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MACA Chess Horizons Magazine Article
 Hurvitz Cup Tournament
 David Yasinovsky
  April 2010

On the surprisingly warm morning of Sunday, March 7th, I arrived with Maryanne Reilly at the Hilton Garden Inn in Waltham. The lobby was empty, but as we rushed into the Convention room behind the entrance hall Ken Ballou and Brian Lafferty loomed in front of us, calmly arranging trophies in rows of ascending height and grandeur. Chris Bird, a tournament director for the Continental Chess Association who had volunteered to help out, was surveying the convention room with a slight grimace on his face. The venue of the tournament had been suddenly moved from the Sage School in Foxborough, and because the Hilton staff had only had a few precious hours to prepare the playing hall there were still many discrepancies left to work out. The tables were in disarray, some of them not thick enough to hold a chessboard, some of them positioned at angles, and some leaning against the walls, yet to be assembled. With half an hour to go before the official start of play, the prospects for the tournament to start on time seemed bleak.

Once Maryanne saw the tournament hall, she summoned the manager of the staff. “Victor” was told briskly to get more tables, and to find some wingmen to help us move the existing ones into place. Everyone was put to work, Brian, Chris Bird and I adjusting the tablecloth- laden monstrosities into clean rows of five, Maryanne and Ken dragging never-ending boxes from their cars into the hall, and the staff of the hotel bringing more and more accessories down from their storage. I taped down the final board number and Ken conjured up the first round pairings. All of the preparations had been accomplished. Children filed into the convention room, while the parents and coaches were kept intrepidly at bay. The games could begin.

The next hours passed The next hours passed by quickly, in a blaze of raised hands, marked-up pairing sheets, and small hands clutching ecstatically to newly earned trophies. All of the sections were incredibly hardfought, with the high-school section this year one of the strongest that I, in my short recollection, can remember. Wars were waged on the board, and team mates had to watch in agony as their partner’s lonesome kings were chased from square to square, while their opponent’s friends brimmed with frustration at his inability to find the lethal blow.

At the end of the carnage, the lower sections all came out with a clean winner while the High School, fittingly, saw a tie between Newton North and Lexington. The teams drew each other in round two, and even though each team won their other matches to finish at 3.5/4 the Newton North team took home the first place trophy as they, unlike the Lexington squad, had each match live. The Lexington team had been issued a bye in the last round (a consequence of the odd number of teams in the section) and their tiebreak had been significantly handicapped by this. Boston University Academy rounded up the Podium in the High School section, their 3.0/4 earning them a very respectable third place.

In the Middle School section, Jonas Clarke Middle School won all of their matches to pull away with First place, with R. J. Grey Junior High School snatching second, their only loss coming to the top-scoring team. BB&N school, though a rating underdog to its rivals for the top honors, had a very strong tournament but was hampered by a 3.5- 0.5 loss to Jonas Clarke, which left them in third place. In the K-6 tournament, Conant Elementary School cleaned up to sweep first place with 4/4 while the 2-4 places were divided between Bridge School and Sage School Teams A & B, with the former claiming the silver medal on tiebreaks.

In the K-3 section, the ratingfavored Cabot School carved their name on the trophy with yet another sweep, while the original host school’s team Sage School Team A picked up second place with an undefeated 3.0/4. There was a 4-way tie for third place in the section with BB&N, Conant, John Nixon, and Horace Mann laying claim to the title, but BB&N won out on tiebreaks.

And so an extremely exciting edition of the Hurvitz Cup came to an end. The players had competed valiantly, and even though only some left the building carrying hardware every contestant behaved like a champion, navigating the crowded and hectic venue as well as the slightly-overstressed directors to successfully do what they were there to do: play chess. The parents were incredibly co-operative and supportive, and of course it is important to acknowledge the oftenunderappreciated work of Ken Ballou, Brian Lafferty, Chris Bird, Beebe Wiegand, Steve Frymer and Brian Mottershead. Maryanne Reilly, our esteemed Madame President, put great effort into organizing this event and making sure it ran smoothly. In addition to being the President of MACA, Maryanne is the scholastic coordinator for the organization. She describes her rationale behind holding down the double position: “I do so love—after years of being scholastic coordinator—watching kids who were once kids grow into adults, and watching their attraction to chess grow into something that helps them become adults.” Well, one of the kids that Maryanne watched grow up is now sitting here trying to write about her, but cannot find the right words. I guess there is always something more we can learn.

At the Hurvitz this year, there was stress, and there was laughter. There were tears and there were smiles. There was passion, and there was compassion. At the Hurvitz, we didn’t need the sunshine of the spring day outside. We didn’t need the paranoia of the world around us. All we needed were chess sets, and we created happiness. Let us hope that we will all come together to do the same next year.