What follows is a remarkable email received yesterday from the new President of the GCA, J Parnell Watkins, Jr.
It will be given to you straight, with a chaser at the end:
Parnell Watkins email
Fwd: 2022 K-8 State Team Qualifier
J Parnell Watkins, Jr.
Mon, Mar 14, 12:25 PM (22 hours ago)
I know you love bad news. I thought I would share my problems so you know what questions to ask on your next foray into the woes of the GCA. Good Hunting 😉
——— Forwarded message ———
From: J Parnell Watkins, Jr. firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Mon, Mar 14, 2022 at 12:20 PM
Subject: 2022 K-8 State Team Qualifier
Dear Players, Coaches, Parents, Family, and Volunteers,
First, thank you all for coming out to participate in our 2022 Metro Atlanta State Qualifier Event.
Two months ago when I took over the responsibility of GCA, I was told that it was impossible to put together a State Qualifier in time for the 2021-2022 calendar year. Well, this past Saturday we did just that, Scholastic Chess at the Championship level is back and well in Georgia. Thank you to all the players, coaches, volunteers, and parents who worked so hard on such short notice to make this a reality. I sincerely appreciate each one of you!
I wish I could say that we pulled it off without a hitch. I was not expecting that to happen and chose my shirt for the day appropriately (“I never lose, I either win or I learn”). Suffice to say I went home after a long day on Saturday, but with a lot of lessons to come back stronger next year! The three big problems we will improve for our next event are as follows:
1) Registration – I was told this would be a problem, but having no experience in this area I did not recognize the issues I was warned about and did not take corrective actions when they arose. This caused a long delay in starting the tournament on time. We will fix this issue and evaluate our current registration system.
2) Directing the Tournament. What is a minor mistake in an adult or small scholastic tournament may become a major issue in a large scholastic tournament. In the last round, two individuals who were controlling traffic at the door turned to put up chess sets in the last round while the last two games were in their final minutes. Parents took this as their cue to stream into the playing hall, over the objection of the TD’s. Normally we close the doors to the tournament hall, but for some reason did not in this tournament. We were not very effective about getting the parents out and starting the games in a timely manner. We forgot to put clocks on the slower games in at least one round. We failed to check pairings before posting each round or the final results. The later problem led to the K-8 results being reported incorrectly. We promise to improve and correct these issues at our next event!
3) Not enough volunteers. This was particularly problematic early in the day when everyone had questions. It became clear at the tournament that it was a communication and recruitment issue and not an unwillingness of people to help. Fortunately, we have time to correct these problems before March 26th. We will be seeking more help and if you would like to volunteer at this event, please send us an email at email@example.com. GCA is a volunteer run organization, and all our TD staff are paid a small stipend, but we mostly rely on volunteers on a non-paid basis to run our event effectively. If you have any experience being an ambassador, scorekeeper, or TD please contact us.
For schools that did not qualify for the 2022 K-8 State Team Championship, you may still have an opportunity to attend. 34 Schools qualified, with just over 45 teams. Capacity for the event is capped at 420 players, or about 70 teams. COVID 19, the short planning and execution of the event, and the fact that the event coincided with spring break for many schools contributed to many schools not qualifying for the 2022 K-8 State Team championship. For that reason, we have established a waiting list for teams to use in order to register on a first come, first serve basis to register their teams to be included in the event.
Teams will consist of 4 players (and up to 2 alternates) to play in sections K-1, K-3, K-5, or K-8 based upon the age and grade level of the students on the team (More details to be posted in the TLA). Each school can decide in which sections they wish to compete (no limit). Registration will be limited to 420 total players, the capacity of our host facility, representing all of Georgia. This is a rated tournament, so USCF membership is required. This is a rated tournament, so USCF membership is required. If you do not have a USCF membership (new members only, not renewals), you can purchase it at the time of registration for an additional $15 (or $20 to join or renew on the USCF website Become a Member | US Chess.org.). USCF membership is absolutely required to participate in this event.
As some schools will be disappointed by the 4 man teams, that not all their players will be able to play, we will have a booster section, where for an additional fee you may invite up to 4 additional alternates. Alternates can participate in the booster tournament that will compete in parallel for separate prizes. The booster section will also be a rated 4 man team tournament.
Cost is $175 per team and $125 for the 4 additional alternates should you wish to use them.
Please forward all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to seeing you all at the next event, and hope you will continue to support us by participating at our events!
With Warm Regards,
President, Georgia Chess Association
J. Parnell Watkins, Jr.
Mar 14, 2022, 12:58 PM (21 hours ago)
You, sir, are mistaken. I most definitely do not like bad news…
J Parnell Watkins, Jr.
Mar 14, 2022, 5:04 PM (17 hours ago)
My comment was tongue in cheek. I am poking fun at your reputation, not reality. I believe critical analysis is the first step in improving, and objective criticism a luxury, (if not always pleasant).
Mar 14, 2022, 9:52 PM (13 hours ago)
There is no good news or bad news; there is only news. As for the so-called “reputation”…in the immortal words of Margaret Mitchell, “Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was.”
It should be obvious that Mr. Watkins and I know each other only by reputation. I, therefore, reserve the right to judge this man on what he does as POTGCA, not on rumor and/or innuendo. From what you have read it is obvious this man is capable of self examination as a means to improve. This is a very good thing because there will be people queuing up to tell him how he should run the organization. Keep in mind Mr. Watkins ran unopposed for the office of POTGCA; no one else wanted the position. For whatever reason Mr. Watkins did want the thankless task of running the GCA. From my perspective of over half a century playing Chess in the Great state of Georgia the Chess community should be thankful someone wanted the position. I am here to tell you that Parnell Watkins will be judged by how much help he receives from those who volunteer. The POTGCA will be made, or broken, by the support, or lack thereof, he receives from the Chess community. The scholastic programs have increased exponentially and have taken over Chess, not only in Georgia but in just about every state in the Union. Scholastic Chess has become so HUGE that it has reached the point that a professional organization, such as Continental Chess for example, needs to be implemented for almost every state. The United States Chess Federation should lead the effort in this regard. Good luck with that… As for Georgia, what is needed are parents who will step forward and assist in organizing tournaments for the children. If you are reading this please forward it to others as a plaintive plea for unity and help from the thousands of parents who have children playing the Royal Game. (http://georgiachess.org/)
GCA Board Meeting
- When March 15, 2022
- 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM
- Location Online