WENATCHEE — Headed into the fifth and final match of the 2020 Wenatchee Valley Youth Chess Tournament, Liam Schmidt and Davyn Pugmire were undefeated.
Though both had secured first place in their respective divisions — 6 to 8 for Liam and kindergarten to second for Davyn — this match would decide a hypothetical overall winner.
Here’s how it went, according to 8-year-old Davyn:
“Well, it was hard,” Davyn said. “Like, I was doing pretty good at him at the start of the game but then I accidentally put my queen in the open and then he took that and then my king was a bit open and then he checked me with a king and then he checked me with a rook and I only had one move at the time and it was right there and then he moved his knight somewhere that got me in checkmate.”
It happened that fast...
A dozen members of Wenatchee Valley Chess4kidz, an after-school chess club, competed in the tournament Saturday at Walla Walla Point Park. Schmidt played remotely via laptop.
The tournament was originally scheduled for March, but fell victim to mass event cancellations due to COVID-19 concerns, said club founder Keith Madsen.
Saturday was the first time club members have played in-person during the pandemic. Each player donned a mask and tables were spaced more than six feet apart in an effort to abide by social distancing guidelines. The tables and chess pieces were sanitized between matches.
“Considering that this is the first time we’ve done anything like this — face-to-face for the most part and using social distancing — I think it’s been fine,” Madsen said when asked how he thought the tournament was going.
He added, “We haven’t had any big issues. A couple kids will get too close and we’ll get them separated.”
Under previous circumstances, the players met after school in Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Leavenworth and Cashmere. Under current circumstances, the players play each other online through Zoom or at chesskids.com, Madsen said.
“Some of our chess players don’t like to play remotely — they like to play face-to-face,” Madsen said. “But some of them actually prefer the remote chess, so it kind of goes both ways.”
Each way has its benefits.
“Well, one advantage is if you’re face-to-face and the coaches aren’t watching you, the arguments over who moved where,” Madsen said. “You can’t have that on remote because it’s obvious. It’s recorded on a computer. And of course, the other advantage is that it’s safer because of COVID.”
After-school chess will resume Sept. 14. For information, visit wvchess4kidz.com.