Sunday, April 20, 2008


Sunday night. It's over. Seven four hour rounds over three days. Over 1200 players, many of whom were rated over 2000.

Garfield finished 12th among fifty teams, an incredible accomplishment for a team not even contemplating Nationals a few months ago. The top teams came from all over the country and included a couple of very strong Arizona teams, Stuyvesant HS from New York City, and Bellaire from Houston (where Garfield's best player from last year now goes). All six Garfield players won games against higher-rated players.

Results at: High School Nationals

Garfield at Washington State Championships

Peachtree Center

This year's tournament is being held at the Hyatt - which is quite an experience for kids whose experience is limited to Motel 6. The elevators gridlock about 20 minutes before every round as the players race down from their rooms, which is probably annoying to business folks and others not here for the tournament.

Centennial Olympic Park

I tried to talk the guys into getting outside for a little bit before the last round - they probably haven't left the hotel since we got here except to cross the sky bridge to the food court. But they were content to hang out in the room watching TV, so I wandered off on my own.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Round Five

Garfield moved back up several notches in the team standings with a strong 4th round this afternoon. If they can stay awake through tomorrow's games, they may do pretty well in the tournament.

D had a great afternoon round, beating his first Master! Of course, that means tonight's matchup is even tougher (2263).


Wednesday morning in the middle of the Pacific, Wednesday night in Seattle, and Thursday night in Atlanta. The miracle of fossil fuel. D and the rest of the Garfield team are now in Round Four of seven at High School Nationals. They stayed near the top through the first two rounds, but Round Three was tough and they've slipped a bit. D has been doing well, with a win and a draw against players over 2000, but he's playing a Master (2214) this time.

I don't have any reasonable pictures of the players or chess triviana or the hotel yet, but I did take some pictures this morning of some slightly damaged downtown skyscrapers during a walk through Olympic Centennial Park. The March 14th tornado sucked the windows out of the towers and apparently it takes a while to replace all the glass. Good thing the Southeastern Conference game went into overtime that night at the Georgia Dome, or lots of folks would have been caught out in the street when the twister hit. I don't think there are tornadoes in the current forecast, although Wednesday evening our flight took a very long detour around the the big storms that were hammering North Texas. Two years ago, when we were in Louisville for Nationals, there was a tornado warning during one of the rounds which confused the tournament for a little while, but which didn't result in an actual tornado.

North Shore

Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach. I guess this is the Jackson Hole of surfing. The big waves of winter have faded, but it was still pretty impressive. I find it amazing these dudes don't get killed more often. Whether by running over each other, getting turned into laundry by the waves themselves, or bouncing off the bottom (which is jagged coral off shore, not soft sand).


This northern most tip of Oahu was hard hit by the 1946 tsunami, which washed a mile inland and was 20-30 feet deep. That was before the big hotel and the golf courses. Apparently, this place is financially strapped and they feel a few more hotels and golf courses would make a difference. The locals may feel differently. Interesting place for three days of geology and engineering talks related to tsunamis, coastal erosion, and rising sea levels!


I spent the afternoon driving around the southeast end of the island, which was beautiful, and then up the eastern shore (which got a little grayer). I snorkeled in Hanauma Bay (me and about a million other tourists) and stopped at every pull out and beach I had time for. I even took the side trip up to the Pali Lookout Highway 61.


Saturday evening on Waikiki. Another nice sunset, although a completely different context than the previous evening at Polihale. Tons of people, although I suspect it often gets far more crowded. High rises stacked on the beach. Hawaiiian and Polynesian music from each hotel. I wandered up to the Sheraton's patio and had Mahi tacos and a Longboard while sitting 10' feet back from the seawall (there isn't much beach in front of this section of Waikiki). Pleasant, but something was still missing. I would have called her, but it was already too late in Seattle.

The next morning I had a great walk. When I started, the sun was barely up and the beach was empty. By the end of the walk, it was packed. I waved to D through the webcam at Duke Kahanemoku's statue. When I got back to the hotel, I discovered I'd taken my last couple of hundred photos with the camera set at 640x480 resolution. Guess I won't be printing this batch of pictures!


I spent an evening, two full days, and a morning on Kauai. Not enough time for helicopter flights, boat cruises, or relaxing around the pool, but enough time to get a pretty good sense of the landscape. There were several "wow"s. The walk along the cliffs at Pao'a Point, east of Poipu between the pocket beaches in Maha'ulepu. Looking over the top of the Na Pali cliffs down the Kalalau Valley. And that spectacular sunset at Polihale. These are a few of the not quite so spectacular places.


Wow! Sunsets are common, but some are a lot more special than others. Context really counts. Here on Kauai's (maybe America's?) farthest shore, where the beach gives way to the Na Pali coast, it was well worth the five miles of dirt road (don't tell the rental car company!) and the postponement of dinner. I've really got to start bringing the family along on these trips, although I guess the solitude is part of the context.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Waimea Canyon

Pretty amazing diversity of scenery on an island barely 30 miles across. I drove up above Waimea Canyon last Friday afternoon (I'm writing this the following Friday afternoon in Atlanta). The road climbs to several thousand feet along the edge of the canyon and then winds across the top of the 5 million year old volcano to the brink of the Na Pali cliffs, where you get to look out over the Pacific. 30 minutes later, I was back at Jo Jo's Clubhouse in Waimea for shaved ice.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I expected the colorful birds and the lizards. It's the chickens I hadn't planned on. They were all over Ke'e Beach. They are all over the roads. They are all over everywhere. Some lesson here about island biogeography. I assume they are not native. Probably related to all those feral cats running around wild. (note added later: chickens are not native, but were domesticated on island -- Hurricane Iniki (1992?) set them free and apparently they have been doing quite well ever since. The red-headed cardinal is also introduced. As are most of the humans living on, let alone visiting, the islands.


Princeville is sort of the anti-Hanalei. High on the hill, golf courses, big houses, and not much forest left. And a big gloppy hotel with free internet and expensive beer (which I guess means the internet isn't really free). The patio looks out over Hanalei Bay, which is pretty gray and dull green right now, although the worst of the rain is over. It's a great view of the waterfalls in the mountains.


Hanalei is one of those places that calls itself the end of the road. But it really isn't the end of the road, which continues another ten miles west until the coastline gets so steep the notion of a road doesn't make much sense. The road ends at Ke'e Beach at the eastern end of the Na Pali coast. i tried snorkeling and it actually worked pretty well - at least I saw a lot of fish - despite water seeping into the face mask through my mustache. The weather got nicer right up until I left the beach.

It started raining as I headed back into town - rocks were falling on the road and the streams were rising and muddy. I was in the line at Bubba's Burgers when the rain got serious and spent most of the storm from the cover of the porch at Java Kai. Rumor is that they had to close the road for a while.