RRSO III

30 April 2005
Norman, Oklahoma

Oklahoma
(At Home)
21.5
20.5

Texas
(On Road)
Bd
Player
Pre
Post
Score
Pre
Post
Player
Pre Post
Pre Post
01
2268
2275
1.5
0.5
2244
2237
2268
2275
2244
2237
02
2127
2114
0.0
2.0
2179
2192
2127
2114
2179
2192
03
1998
1997
1.0
1.0
1994
1993
1998
1997
1994
1993
04
1922
1932
1.5
0.5
1929
1919
1922
1932
1929
1919
05
1902
1903
1.0
1.0
1913
1912
1902
1903
1913
1912
06
1900
1879
0.0
2.0
1887
1908
1900
1879
1887
1908
07
1846
1831
0.5
1.5
1864
1873
1846
1831
1864
1873
08
1791
1818
2.0
0.0
1843
1818
1843
1818
1843
1818
09
1639
1622
0.0
2.0
1801
1814
1639
1622
1801
1814
10
1734
1762
2.0
0.0
1768
1742
1734
1762
1768
1742
11
1600
1624
1.5
0.5
1706
1685
1600
1624
1706
1685
12
1565
1591
1.5
0.5
1685
1663
1565
1591
1685
1663
13
1500
1500
0.0
2.0
1611
1631
1500
1500
1611
1631
14
1493
1504
1.0
1.0
1609
1600
1493
1504
1609
1600
15
1648
1644
1.0
1.0
1601
1605
1648
1644
1601
1605
16
1545
1525
0.5
1.5
1500
1521
1545
1525
1500
1521
17
1528
1511
1.0
1.0
1331
1351
1528
1511
1331
1351
18
1439
1455
2.0
0.0
1232
1212
1439
1455
1232
1212
19
1360
1345
1.0
1.0
1207
1225
1360
1345
1207
1225
20
1210
1250
2.0
0.0
1200
1160
1210
1250
1200
1160
21
1167
1149
0.5
1.5
1196
1213
1167
1149
1196
1213

RRSO III Photos

Only a few were Taken
(and we're still looking)

RRSO III Games

Click for RRSO III Games
Source:  Frank Kim Berry's OKIE Database

The RRSO III Story

By Victor Yaward
Chess Reporter

     Alex Relyea and Jim Hollingsworth talked often about how to make RRSO III the best ever.  Alex and his wife, Nita Patel, were both instructors at the University of Oklahoma.  Alex was certain he could coordinate the playing site and both he and Nita would free Jim from director responsibilities.  In his early years, Jim organized, directed and played simultaneously in many tournaments.  As he was getting older, Jim knew focusing on a good chess game was becoming more challenging with the additional duties.  Alex's plan and offer were quite excellent in Jim's mind.

     Tom Nichols, RRSO co-Founder, worked Saturdays and could not get off.  Frank Berry agreed to be the Oklahoma Chess Team Captain.  As Chief Organizer, Jim exchanged many emails with Frank.  Frank kept things close to the vest and didn't disclose his activities pulling a team together, beyond saying he was mentioning RRSO at some Oklahoma Chess Foundation (OCF) tournaments.  From experience, Jim knew a low Okie turnout like the previous two years would result in a Three-peat for Texas.  He figured Oklahoma would be lucky if they showed up with more than fifteen players.

     On the Texas side of the Red River, Tom Crane and Tom Kusnierz (the new Watauga Chess Club President) were busy building another Championship team.  Overconfidence is not the right word because they expected the Okies who showed would play as best they could.  However, most Texans were certain RRSO III's outcome would be the same as before.  It was only logical.

     There was no Facebook in those days.  However, in the months leading up to RRSO III Jim Hollingsworth was a daily contributor to the online Oklahoma Chess Forum.  His agenda was promoting the match by getting a rise out of his Okie counterparts.  Puns like, "How many Okies does it take to screw in a light bulb?" were widely responded to.  The polemic Bran Whitcomb parried those taunts with his own and added much to the discussions.  The Forum Moderator, Mike Crockett, aged ten years in three months while maintaining order and issuing a few time outs.  There was a sense more Okies would come to RRSO III, if only to shut Jim up and gloat if Oklahoma won.

     When Match Day arrived, there was a mass movement of fanatical chess players on Interstate 35 heading for Norman.  Some found nearby lodging the night before and arrived early.  Some carpooled or partied in "chess vans" driven by volunteers.  Some traveled alone.  All journeyed with the hope they would play their individual games well.  They would not be disappointed.

     Thanks to Alex Relyea and Nita Patel, the playing hall was already set up and looked magnificent.  A nearby room, almost as large as the tournament room, was available for skittles and post mortems.  At first the Texas players were shocked every OCF player seemed to be there.  This soon shifted to elation as it became clear both sides had 21 rated players.  There would be no side event.  Everyone would be playing someone on the other team in a match that counted.

     In a pre-match leaders huddle, Jim Berry suggested the home team should have white in the first round and reverse colors in the second.  There could be a situation where a player had an emergency or got sick and withdrew.  The players ranked below on the same team could shift up to avoid a forfeit and colors chaos.  All agreed.  To date this scenario has never happened.  However the RRSO colors tradition began at that moment.

     During pre-match announcements, Jim Hollingsworth (briefly) presented an appreciation plaque, in absentia, to Tom Nichols.  Jim and Frank Berry promised to present it at a future OCF tournament.  Frank Berry, Jim Berry, Tom Crane and others know Jim well and wisely insisted on a "brief" presentation.

     Round One was hard fought.  Oklahoma, playing all whites, had a commanding two-point (11-1/2 to 9-1/2) lead at halftime.  A Board One Texas loss with the Black side of the Sicilian, Labourdonnais-Loewenthal (Kalashnikov) variation (B32) was the big difference.  The Texans were concerned but not alarmed.  Under the match rules, Texas would retain its title and the trophy if there was a tie.  With all whites pieces at their disposal, it was only logical things looked promising for Texas going into the second round.

     But, Chess isn't always logical.  As their games ended, the players turned into spectators, checked out the active boards, then scurried off to the skittles room.  There they talked about the ongoing games, wondered if their teammates could see what they saw, and quietly returned to the tournament hall and get an update.  More kings started tipping over.  Texas was having a really hard time.  By the time only six boards remained, Jim Hollingsworth was thinking, "Come on, guys.  Tie this thing up and let's go home!"

     The tie wasn't happening.  Oklahoma maintained its one-point lead.  A Texas victory only meant an Oklahoma victory was happening on the next board.  And with only three boards left, Oklahoma suddenly took a two-point lead!  The mood for the Texans in skittles room was somber.  It was going to take a miracle.  Suddenly, 1-1/2 points were magically handled to the Texans and they could breathe a little easier.  Only one game remained to be finished and a full point would ensure the tie and match title.  The question every Texan's mind was, "Could that happen?"

     US Chess Original Life Master Nick Schoonmaker won the Florida State Chess Championship in 1989 and 1994.  And he won the Texas State Chess Championship in 2004.  He nursed the White side of a Gruenfeld, 4.Bf4 (D82) into a Queens ending with outside passed pawn advantage.  "Not many Texans and Okies thought Movses could a draw here ..." wrote Frank Berry later after examining the 36. Qxc3 position.

     "Movses" is no ordinary chess player.  Some who watched him at RRSO III might even say he isn't mortal.  US Chess Original Life Chess Master Movses Movsisyan won the Oklahoma State Chess Championship in 2004.  He went on to win two more State titles in 2005 and 2010.  He demolished his opponent's favorite line in Round One (Nick never played it since).  But, he was two pawns down (both outside and passed) against the top player south of the Red River.  He only needed an impossible draw.

     The room now had 22 spectators hovering like vultures around Board One.  With every deliberate move, one could hear absolute silence as if all had stopped breathing.  Then half the crowd would scurry into the skittles room to talk quietly about what they had seen.  "Wow!" was often heard.  "How can they see this stuff?"  Then they quietly returned and hovered until the next move.

     Back and forth.  Back and forth.  The two warriors battled back and forth.  It was a physics lesson worthy of Albert Einstein.  Irresistible Force meets Immovable Object.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.  Movses launched check after check after check.  He never gave up.  He never surrendered.  The impossible draw transformed into the possible

     After enduring 14 checks in the last 15 moves, Nick smiled, nodded his head and stuck out his hand.

     "Draw?"

     Tom Kusnierz was busy analyzing his game with his opponent.  So, Tom Crane made sure the Okies were not kept unnecessarily waiting.  He presented the famous Traveling Trophy to Frank Berry along with congratulations on behalf of all Texans.

     The annual "Victory Dinner" tradition with both teams present began that day.  Hideaway Pizza was at nearby Campus Corner and everyone headed there.  There was a lot of good food, laughter, new friendships, and old friends sharing stories.  Pretty and friendly waitresses caused some Texans to think about moving North.  Someone mentioned "I wish we had taken team photos.  Maybe next year."

     All good things must come to an end, even the Victory Dinner.  Everyone asked for their checks.  The waitresses smiled and brought them.  Each was marked:

     "Paid in full by Frank Berry."

     Life was good.

Oklahoma 21.5    Texas 20.5
Winning Team Captain Frank Berry (1-0)
Losing Team Captain Tom Kusnierz (0-1)