NO
LETTER, NO PLAY.
7–Seeding in the tournament is based on last year’s finish, or, if we
have reason to believe that by following that a team would be seeded
wrong, we have the authority to adjust the seeding. If your team did not
play in last year’s tournament, but you believe it deserves a seeding
better than “somewhere near the bottom,” you should let me know ASAP. We
are already aware of the USCF ratings of the South Eugene team, and after
discussion between Steve Hawke, the director of the Portland League, and
myself, we have placed South Eugene in the #1 seed. We are also aware
that Sunset is new to the tournament this year, but that as 8th graders
the team was excellent, and we have placed them in the #5 seed. Again, if
you have information you would like to have us consider as we seed the
tournament, you need to let me know as soon as you can.
There may be more. Keep your eyes open for new information as we count
down to the tournament.
We look forward to seeing you all at Cottage Grove High School on February
24th and 25th. Please send me any questions or concerns you may have.
Thanks and best wishes,
As you know, my first year as Executive Secretary of the OHSCTA has clearly
demonstrated my desire and willingness to work to spread chess throughout
the high schools of the state.A couple of months ago, I opened the idea of a distinct state tournament
for girls’ teams only in 2007. I have talked with several of the local
coaches about this, and found everything from “Do it!” to “Don’t do it!”
The best idea I heard was that if we do it, it should not happen at the
same time as the OHSCTA state tournament, because that would unfairly
require some girls to have to choose between playing in one division or the
other. Thanks to that thought, the new concept now is a one-day tournament
that would be held on a Saturday in a different weekend than the full-size
The result of that tournament would be to crown an official OHSCTA Girls’
State Champion Team. The regular OHSCTA rules would apply. As long as
there were 8 or fewer teams, we would probably have trophies for the top 3.
Here is my reasoning–despite our best efforts, and despite over 40 years
of being very hospitable and inviting, our organization has not succeeded
in breaking through the “gender gap” in chess. We all know that girls can
play chess; some of the best players in our two active leagues are
female. However, for some reason, chess does not seem to attract anywhere
near the number of girls that could play and play well if they just gave it
a chance. To that end, I’m asking your permission to experiment. I would
like to offer this chance to girls to compete for an OHSCTA-sanctioned
state championship. Since the OHSCTA tournament is supposed to be held
somewhere in the 5 northern counties next year, I would be willing to host
the girls’ event at Cottage Grove, to provide balance, and then, if it is
successful, and we want to continue to do it, we can alternate it with the
Now, no one HAS to enter this tournament, and no one has to spend money on
it if they don’t want to. It is strictly an experiment to see if by
opening up this type of competition, we are able to get more girls playing
chess. If it fails, I will admit it but I won’t give up trying to get more
girls into the game. What I do NOT want people to think is that I’m trying
to be patronizing or condescending, or that I think girls cannot compete on
a level playing field with boys. I DO think girls can compete; but over 40
years’ experience with OHSCTA says that if we keep doing what we have
always done, we will keep getting what we have always got, so it’s time to
try something different.
According to our by-laws, this idea does not require a vote of the
membership. However, I very much care what you all think, so I am asking
for your consent to continue with this experiment.
1–Is it OK with you if we proceed with an experimental Girls’ State
Tournament to be held sometime in 2007?
2–If we do indeed hold the tournament, what would be your level of interest?
A–Very much interested; if the date is convenient, I would attempt to form
a team and compete
B–Somewhat interested; I would need more details before I could get behind
C–Somewhat disinterested; unless a bunch of girls came to me and begged, I
probably would not be involved
D–Very much disinterested; I’m not at all into this idea
In 1963, OHSCTA was formed by four schools, and in 1964 the first state
tournament was held, and it was attended by those same four schools. In
other words, you have to start somewhere, even if it’s small. I would like
to have your permission to proceed with this project for 2007, even if it
starts small, and to see where it goes from there.
Please let me know if it’s OK with you for me to proceed with this, any
reasoning or ideas you might want to share, and whether, if it happens, you
think you might be interested in taking part.
Each year at this time, various leaders around our nation, from the president of the United States to the heads of corporations, to the chairers of organizations, issue reports as to the state of things. These addresses usually contain some indications of a positive nature, and, if necessary, frankly spell out some of the major challenges faced by the organization.
In that spirit, I would like to offer my “State of the Association” address for the Oregon High School Chess Team Association as of January, 2006:
The State of the Association is–Very Good!
In the past year, the OHSCTA, an organization staffed entirely by volunteers, has had the following major accomplishments:
1–We have established a website that is directly responsible for significant growth in interest and awareness of who we are and what we are attempting to accomplish.
2–We have re-written and adopted our organization’s by-laws, modernizing and streamlining where necessary to make our rules accessible to all.
3–We have, for the 42nd consecutive season, held a successful state tournament, this one involving around 200 players.
4–We have begun a cyber league for teams whose locations or situations make travel impractical or difficult.
5–By adopting a strategy involving repeated contacts and invitations, emphasizing the opportunity for competition in a friendly environment in which sportsmanship is highly valued, we have added 20 new schools to the 24 that were on the list one year ago today.
By working together with a common set of goals, we have achieved much. The organization is, at this time, stronger than it has been in recent memory.
With size, however, come challenges. Our organization is a “loose association,” of many different types of people. Some are teachers or school personnel, whose world-view is influenced by concerns related to budget issues, diversity, time commitments, and so on. Others are different and various types of volunteers, from caring parents, to accomplished chess players who want to pass their love of the game on to the next generation, to business people and entrepreneurs who have a financial interest as well as a passion for the game. We have different motives for doing what we do, and we have different goals for ourselves and for our players as we participate in our Association’s events.
For example, this year, we dealt with questions about rating play and about affiliation with state and national chess organizations. At this time, with so many coaches and advisors new to the Association, and struggling just to figure out how to build and sustain their programs, it seemed only predictable that a significant majority of us would choose to postpone these “big picture” kinds of efforts. However, I believe that there are indeed significant benefits that can accrue as a result of USCF affiliation, and that once our growth as an organization reaches a plateau, as it eventually must, and as the Association’s members begin to grow in experience and in confidence in their abilities to organize and run successful chess programs, I believe it will be appropriate to revisit these “quality of play” issues.
As to the future, our Association is limited only by the energy and imagination we wish to apply. I think we can continue to expand, but at the same time, we need to provide the services that our current members want.
The OHSCTA is a vibrant, strong, and growing organization, but it is also fragile. In most school’s cases, only one adult makes it possible for there to be a chess organization at all in any school. We have seen what happened this year when advisors resigned at Thurston, Tigard, Philomath, and Sisters High Schools, to name a few. With the departure of one individual from each location, those schools no longer have chess programs. If we impair, inhibit, or intimidate our members with burdensome rules, excessive paperwork, poor service, or insensitive reactions to their questions or circumstances, we will lose them, and their programs will be lost as well. OHSCTA needs to keep things simple, while still meeting the needs of the organization and its members for fair play within the rules and the spirit of friendly competition and good sportsmanship.All told, I am very proud of OHSCTA’s members for the great strides that we have made in 2005, and I look forward to continuing successful operation this year and beyond. I thank each and every one of you for the outstanding efforts and sacrifices you are making on behalf of the young people with whom you work.
Together we are building an organization that will do a great job of serving the needs of its members and its players well into the future.
With best wishes to all,
We can now say it, with the addition of Cleveland High School, we have now achieved the goal of adding 15 new schools since March 1st.
and encouraging new members. Now, let’s continue to keep the welcome mat
out, but concentrate on strengthening our organization.
It is too late to join the Portland League; they are up and running with an even number of teams. It is NOT too late to join the Midwestern League though; we have not started. Even when we do start, we have an odd number of teams, so our schedule has BYEs throughout. If a school wants to join our Eugene-area league, we will just fill them in where there are BYES.
Cleveland and others that cannot participate in face-to-face leagues are
still encouraged to take part in the “cyber-league” that is played over the
internet. Contact Kate Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are
interested in competing from the comfort of your own computer lab, library,
or classroom, and remember, independent teams, that is, teams that do not
play a league schedule, are still welcome to compete in our annual tournament.
Thank you again for your quick response and for your support of kids, chess, and OHSCTA.
We still need at least two more schools to come forward with chess teams in
order to form the Valley League. I would be happy to assist you, answer any questions, and so on.
Here are some hints about finding advisors:
1–Of course, a general announcement to school staff is very helpful. Most
chess advisors are volunteers.
2–If that doesn’t work, have a chess club meeting of students and let them
know that if they can find an advisor, be it a staff member, a parent, or
another volunteer acceptable to the school’s administration, they can
compete in the Valley League.
3–Another way to find an advisor could be to contact the local adult chess
club. Sometimes there are people there who would like to work with high
schoolers, but who don’t know that there’s an opportunity. Depending on
whether you’re closer to Corvallis, Albany, or Salem, there is a local
chess club near you.
Albany and Corvallis folks can check this
site: http://www.nwchess.com/clubs/corvallis.html, and Salem area people
can check http://www.nwchess.com/clubs/salem.html.
4–Yet another way would be to check the nearby colleges and universities
for assistance. Here in the Eugene area, the University of Oregon chess
program is extremely open to working with young people. I do not know the
attitude of the chess programs at Linn-Benton, OSU, or Willamette
University, but I’ll bet that there are people there who would be happy to
help out with your students.
Anyway, before you determine not to have a program, I hope you will check
with these various resources.
It is almost always possible to build a chess program if there is a will to
do it on the part of the administration.
Our Eugene-area league just added its 8th team today. We welcome the
Churchill Lancers! Now, how about it, Valley Leaguers? I will be happy to
help you get started if you wish. I can conduct the first coaches’ meeting
and will be happy to provide a sample constitution and help write your
schedule, all for free. Just let me know what you need and I will be happy
to provide it.
I remain at your service.
Thanks for your consideration,
Executive Secretary, Oregon High School Chess Team Association
The leaves are turning colors, school has started, and it’s time to
re-activate the chess clubs. This year, OHSCTA is doing some exciting
things. Among the most interesting is the innovative cyber-league that
will start this year for schools that are seeking competition but are
physically too far away from other schools to participate in the tradition
“face to face” competitions. Kate Taylor, leader of the state champion
team from Clatskanie and our organization’s webmaster, is the organizer for
the cyber-league. If you are interested in joining, please contact her at
email@example.com to get the information you need.
For those of us not too distant from other teams, the Portland Area League
and the Midwestern (Eugene Area) leagues are available. If you want the
challenge of league competition, and could attend matches once a week in
either the Portland area (at Lincoln High School) or in the Eugene area
(most likely at Lane Community College,) please contact me and I will get
you the information that you need. Are other leagues forming? I heard of
possibilties in the mid Willamette Valley and in central Oregon, but my
efforts to contact people in those places have not been successful. If you
know of something going on in those locations, please tell us!
Recruiting of new programs is going well. The Midwestern League will add
teams this year from Junction City and Creswell, and last I heard, Grant is
a possibility for joining the Portland area league. It is still not too
late for teams to form. We also welcome the program from Hosanna Christian
School in Klamath Falls.
The 2006 OHSCTA state tournament is still scheduled for February 24 and 25
at Cottage Grove. Earlier I sent a message about lodging. At that time, I
did not have a response from the Village Green. Now I do, and as I
predicted, the rates there are about the same as the other places, $69 plus
tax per room. The phone number for reservations is 1-800-343-7666. The
regular desk phone number is 541-942-2386.
I also want to note the retirement from coaching on the part of two of our
friends, Tim Kniser of Benson and Sandra Green of Thurston. We thank you
and appreciate your service to the young people with whom you have
worked. OHSCTA may be for young people, but we all know that it could not
be successful without adults who are willing to devote time, energy, and
care to make it all work. Thanks, Tim and Sandra, and best wishes as you
move to other pursuits.
So now it’s time to get back to work. Let’s make this a great
season! Please let me know if there’s anything you need, and I’ll try to
connect you with the appropriate resources.
Executive Secretary, OHSCTA
In the midst of the rush of back-to-school, it is time to think about
chess. We need to do that now, because if we wait too long, other worthy
pastimes will attract the attention of prospective players and we will lose
our chance to get their attention.
Please permit me the opportunity to make the following suggestions:
1–If you do not have a year-round organization, NOW is the right time to
form your club. For some ideas on how to get started, please check out the
excellent OHSCTA website at http://ohscta.tripod.com
2–NOW is the time to issue invitations to friends and colleagues you may
have at other high schools to get started. Last year I established a goal
of adding 15 schools to OHSCTA in one year, and based on what I’ve heard,
we are approaching that number already. However, many have not registered
on the OHSCTA website, so we’re not really certain what their status
is. Please encourage any interested potential coach, advisor, or player to
contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will help them get started. If
you have not sent your contact information and registered as an OHSCTA
member, we don’t know if you’re “in” or “out,” so please let us know. You
can do that by contacting Kate Taylor at email@example.com and she
will get you registered.
3–If you have just recently formed a team and are looking to get into a
league, NOW is the time to contact the nearest league director (Steve Hawke
in the Portland area, myself in the Eugene area, Kate Taylor for
cyber-league activity) and let him/her know you want to participate. It is
very tough, and often, not feasible, to include teams once the schedule is
written and the competition has started. The Portland league starts before
Thanksgiving, and the Eugene league starts the week after Thanksgiving, but
the schedules are written quite a bit before that.
4–NOW is the time to pencil into your schedule the OHSCTA state tournament
for 2006. It will be February 24 and 25, a Friday and Saturday, at Cottage
Grove High School, about 25 miles south of Eugene. Although motel
information will be out later, I would recommend that you consider
“googling” Cottage Grove and getting room reservations as soon as
possible. It is an open tournament (see the by-laws on the website for all
the particulars regarding qualifications, age/grade/attendance of players,
and so on) so no matter where your team might be in terms of competitive
play, we have a division that will be right for you!
5–NOW may be a little soon for the next few items, but in keeping with the
theme, NOW is the time to begin considering whether you would be
willing/interested in becoming the Executive Secretary-elect for the
2006-2007 season, which carries with it the responsibility of becoming the
Executive Secretary for the 2007-09 biennium, and NOW would be a good time
to start thinking about hosting the 2007 state tournament, if your school
is in one of the five counties that is named in our by-laws as “northern
Oregon.” I think they are Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Yamhill, and
So, welcome back, let’s get started, and please let me know if I can be of
any assistance to you.
It is an honor to work with such outstanding people!
May has been a productive month for OHSCTA.
Goal A–To provide an annual State Chess Team Tournament. I ran into Neil Dale in Eugene and hired him to be our Tournament Director for the 2006 tournament. He agreed to a fee of $200, and although I offered to cover his motel bill as well, he said he would handle it. Also, it appears that CGHS will close for the day on February 24th so that we can be all set up and ready to go on the day of the tournament. This is a big deal for our school and community!
Goal B–To encourage new teams to form and leagues to continue. There are some really good prospects out there. Most recently, I heard from Mark Keel at Sisters, who tells me that his work has resulted in the apparent formation of teams at Bend and at LaPine. Great job, Mark! Next Thursday, I will travel to Creswell High School to meet with players and adults who are interested in getting started there. There are other prospects and we are working on them.
Under Article IV, Subsection 4 (h), I am supposed to be the spokesperson for the organization to other chess organizations. On May 7, I addressed the board of directors of the Oregon Chess Federation. In that presentation, I asked OCF to officially recognize our organization, which is an oversight that has not been dealt with for decades. I cited to them that our organization deserves their recognition for several reasons:
1–Longevity. We have gone over 40 years without ever missing holding a tournament.
2–Legitimacy. On a de facto basis, we have been recognized by every major chess organization in the state. They schedule their events around ours, but it’s just not official yet.
3–Dynamic Growth. Our organization is very active and growing rapidly. We are not in danger of losing what we have built.
4–History of Integrity. To the best of my knowledge, I do not know of any instances in the history of the organization in which we have had to deal with malfeasance of any kind. There has never been a schism in our organization, nor has there every been even a hint of accusation that we are, as an organization, unfair in any way. OHSCTA has much to be proud of!
The OCF board received this well, with a few clarifying questions. They told me they as a board could not act except to make a recommendation to their general membership, which next meets at the Oregon Open over Labor Day weekend. However, they were very positive and I believe that before we have our next tournament, we will have OCF certification.
Why, some might ask, would we seek this? For a number of reasons. First, it is a measure for our protection. Imagine that a group in, let’s say, Grants Pass and Medford, decided to form teams and name a state champion. This OCF certification nullifies their claim and reinforces ours. Second, by acting in this way, OCF is stepping up as the official organization in Oregon that controls what a state championship is and what it is not. By submitting to OCF, we are preserving order, so that as new organizations rise up, they will know exactly where they need to go to receive their legitimacy.
High school chess continues to grow. I believe we are on the verge of an explosion in the number of high school chess teams. In March, I expressed a goal of adding 15 teams this year. I still believe that can be done, with your help. By working hard in central Oregon, Mark Keel has already apparently added 2 teams. We have also identified a few other new programs, so I think we are well on our way. Let’s keep up the effort!
That’s it for May. Unless something significant happens, there will be minimal communication during the summer months. However, stay tuned; you never know when something big will come the way of the OHSCTA!!
With best wishes to all for an intriguing, interesting, relaxing, or whatever you want summer,
It seems appropriate that from time to time I inform you as to what I am doing regarding OHSCTA, so here is my report for April, 2005:Constitution Goal One–Our tournament–The tournament for 2006 is still scheduled at Cottage Grove High School for Friday, February 24 and Saturday, February 25. Arrangements are being made to have school released early that day so as not to interfere with the arrival of our guests.
Constitution Goal Two–Recruitment and support of teams and leagues–I have worked tirelessly on this, contacting students and chess clubs all over the state. This is a long, slow process. Last week I was invited to the Eugene Chess Club to give a short speech and invitation. That meeting was fruitful; out of it came one person willing to help establish a chess team at Willamette High School, one person willing to assist the team at Sheldon, and a potential challenge match for our teams for next year by members of the ECC. Additionally, I am happy to let you know that we have broken into the mid-valley with the formation of a club at Philomath High School, and just today I have heard from someone ready to help get things
started at South Salem. Also, I have heard from a teacher at David Douglas who is interested in forming a program, but is having some trouble recruiting players there.
Here is the resolution I have forwarded to them for their consideration:
“Be it resolved by the Board of Directors of the Oregon Chess Federation that:
1) The Oregon High School Chess Team Association is the official and only recognized organization authorized to hold state championship tournaments for high school chess teams in Oregon.
2) The Oregon High School Chess Team Association is the only organization in the state authorized to name a high school chess team state champion, to award other placements to high school chess teams, and to award ‘all-state’ awards to individual players.
3) This resolution shall remain in effect until either the Oregon Chess Federation or the Oregon High School Chess Team Association, with due notice of at least one year, shall withdraw from the agreement.”
Of course, I would welcome the input and assistance of all on any one of the items listed above. There is a special need for people to be in touch with other schools, inviting them and showing them how they could set up chess programs.
Of all the things that have happened so far, I am most excited about getting our foot in the door in Philomath and in Salem. Our organization’s growth continues to be a sign of its vitality. In Lane County, we have excellent prospects of adding teams from Creswell and Willamette, and possibly Lowell.
Our organization is only as vital as the members choose to make it. Again, I want to encourage everyone to find ways to invite and include more schools. We are on the way; let’s keep it going!
Just a note to let you know that efforts to expand our organization are beginning to bear some fruit. A phone call last evening indicates that West Albany High School intends to form a club and team, the person I spoke to, a student at West, says he has friends who attend other high schools in Albany and Corvallis and he intends to challenge them to get started as well.
We also have a new team forming in Philomath, so at least the southern part of the mid-valley is being responsive to our invitation. I continue to believe that if we can just make invitations, many will respond. There are chess players in every high school in the state, and many have never heard about us. There is much work to be done, especially in Salem and in places on the east side of the Portland Metro Area and into Gresham.I hope the news about Philomath and Albany encourages you. Please join me in actively spreading the word about OHSCTA to non-member schools.
Thanks, and best wishes,