Sunday, March 04, 2007

Ray Shines as Host of Citywide Tournament

It was one of the liveliest Saturdays Ray has seen in years, as kids from almost twenty schools in Chicago and the suburbs matched wits yesterday in the first citywide chess tournament the school has ever hosted.

The event, put on by the Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago in cooperation with the Ray School Chess Club, drew about 115 K-8 students from all over the area and produced one of the most exciting competitions in which Ray kids have taken part.

Ray was represented by 25 students, the largest number ever to play in a tournament. And they played superbly, five of them winning trophies. Leading the way was fourth-grader Karen Dai, with a first-place finish in the highly competitive intermediate division. Sonam Ford also won a trophy for his sixth-place showing in that category, and Phillip Parker-Turner finished third playing for the first time in the foundation’s blistering advanced division. In the beginner category, fourth graders Andy Margulis (5th) and Nikolaj Reiser (6th) won trophies for their top-ten showings.

Competition for the team trophy was intense and went right down to the wire, Disney Magnet School prevailing by a hair over Ancona and Ray.

The beginner division was won by Devonald Manney of North Kenwood/Oakland Charter School. Chenliang Luo of Edgebrook Elementary was the tournament’s overall champion, taking first place in the advanced division.

Several Ray kids played in their first tournament, including Tavaris Sadler, Kevin Di, Gonzalo Higuero, William Burke, Jonas Hufer, and Tavian Cervantez. They all scored points with victories or draws. A few chess club veterans also returned to tournament competition for the first time in awhile: Zach Hayes, Nikolaj Reiser, Hope Scrutchions, and Eric Yuen. The chess club home page has a complete list of the Ray students who attended.

Some of the biggest stars of the day, however, were Ray parents, who showed up in droves as they so often do to roll up their sleeves and make the event a success. I won’t even try to name all of them here for fear of forgetting someone, but I have to single out Julie Vassilatos, who, with the help of a small army of chess moms and dads (you know who you are), did a magnificent job on the event's most difficult task: organizing the food and drinks.

For running an excellent tournament as they always do, thanks go to the Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago, including Mike Cardinale, Saadiq Sajjaad, Val Halliday, and their legions of highly efficient volunteers.

A million thanks for all these outstanding pictures go to Lamarr Wilson of the new and exciting site, about which we will have more to say very soon. To see all of Lamarr’s photos from the tournament, including shots of Ray kids getting their trophies, go here. Oh, yes, and he’s already blogged about the tournament.

And last but by no means least, in an item unrelated to the tournament, thanks to chess dad Peter Margulis for a generous donation to the chess club.


Julie Vassilatos said...

It was a fun day and I too appreciate the army of Ray parents! Our kids had a great time and I'm looking forward to next year's tournament. Thanks for all you do, Tom and Emil!

Lamarr Wilson said...

Excellent write up; much better than mine (seriously). You have a great bunch of parents there at Ray!