Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Chess Mom Speaks Out

[Note: This is from Ray School chess mom Teresa Parker, whose son Phillip played at the Illinois K-8 championship this past weekend.]

I wanted to extend my congratulations to the Ray team and all of you for surviving the chaotic environment last Saturday at the CPS City Chess Tournament. We saw the blog at the end of Saturday, and we were horrified by the CPS debacle. Initially, we debated whether to participate in the CPS, because our son Phillip likes to play with his team. But as you know, we decided to go to the Illinois State K-8 tournament in Bloomington/Normal because Phillip was going to receive a special award as a Warren Chess Scholar. My sadness upon hearing that CPS so completely failed those 200+ kids and coaches that showed up hoping to compete and display their prowess has grown to anger.

You have my support as a parent to help in whatever way possible to get this to a media forum. This situation is very disturbing and is grossly in need of a change.

I am so angry that the CPS tournament director/coordinator [Mr. Larson] should undermine the good work of the hundreds of Chicago area kids and coaches who like and love the game of chess. Further, that it should have been so destroyed organizationally that half the teams left after the second round. I'm sure it demoralized the kids and put a sour taste in their mouths. Something must be done about this situation before Mr. Larson destroys the Chess program.

How can Mr. Larson and Mr. Davis have such little regard for the children? They are the ones that suffer in this scenario. It's not about politics, power plays, intimidation or arrogance. Mr. Larson's priorities are misdirected. He [Mr. Larson] deliberately hurt those children and the budding minds that are learning a distinctively intellectual scholastic pursuit.

Many children are learning to play, not just for the sport, but because it is improving their minds, their reasoning, not to mention their confidence. This is so critical to those chess programs that have volunteer coaches, parents that meet a couple of times a week with the children, before or after school, no matter what. This is especially poignant to those children in under-served neighborhoods, ones filled with crime and poverty, who find they can excel in at least one area - chess. These chess tournaments also help children from all neighborhoods/socio-economic backgrounds to compete on an even playing level - their minds. They learn about different people and develop friendships that might not otherwise occur.

The chess tournaments in Chicago produced by the YCFC have admirably served those critical-need neighborhoods and give those kids an intellectual outlet and a reprieve from the violence of their lives. How dare Mr. Larson deprive those kids the opportunity to shine and become proud of themselves, and their teammates' accomplishments?!

YCFC [Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago] should sponsor an alternative CPS tournament and send in the result to the CPS Board of Directors, and Mr. Davis. Certainly, YCFC knows how to run an organized event. I am certain the coaches, parents and school principals would also support it. Mr. Larson's level of competency for running an event of this scale is surely outdated and inexperienced. He has shown himself only capable of running the Tuley tournaments, which usually garner under 50 persons. The torch needs to be passed onto other person(s) in touch with the latest software and USCF regulation practices. The children deserve nothing less.

Finally, does Mr. Larson or Mr. Davis think the children don't know when a tournament is poorly run? They play in enough well-run tournaments that they can see for themselves what an incompetent job he has done and is stupefyingly continuing to do. Shame on Mr. Larson, Mr. Davis and the CPS Board of Directors for ignoring the needs CPS chess program. The Chicago program is growing and could continue to flourish if it weren't for Mr. Larson.

Bless those wonderful children that are playing chess in spite of these obstacles. May they continue to love the game.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Teresa! I think if enough of us complain there must be changes. Certainly all our children deserve it.