Losing My Sponsor Was A Good Thing!!!

GM KaydenTroff
Apr 6, 2010, 4:44 PM |
As it is coming close to the deadline for tax day (April 15) I thought everyone might be interested in part of my history.  It is not a very long history because I am only 11 (and a lot of those years I don't remember), but two years ago, John Hewitt flew my dad and I out to Virginia to meet with me to talk about him maybe sponsoring me for my chess.  I was 9 years old and already a 1700 USCF rated player. 
For those of you who don't know, here's some history on Mr. Hewitt from Wikipedia (if Batgirl can do it and can be the top blogger than why shouldn't I Smile):
Co-founder of Jackson Hewitt

That goal would materialize in 1982 in Hampton Roads, Virginia after Hewitt and other investors acquired the six offices of a local tax-preparation company, Mel Jackson Tax Service and launched the "Hewtax" interview program the first of its kind in the industry. Hewitt developed the software with his father Daniel. In 1988, the company changed its name to Jackson Hewitt. By 1986, IRS personnel also began seeing the advantages of computerized filings. That year the IRS tested the electronic filing process, allowing taxpayers to directly file their taxes and bypass the mailing of returns entirely. As a leader in using technology to facilitate tax filings, Jackson Hewitt benefited considerably. Also in 1986, Jackson Hewitt began offering franchises in the United States.

By 1992 Jackson Hewitt was one of the fastest growing private companies in the United States, according to Inc. Magazine, attaining a secure second-place ranking in its industry. The company became public in 1994, and was sold for $483 million in 1997, by which time it was operating 1,345 offices.

Liberty Tax Service

Having left Jackson Hewitt at the time of its acquisition, John Hewitt was contractually barred from competing with it until 2000 in most of the United States. However, he decided to launch a new company which would be the vehicle for yet further innovations, Liberty Tax Service. In order not to infringe the terms of the contract with the purchasers of Jackson Hewitt, the new company initially restricted its operations to Canada. Liberty Tax Service was launched there when Hewitt purchased a local tax company on September 1, 1997.

The new concern soon achieved a large measure of success; its more than 3,000 offices in North America as of 2009 make it the fastest-growing major tax-preparation company in history, and put it on pace to eventually equate or overtake its older competitors. Liberty Tax Service is best known for the costumed "wavers" dressed as the Statue of Liberty used in front of the offices across the country.

Liberty Tax Service is perennially ranked in the Entrepreneur magazine ranking of the country's most successful franchises, appearing in third place in 2009.


So you can see that this guy has some bucks and my dad was excited for the chance to be flown out to Virginia to meet with him about sponsoring me (I probably would have been really excited too if I actually knew the significance of what was going on.  I was just excited to go on a trip with my dad).  So for any of you that wonder why I would need a sponsor go to this link http://kaydendonationfaq.blogspot.com/.  This tells about my expenses for this year (Chess can be very expensive!!).  By the way, anyone want to buy a chocolate sucker?  Oh... wait... we sold the rest of them this week.  Thanks to the employees at Zion's Bank for buying them (my dad works at Zion's Bank) - I got an additional $140.00 from my chocolate suckers.  Well two years ago, chess didn't cost that much because I could still stay close to home and play in tournaments, but now I have to travel around the country and even the world (I am going to Greece for the World Youth Championships!  See http://kaydentroff.blogspot.com/ for some other things I am doing and stuff I have done) for opportunities to improve my rating.

I would guess that it cost a lot to fly both me and my dad to Virginia, set us up in a really nice hotel room, and get us a rental car.  Mr. Hewitt had his secretary take us to the Virginia Beach Aquarium for the afternoon and we walked on the beach for awhile and then got a nice lunch of sandwich wraps and fruit smoothies.  Everything was paid for by Mr. Hewitt.  We were introduced to people around his company, finished our lunch and then the moment of truth came when I was brought into Mr. Hewitt's office and I got to play against him in a game of chess.  He explained to us that he was a high rated chess player back in college, but he had switched to Bridge because it was a much more social sport than chess (now I personally think chess is a sport, but that is another subject all together).  And that he was some kind of top Bridge player.  I didn't understand it but it sounded like he was a Bridge Grandmaster or something like that.  We played to a drawish position in our chess game (I thought I might have been a little bit better but I could be wrong-I was 9 after all) and he didn't seem very impressed, but he was nice.  We didn't finish our game and we were sent away and went back to our hotel, but Mr. Hewitt told us to meet him at the Ruth Chris Steakhouse later that evening.

We arrived at Ruth Chris Steakhouse and Mr. Hewitt had his top manager with him.  We had a really good dinner of steak and lobster.  The lobster was good (it was even better than the steak)!  And it was huge!!!   Mr. Hewitt asked all kinds of questions about our family and he showed me one of his online chess games and asked what I thought.  I was only 9 years old and much less talkative than I am now (at least some people could argue that I am better).  I was pretty shy especially with someone I didn't really know, but we thought everything went pretty good and my dad was very excited when it was all over because he was sure that we would have a sponsor now and this would help my parents get me around the country to some of the National Scholastic tournaments.  I don't really remember most of the questions that I answered but I told Mr. Hewitt that I was going to become a Grandmaster and then a Super GM and maybe even the World Champion.  But right now my goal was to get to Grand master and then see what happens from there.

We flew home and waited, and waited.  Two weeks passed, and then a month.  I had some things that they had given me from Liberty Tax that I put around my room and I was pretty excited though I didn't really know what it was all about (I just knew my parents were excited).  Dad emailed and called, but the answers we got back didn't really say much.  After two months, we finally got a clue that nothing was going to happen and we better start looking for other options.

So, why do I say that it was a good thing to lose my sponsor? At the time I was really stuck at 1700.  I guess all chess players experience this, but it's really annoying when it happens.  Between losing my sponsor and being stuck I didn't know if one was causing the other or vice versa.  I had been using a Grandmaster teacher for the 6 months before and it was costing my parents $75.00 an hour.  Shouldn't I be getting better!?!?! Without the sponsor, we pondered, we prayed, and then we did some really crazy things.  First of all, we stopped taking lessons from the Grandmaster teacher (I told you it was crazy).  My dad started spending 10-15 hours a week studying and working with me.  It was fun!!!  He would make sure that I did my chess homework and he made fun chess bingo games with different tactics on it which I could get from my chess games during the day to get a bingo and go out for ice cream or get money (not real money, just credit) to go to a future tournament.  I started to improve almost immediately.  I took 2nd in the National Elementary tournament for my grade.  My Quick rating started rocketing up and a year later I was the #1 Quick Chess player under age 13 in the country (which I've now been for almost a year--check it out here: http://main.uschess.org/component/option,com_top_players/Itemid,371?op=list&month=1004&f=13Q&h=Top%20Quick%20Under%20Age%2013.  I beat GM-elect Alex Lenderman twice in rated Quick Chess games.  And I have been the #1 player for my age in the United States including right now: http://main.uschess.org/component/option,com_top_players/Itemid,371?op=list&month=1004&f=11&h=Top%20Age%2011 .   And my FIDE rating has been the #1 rated player for my age in the world and I won the Gold Medal and became the North American Youth U12 Champion in Mazatlan, Mexico last October.  

After I attended the US Chess School in New York last summer http://www.uschessschool.com/ , my dad said that it was finally time to get a Grandmaster teacher again now that I had reached Expert and was working on National Master which I became last year.  Now we look back and think what a good thing it was that Mr. Hewitt didn't give us what we wanted at the time.  If we had gotten a sponsor and money to pay for my Grandmaster teacher then I don't think that I would have the National Master title now.  I would have travelled and played in cool tournaments but I wouldn't have improved like I did.  Who knows, maybe I would still be stuck somewhere around 1700.  Even though it seemed really bad at the time, Mr. Hewitt actually did me a favor.

Now, however, is a different story.  We could sure use Mr. Hewitt now.  I have a lot of great opportunites ahead of me.  Having the chance to play in the World Youth Championship in Greece is something I really want to be able to do and I think it will be awesome to represent America and get to see another country (this has yet to be announced on the USCF website next month, but we know that I will be the top qualifying player for the U12 section). So, if anyone knows of a millionaire or billionaire that wants to help an aspiring Grandmaster I'm sure that we are prepared for that sponsorship now!  I do want to thank everyone that is sacrificing and helping me, because I don't want to make it seem like we have no help at all.  There are many wonderful people that are helping me travel around the country and the world!!

Chess Problem time! Here is the answer to my last Chess Problem:

The next one is one that IM Jacek Stopa gave me: