Friday, February 13, 2009

A Winner at the North American Open!

I'm publishing this story because it's from Isis' home town and it's good news. Today was generally a real downer; we could all use some good news. From Teen Wins Major Chess Championship Updated: Feb 13, 2009 05:54 PM CST Las Vegas is now home to a national chess champion. Cheyenne High School senior Michael Thomas didn't even start competition in chess until last year, and now he's taken took top honors for his division in the North American Open Chess Championship held at Bally's Hotel and Casino. "It's all about problem solving and putting your intelligence to the test, and I really like that," he said. The teen competed against 60 others, mostly adults, from 14 different states. He earned nearly $60,000 that he plans to use for college. "He's really a force to be reckoned with in chess, and his opponents now realize that and are intimidated, because when they sit down across from him, they don't just see a teen, they know they're dealing with someone who is going to control the game," said Michael's chess club coach Robert Tinnell. Thomas has already won several individual tournaments within the Clark County School District. He was also a member of the Cheyenne High School chess team that won the 2008 Nevada state championship.
So who is Michael Thomas? Wow! I checked USCF ratings and found one Michael Thomas listed for Nevada, which I assume is our young man. He has a rating of 1455 (I believe this is a rating adjusted for his results at the North American Open). I checked the North American Open results (started on December 26, 2008 at Bally's, the day dondelion and I left Las Vegas for Milwaukee). Thomas won Section 6, which had 60 players, all with ratings below 1300. I do not know where the news report got the $60,000 figure. For winning Section 6 outright with 6.5/7, Thomas won $8,000. This is certainly not chump change, but it's not $60,000 either! Will Mr. Thomas continue to play chess once he gets to college? Will he actually go to college if he has $60,000 in his pockets (or in the bank)? How many high school seniors do you know who would weigh the long-term consequences of spending the money on earning a college degree versus buying a hot car, silly clothes, bling, and being broke in a month?

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