With the kids that got off to the bad start I make it a point to find something positive in their game no matter how ugly it had been. Sometimes they just feel so bad, especially when the other kids are winning and they're not. I also make sure at the end of my analysis session with the kid to remind him or her what the lesson was that he or she should take from that game. Sometimes it was as simple as when a piece is attacked by a pawn to move the piece. The first few rounds I kept having to remind them that guarding a piece attacked by a pawn is not enough.
Sometimes as a teacher I have to be careful exactly how I explain something, because kids take things so literally. A few weeks ago in class I was talking about a few different things including etiquette. We also were talking about stalemate. During the etiquette discussion I said it’s not a nice thing to keep promoting pawns to queens when one has an easy mate with what’s already on the board. I told them about the obnoxious kid who made 4 queens and was about to make a fifth, when I told him to stop showing up his opponent. I also said that making too many queens could lead to stalemate if the opponent has nothing but a king.
One of my players reached this position and promoted to a rook.
When I asked him why he didn’t promote to another queen, he said “You told us it wasn’t good to take another queen.” I had to explain that wasn’t what I meant. Especially since promoting to queen in that position was mate on the move. It would not have been a big deal, except that he kept missing easy mates in one or two with the rooks and queen and ended out drawing. I suggested to his parents to get him a checkmate workbook so that he could practice queen and rook checkmates and begin to recognize the patterns. Is this a future Knight Errant? (Note: I wrote this before reading the heated discussion regarding the Knight's Errant on Elizabth Vicary's blog. For the record, I think for kids that type of exercise is useful.)
The Parents & Friends tournament was on Saturday, but with a group this size I don’t have time to play in it. By the time the first round started at 10:30, I had over half my players done their 9:00 AM round. Despite my pleas to slow down any game that took over an hour and half was considered long. Our local scholastic tournaments have a time limit of game/45 so game/120 is just beyond their comprehension. It doesn’t matter how I explain how much time 4 hours is they just don’t get it. In one round, one of my players comes back in about a half hour. He tells me he played so fast because his opponent had a clock and wanted to play with it. For some reason the mere presence of a clock makes a lot of inexperienced players think they need to play fast. Part of that may be because when they use a clock at chess club they play 15 minute chess. The other reason is they get a clock put on their game late in a round. In the local tournaments any games without a clock going gets a clock put on with 10 minutes for each when there’s 25 minutes before the next round is scheduled.
I was perfectly happy I wasn’t playing in the event since they held it in the skittles room. There were kids running around playing ball, and some teams were using that area in lieu of a team room. The noise would have made me crazy. One of the New York parents I know was using his iPod to block the noise. I’ve never seen him use an iPod when we’ve played in New York. Also given my track record in the event I didn’t feel like tossing a chunk of the 53 rating points I gained on Tuesday.
His "footwriting" is neater then some high school kids' handwriting that I've seen.
I got to speak to him briefly afterwards. I wanted to make sure he wouldn't mind my posting some of the pictures. He's very a very easy going kid. I wish I had more time to ask him how he got involved in chess. It seems like all of his family plays or directs scholastic tournaments in Texas. I had to check on my team, and I think he was anxious to see how his kid brother was doing.