Almost all of Riley’s team is from
But most interesting was a man who I noticed and had the thought, “This guy must be a chief in the tribe of chess.” He looked distinguished, with a button-up shirt, buttoned all the way up. And he wore the most interesting, round, thick-rimmed glasses that seemed to be made out of wood. I’ve never seen any quite like it. I quickly gathered that he was a coach, as he would go out between games and sit with a student with just a few pieces on the board and have them do a focused practice. Later, I watched as students after each game would come up to him and say, “I won.” “I won.” “I won.” …. “I won.” “I won.” “I lost.” I won.” I heard almost all, “I won.”
It seemed almost like a ceremony. No high-fives, no fist-bumps, no “way to go tiger”. He would just take out his book and record the result. When they were sad at losing (which was pretty rare), he would just say a few sentences calmly, and then they would walk away.
Later in the day, I got close enough to hear him talk to them, and realized that he was either Polish or Russian. They called him Mr. K. I asked him how I should encourage Riley. As I came away from the day, I was again reminded how much I love to see people brought together in the search for excellence.