By Kazandra Crisostomo
Congratulations to Igor and Yegorii Galchun, who attended the 2021 Gambit Scholastic Spring Tournament in Miami, Fla with the goal of defeating their opponents and winning the #1 chess trophy. Representing Wider Horizons School in the tournament, they reached rank 2 before being defeated by another group. I interviewed Igor and Yegorii and asked them about chess and competing in tournaments.
[KZ: Kazandra Crisostomo. I: Igor Galchun. Y: Yegorii Galchun.]
KZ: First of all, congratulations on your second place win in the 2021 Gambit Scholastic Spring Chess Tournament. How did ranking high for a tournament feel?
I: It felt pretty good, winning second place out of all the schools in the category.
KZ: How many schools were involved in the whole thing?
I: I think there were like five, I’d say, or six.
KZ: Five? Were they all around the same age? Or were there different categories for certain age groups?
I: No, the tournament was K-12. It was based on your ratings or your club that you were in, your group.
KZ: Chess ratings - what are those?
I: So, if you win a game against somebody that is stronger than you in ratings, then your rating goes up. So after about five tournaments, you have your real rating because at the first tournament, many people get really high ratings, then it starts going down or up…
KZ: ...based on how many opponents you defeat or lose against?
KZ: Did you train a lot for this tournament?
I: Not really.
Y: I did.
KZ: How long have you guys been playing chess then?
I: I’d say, me, about a year or a year and a half.
KZ: What?? You’ve been playing for longer than that, haven’t you? You’re good enough to win second place in a tournament!
Y: I’ve spent around four years.
KZ: I was going to say! Weren’t you playing chess where you were here before? Not necessarily tournament-wise, though?
I: I just played against my brother every now and then because he started playing.
KZ: Alright, so you’ve [to Igor] been playing in tournaments for two years? But you’ve been playing the game for a few years.
KZ: And you [to Yegorii] said you’ve been playing for four years?
KZ: Cool! For those chess tournaments, are there qualifying rounds you need to pass to participate in the tournaments?
I: No. I’m pretty sure all you need is an account on www.uschess.org, sign up for the tournament, and you’re in!
KZ: Oh! So in tournaments, are there set brackets for the opponents you go against? Like how in some sports, you defeat someone, then go up a rank until you reach the podium?
I: No. There’s a system for it. Usually, the top-rated player plays versus the lowest-rated player. It goes like that to the middle. Then whoever is the winner of that middle match goes against somebody who won previously.
KZ: Cool! So how long do games typically last?
I: Well, in our last tournament, it was 25 minutes per person. But in other tournaments, it can be 30 minutes to an hour.
KZ: How long do tournaments last? Does it take a whole day? A weekend?
I: I remember a tournament that was a weekend, but it depends on the tournament because there is usually a lunch break. That break time varies from tournament to tournament.
KZ: Will you do more tournaments after this? Aim for the top spot?
I: Of course!
KZ: So this tournament was called the 2021 Gambit Scholastic Spring Tournament. Can you tell us what ‘gambit’ means?
I: Gambit means to sacrifice a piece in order to gain an advantage.
KZ: Did you have to do any gambits for your winning plays?
I: Well, I remember in one game, I did an accidental gambit which gave me victory. There was one more gambit in a different game that I did. I had to give away a bishop in order to do a really big attack!
I have learned quite a bit from these two about chess tournaments. Can you believe that all you have to do to participate is to sign up online? This tournament even featured children from Kindergarten to 12th grade, although they would be in different categories based on their rating. The Galchun Boys taught me what the word ‘gambit’ means. Even though they ranked second in this tournament, they will continue to participate in more tournaments to finally reach that top spot in the strategic game of chess.