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  • Jeff Roland

Honors at Idaho Scholastic 9-12 Championship

Jeff Roland opens the -12th grade Scholastic State Championship with 1. e4. photo: Adam Porth

Eleven players participated in the 2017 Idaho Scholastic 9-12 Championship held at the Red Lion Riverside in Boise, Idaho on March 4, 2017. This was the 38th Annual Idaho Scholastic Championship event.

I was working on the April 2017 issue of Northwest Chess (actually entering games into PGN from the images of score sheets of the Oregon Closed Championship Section at the time) when I thought to myself, “Why not go down and check out the action of the Idaho Scholastic Championship, maybe even take some pictures for the magazine?” I have always had a special place in my heart for this annual event (which is why I have been involved in 35 of the last 38 annual events).

The Idaho Scholastic Championship of 1980 was where I played in my first-ever tournament (the five-round qualifying tournament was held February 23, 1980 and the four-round Final was held March 29, 1980), where I was a 17-year-old senior, placed 9th out of 14 players, and where I met my life-long friend, the late Dick Vandenburg, who was the creator, inventor, and founder of the Idaho Scholastics in 1980. Dick was amazing; he inspired all the kids, but for me personally, he started me on the road to a lifetime of loving and playing chess--and I am so glad! It’s something that you can’t just keep inside; you have to share something like that!

At the 2017 event, I was given two very high honors. Adam Porth asked if I would make the first move on the top board of the first round to kick off the tournament. That was Alexander Goodwin (White) versus Wesley Nyblade III (Black). The joke was what if I played 1.g4, would he be stuck with that? I don’t know, maybe, maybe not, but I wouldn’t do that to anybody! I asked him what he wanted to do and honored that request. For those who like to know everything, the move was 1.e4, which I think is a very good move!!

The other honor was that I was asked to actually play a rated game as a house player for the first round since there was an odd number of players. This is the first time in my whole life that I have played anywhere as a “house player” and I loved it. My opponent was Jeffrey Gorven and I could tell he was a bit nervous. But as I remember from 1980, this was a chance to really inspire and encourage a young player and so for me this game was a very important encounter. It didn’t count against the player either as he scored a one-point bye no matter what, but this game was a chance to play a rated game and gain experience.

I then went home but couldn’t get myself motivated to enter more games from the Oregon Closed into PGN because I just had to know what was going on at the tournament… so I went back!! I got to play yet another game in round five as a house player, this time against Andrew Kitterman. And I witnessed that the new Idaho Scholastic Champion and Denker representative from Idaho would be Seth Machakos, who won with a perfect 5.0/5 score.

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