Spokane Chess 2009
As luck would have it, I worked my way into a mammoth volunteer project. The seeds of the project were sown when a Spokane bid for the 2005 state elementary tournament lost by one vote. During the same meeting, the level of state organization took a jump in the creation of the WSECC Policy Board and detailed policies governing the state tournament.
In the wake of that meeting, I suggested to those responsible for the failed bid that we should bring the event to Spokane in 2009.
Two important related aspects of the expanded policies were that the site would follow a pattern of regional rotation among three vastly different areas of the state, and that bids from the hosting region must be presented two years out. Formerly, the next's year's tournament date, location, and organizers were selected at the event. That is, the 2005 event host was selected at the 2004 coaches meeting. Organizers had as little as eleven months to put together all aspects of the event.
This scholastic tournament has been growing rapidly in recent years. What once took place in a high school gym, now requires a larger facility. When I first attended in 2001, there were two sections, K-3 and 4-6. In 2003, there were seven sections--each grade level was a separate section. In 2007, two side events were added: Friday night Bughouse and I Love Chess 2. In 2008, a few adults participated in I Love Chess 2.
Two years out is a minimal time to start the process of reserving a facility that can accommodate 1200-1500 players and an even larger number of support personnel--parents, coaches, siblings. The bids for 2006 and 2007 were accepted at the 2005 coaches meeting in Lynden, Washington. The 2008 bid was accepted at the 2006 tournament. At that meeting I was elected as one of two eastern Washington representatives on the Policy Board. My term expired at the 2008 tournament.
In January 2007, I started working with the Spokane Regional Sports Commission and the Spokane Chess Club's Gary Younker Foundation to put together a bid for the 2009 Washington State Elementary Chess Championship. A key aspect of creating a bid was finding a venue that was available on a Saturday in late March to late April on a weekend that did not correspond with the dates of Nationals, Easter, and Passover. At the 2007 tournament in Vancouver, the coaches accepted the Spokane bid. The following week, I met with a sales representative at the Spokane Convention Center to get the rental contract drawn up.
In May 2007, the local organizing committee held its first formal meeting to begin planning the details. This committee was assembled through personal contacts and verbal commitments during the process of writing the bid, but the real work began after the bid was approved. I drafted and presented a preliminary budget at this meeting.
Through all of 2007, I might have put in twenty hours of labor preparing the bid and assembling a group of core volunteers. In March 2008, regular work began. Some weeks, I put in as little as a hour--talking with key personnel, making phone calls, reviewing priorities. In May 2008, the local organizing committee began meeting monthly, although we skipped one month in the summer. In October 2008, we secured a corporate sponsor. A second, Chess.com, came forward in December 2008 (and we still need more).
Yesterday, we officially opened registration. I am much relieved to have finally reached this critical stage of a long process. Now, I am putting in 10-20 hours per work each week. The Director of the Chess Enrichment Association, last year's organizer / host / tournament director, has told me that I can expect much longer days in April.
See our website at Spokane Chess 2009.
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