2005 Notes

Tournament Notes & Post-Tournament News
by OHSCTA Executive Secretary Mike Wolfe

Mike Wolfe
OHSCTA Executive Secretary
Thanks to everyone for one of the most exciting and successful state tournaments in recent memory.  The competition was fierce, the hospitality was wonderful, and how nice to meet and greet new and old friends.

Congratulations especially to Kate Taylor and our new state champions from Clatskanie.  It goes to show you that you don’t have to be from a big city to put together a program that can compete with, and defeat, the rest of the challengers.

Congratulations too to Stephen Runion, our tournament host, for his outstanding effort to make us all comfortable and to do with efficiency all he was called upon to do.  I only hope I can do a fraction as well as he did as we host everyone next year at Cottage Grove.  (Pencil it in–February 24 and 25, 2006!)

Thanks to Alan Svehaug for two years as our Executive Secretary.  Alan is a person who thinks outside the box, and his contribution this year of trophies to middle school teams was brilliant.  I watched him make tough decisions a couple of times at the tournament this weekend and I was impressed with his wisdom, compassion, and sense of fairness for everyone.

Kudos as well to Neil Dale, our tournament director, and to Steve Hawke, who ably assisted him and who has already provided me with several words of wisdom.
Thanks too to everyone else who assisted.  I dare not claim to have an exhaustive list because I will forget someone, so, you know who you are, and you are wonderful!
Now I begin a term as the OHSCTA Executive Secretary.  The goal I have selected as the focus of my term will be to promote the building of new programs and new leagues.  We have already heard of the possibility of a league including McMinnville and the Delphian School, along with Amity, and possibly Newberg and Yamhill-Carlton, and maybe more.  We also hear there may be something forming in Central Oregon, and Kate Taylor and others are exploring the possibility of a “cyber-league” for those who are more remote.

If you have contacts in Oregon high schools where chess teams do not exist, I call upon you to use whatever influence you have to get things started.  I plan to “heat up” the contacts with other schools, and to keep the pressure on, because once these schools get started, they will have as much fun as we do!  Just imagine the current field, but add in teams from the Salem area, southern Oregon, the coast, eastern Oregon, and so on. Our tournament is already a great event, but more participation would make it even more exciting.

I also believe we have some unresolved issues involving the participation of teams composed entirely of middle schoolers.  I liked Alan’s solution of special trophies just for them, but would like to hear what others thought of that.  Also, at our next tournament, we will need to elect an Executive Secretary-elect and establish a site for our 2007 tournament, so please give those items some consideration.

We have incredible talent in the teachers, coaches, advisors, and volunteers in our organization.  Again, thank you all, and please stay in touch with your thoughts and ideas to help us continuously improve OHSCTA and our state tournament.


MARCH 27, 2005
Now that about a month has gone by, and people have had a chance either to bask in glory or heal their wounds, I would like to de-brief the 2005 tournament. I want everyone to know that what follows is not meant to be a criticism of any specific or individual person(s); rather, I want us to take an already-excellent tournament and make it even better. If others choose to participate in this thread, I hope they will also remember to criticize events rather than people, and to remember that it is never going to be perfect. When I speak of “tournament organization” below, I
am referring to the way the tournament was set up and run, the rules that govern it (aside from the rules of chess, which we cannot change!) and so on.
Please answer these questions:

1–What was the strongest aspect of the tournament’s organization for you and your players? In other words, what are we doing well that we need to continue to do?

2–What was the weakest aspect of the tournament’s organization for you and your players? In other words, what needs to change, immediately?

3–What is something that we are NOT doing, but you would like to see happen?

Here are my answers, just to get the discussion started:

1–While there were many really great things going on, the thing I liked best about the tournament organization was the formation of a division just for middle school teams. Thanks again to Alan for bringing the trophies. I also appreciated that we started each round as nearly to on time as we could.

2–The biggest concern I had was with distracting behaviors:

2a–One concern I had about the 2005 tournament was there was too much talking in the tournament hall during the matches. I even heard about one team doing analysis of a position while the match was still being played, within earshot of the players! This is totally illegal and if we hear it, it must be stopped immediately. But it’s also illegal to talk at all, aside from the customary exchanges. Inside the tournament hall, there should be no sounds but chess pieces moving, clocks clicking, and the like. Please remind your players that they are not to talk at in the
tournament hall. While I very much like and endorse the relationships that grow out of chess events, the conversations must be carried on outside.

2b–We have had problems at our tournament the past two years with electronic devices in the tournament room.

Cell phones are banned from the tournament room by FIDE, the international establishment that rules chess. According to FIDE rules, a player whose cell phone rings during a match shall forfeit the match. After examining the board, the arbiter then assigns the opponent either 1/2 point or a full point depending on the arbiter’s discretion.

In addition, the following items could give a player illegal assistance:

Hand held video games (could have analysis software)
Palm pilots (same)

Finally, the following can be just plain obnoxious to those around them:

CD players, MP3 players, and the like

It will be my position as Executive Secretary and as Tournament Host for 2006 that players should not be in possession of these devices inside the tournament hall. Advisors/coaches can assume responsibility for collecting and holding on to cell phones and other electronic devices. I realize we can’t control what someone brings in in his backpack, but I hope coaches will join me in attempting to rid the tournament hall of these items which are distracting at best, and against the rules of chess at worst.

3–How about a coaches’ clinic put on by one or more of our more experienced coaches? If we have as many new teams next year as I hope we will, there should be several coaches hungry for assistance. It could be an organized thing with a program, or just a time and place set aside for a question-and-answer session.

So, that’s my initial input. Our tournaments have been great, and they can continue to improve each year. If you have things to share, please chime in!

Thanks, and best wishes,


FEBRUARY 28, 2005

I have a challenge for each and every OHSCTA member school out there…call someone you know at another high school that doesn’t have a chess program and issue a personal invitation to them to get one started.  A map of our state’s Programs would show vast empty spaces between Eugene and Portland, up and down much of the coast, south of Eugene on I-5 all the way to the California border, and only a few programs in central and eastern Oregon.  The odds are that almost everyone knows someone who works in or has kids or contacts in a school without a chess club.

USCF offers free equipment to schools that are starting up.  (Call the US Chess Federation at 1-800-388-KING and ask for their “Chess-for-Youth” Questionnaire)

Of course, you can promise them support in the form of advice and friendly consultation from all OHSCTA members as well!

The fact that the past two championships have been won by 2A schools shows that you don’t have to be a big school to have a great program.

Also, because you have seen the good things that happen, you already know the selling points, but for everyone’s sake, let’s build a document that can be circulated called something like “Why YOUR School Should Have a Chess Program”  If Someone with excellent writing and research skills would like to take this on, please let me know, and we will post it on the web and probably send it out to as many schools as we can. Give us the talking points we can use as we discuss this with others.We all know that personal invitations work the best.  Please, accept my challenge.  Call a friend who works at or has a child or other contact at a high school without a chess program, and let’s just see how many programs we can get going.

My goal is that by this time next year, there are at least 15 new programs out there.  My goal for the end of my two-year term is 30.  I especially want to see something happen on the I-5 corridor between Eugene and Portland.  Do we really believe there’s no interest in Albany, Corvallis, Salem, or the surrounding areas?

With best wishes to you all, please, make those contacts, and report your successes to encourage the rest of us.

I know you already do a lot for scholastic chess.  I’m just asking for one more call.