Aug
2
2014

Summer is almost gone

David at the school’s Music show before the summer vacation.

Comparing when he attended his brother’s show almost four and a half years ago (video:

), you can feel kids grow fast if not our parents get old fast. David also played soccer from the park district, it’s his first year.

David took many swimming lessons this summer, he’s still a beginner but he could swim a longer distance than I did.

Abe went to a soccer camp last month, he went to a soccer tournament (2014 US Youth Soccer ODP Region II Showcase) the following Monday. The bad news was he hurt his right knee because he crashed with somebody in the camp, bending the knee such as climbing stairs would bring sharp pain to the knee when he came back from the camp, he said he was all right two days later, he played a little soccer with friends while watching the World Cup final. The next day we went to the tournament, he performed very well in the first half of the first game, than the knee began to bother him again, so he had to sit out most of the rest games.

The good news was the injury seemed not too bad, it only took days after the tournament until he felt all fine again. By the way, he went to the tournament because he made the ODP State team by went through a series of practices, tournament and state combine.

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Apr
7
2014

Abe is OK after the Spring Break

In a time span of eight days or Spring Break (From 3/29 to 4/6), Abe played nine games (eight games in two soccer tournaments and a regular league game).  Out of the nine, he played most of time in one game and all time in eight full 70-minute games (although it was mentioned somewhere 35-minute halves, the exact times are all longer that. Once I even timed a 47 minutes half ). I was nervous in the last three games. ” Was his body be OK? What if an injury?” He complained his pain at bottoms of his feet and sides of his big toes. Luckly he did not complain the back side of ankle, which I worried the most ( I think pain in ankles or knees brings the loudest alarm). On the other hand, his teammates and coach, or even the parents of his teammate would like him to play. I told Abe if he wanted, he could inform the coach he played a lot of soccer in the past week and asked for replacement. It turned out Abe kept playing to the end of the tournament. As for me, I could only make sure he get healthy foods (a challenge sometime) during the tournament and pray him not to get injured. I think it helped that Abe’s mother and his brother all came along to the tournament. Encouragements here and there, a little massage, a little fighting/disputes between brothers kept Abe going.

At a soccer tournament

At a soccer tournament

Make the matter worse, the hotel we stay on 4/5 was terrible, there was a false smoke alarm in the nights to wake him up. No sound insulation between hotel room, TV, music, chatter and baby’s crying was too loud for Abe to fall back to sleep again. He got up to search his earphones and his ipod after “one and half hour’s sleeplessness” (he exclaimed and must exaggerated the length of that time).

The following is a clip of his game on 4/5/14, he played defense:

 

Abe looked OK  and he went back to school today. What a Spring Break!

 

 

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Oct
17
2013

A tournament away

We were on road again, this time, it’s St. Louis. The whole family went together.  Abe had a soccer tournament there. His team played first two on turf fields. the last on on grass. Since part of facility was also used for college and professional soccer, fields were flat and big (bigger than the ones which we used to play on). As shown in the following video, the facility looked very impressive.

Although it’s a long drive there. I would guess that Abe had a good time. Great facility, quality competitions, comfortable hotel stay and the traffic in St. Louis was not bad at all.

Here is the highlights of Abe in the three games, he wore number 22, and played defense:

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Sep
24
2013

Some updates

A lot of things happened in the past several months. For the first time, David went to a chess tournament (unrated). He was happy going there, got a big trophy, happily taking pictures with it. Here is one if those pictures:

David and his trophy from a chess tournament

David and his trophy from a chess tournament

Abe is still playing soccer, he is doing a good job. He had a lot of games and practices, since he likes it, he never complaint. Here is one picture at a game at the beginning of summer:

Abe at a soccer game

Abe at a soccer game

During the summer, he played basketball, he is not tall in his basketball team. In fact, one of the shortest. But still he was good at defense. Got some steals and boards. Sometimes, I was surprised seeing him getting the rebounding, for example, the one below:

ABE REBOUND_1

ABE REBOUND_1

ABE REBOUND_2

ABE REBOUND_2

ABE REBOUND_3

ABE REBOUND_3

ABE REBOUND_4

ABE REBOUND_4

ABE REBOUND_5

ABE REBOUND_5

ABE REBOUND_6

ABE REBOUND_6

ABE REBOUND_7

ABE REBOUND_7

In his new soccer team, he has been playing defense so far. Although he was also good at offense before, I believe the coach thinking him to be better fit to play defense in this team. Below is a short video showing  minutes before the half time in a game recently, in that tournament, his team won the championship:

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Jan
25
2013

Is “Doing Less” the most wanted from middle school children for parents?

Abe is in junior high. He has quite a routine schedule and he is quite occupied. He is spending more time on his homework, has many meetings and practices on Science Olympiad. About Science Olympiad, he is doing three projects this year, two last year on the JV team. I helped him quite a bit on his projects last year, however, this year, I did nothing on them. I am thinking he will learn more if he can finish by himself. In addition, he has teachers, coaches and his teammates to rely on.  Of course, I did some duties for parents such as volunteering at some of his meetings. I told Abe “If you need help from me, just ask”. But since he never asked, I think he is doing OK.  Last weekend, from one Invitational tournament, he got two fist place medals and failed his third experiment. His team will take part in another tournament in less than two weeks. So this week, he spent quite some time trying to fix it and he said the new one was much better that the old one.  I am glad that he learned some about how to solve a problem and some about responsibility.

About his travel soccer, it’s indoor season now, he has less practices per week than the fall season. My job is mainly driving him to practices and games. I would not give much advices and feedback for his games. I know he needs to learn his own way. But I do give some advices on his excises, such as some exercises to avoid injuries.

I believe “Doing Less” is the most important parenting principle for a middle school student. Although many parents could disagree and I too cannot stick to my principle perfectly. For example: asking Abe to go to sleep on time and waking him up in time and then driving him to the school.

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Nov
16
2012

Some soccer game highlights

The outdoor fall season’s over. I put some highlights of the  soccer games Abe played in past two months. One is for the U12 team, to which Abe belongs. One is for U13 games, which Abe also participate from time to time.

 

The indoor soccer season is about to begin. Abe is looking forward to it.

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Nov
7
2012

Abe’s first JV soccer game in 2012

Abe played on Junior Varsity soccer team again this fall. Sometimes he would play for the Varsity team too if that team was short of players. The following highlight shows his first JV game about two months ago. I did not post this early because I thought I did not recorder any soccer games of the school teams until I found this yesterday.

Later I will post some highlights of his soccer games of this fall from his travel team.

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Sep
21
2012

Afterschool Chess for David

David went to Kindergarten this fall. He was so excited to be able to attend a school for bigger kids. This is a school his brother had been to, he also had been there before when his brother had some music performances such as this one I mentioned about two years ago.

There is some school chess after-school program which is like 50 minutes per week. I registered him for the class since he liked chess and knew a little already by learning from his brother. He was very happy with it. He was always proud to show some pieces he got from his teacher as prizes for good play after each class.

New Knight and Queen

New Knight and Queen

 

 

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Aug
6
2012

Get ready for the travel soccer season

I asked Abe playing in quite a few chess tournaments this summer. The reason is a long story: He always excuses not to work hard (for example, doing puzzles) because he does not like it (or like it enough). One day he said he liked soccer. “Well, let him playing soccer, see if he would like to put efforts into it.” With this idea, I let him go to tryouts for one travel team, he passed the tryout and will start the soccer season this fall. I heard that he would have three practices and one game each week. so his chess playing chances after the summer is very limited. He said he would play online to compensate this. I am doubtful. Even he plays, I do not want him playing mainly blitz, in which many people indulge. I want him, if possible, playing slow games. So he went to quite a few tournaments in summer.

In the soccer tryouts in late spring, I did not notice Abe looking bad at all comparing to other kids. He  has played for recreational soccer (AYSO) for many seasons. He has a good feel of the game and has a good soccer instinct. However, since Abe didn’t plays travel soccer before. He should be weak in some tactics. I registered him for several soccer camps this summer for him to see and fix his weaknesses and to grow up his confidence.

The following two showed his finishing after receiving a crossing from a teammate in one scrimmage.

receiving a crossing

receiving a crossing

finishing, maybe wrong tactics, but ball went in

finishing, maybe wrong tactics, but ball went in

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Jun
21
2012

A good summer

What a good summer vacation looks alike? How about this: Each day, first turning on the computer, checking and following the chess games on ICC, then a couple of soccer games(Euro 2012), then the NBA playoff at the end of day. That is one typical day for Abe. No wonder he was quite satisfied with the summer so far. And he also played some soccer, tennis and basketball, went to the pool a lot, watched a Fire game in the stadium (the seating is very close to the field since the stadium has no running tracks).

Below is highlights of one soccer game played  in the beginning of the summer. On that afternoon, Abe and his teammates also played five other games. Three hours of soccer. What a fest!

 

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May
30
2012

Checkmated

David, Abe’s little brother, likes to play chess from time to time. Some time he plays against computers, or against Mommy or me. He likes to set the computer to the easiest level, and we are easy enough to be worthy opponents for him to have some fun.  Abe teaches him a little bit of chess moves but Abe is too strong for David.  Every time the two brothers play on chess or any other games, after a little while, I will hear David’s cry “Mommy— Abe didn’t go easy on me.”

Some days ago, while playing chess on iPad, he asked “If I keep playing chess, one day I’ll beat Abe?”

Before anyone could reply. “Never,” Abe hurried.

Two days ago, David went to Chicago Open since Abe played in the tournament. He was quite excited in the skittle room. He likes to see other kids to play chess. Other bigger kids are kind enough to play with him.

“David said every time he played, other people would checkmate him” I was told later when I came back at evening to wait for Abe’s game.

Mommy told David many times “It’s time to go home”.

“No.” David’s looking for another game after getting checkmated all the time.

 

David is playing chess in the skittles room of Chicago Open

David is playing chess in the skittles room of Chicago Open

 

 

 

 

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Apr
30
2012

A good game

It was cool, or a little cold, but I thought it was a nice day for playing soccer during last week’s game. Upon leaving, someone greeted us and said Abe was on fire. Abe tried hard in the field and running everywhere no matter it’s offense or defense and he was good at passing to teammates too.

A good soccer game

A good soccer game

Unfortunately, Abe’s team lost. But a good game nevertheless as claimed by the team coach. Every one tried hard to fight back  but fell one goal short. The game’s close and exciting by watching from the sideline.

Yesterday, Abe played another team under the same nice cool weather. He and his teammates had a much easier time.

Dance or not

Dance or not

Abe and his little brother sometimes play video game of soccer, maybe the video game helped them to be a little better at soccer?

I registered Abe to learn playing tennis from the park district. He opposed to it strongly since he’d never been coached, his play “sucks” and he “will not go” to the session. I told him the session’s for beginners and included only several lessons, “after you try and if you still do not like it. We can forget it and move on.” I prepared that if Abe would ask me why I ask him to learn tennis, I would answer that playing more than one sports make you less likely get injured. Anyway, he did not ask. But he asked if I already paid the fee, of course I did upon registration.

After last week’s first session, he said he actually good at tennis, he did not mention quitting anymore.

By the way, last week, without being asked,  he started playing chess on board with himself again. Something he had not done since he began Junior High last year.

 

 

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Apr
2
2012

Spring

Spring’s here. It’s the time for the kids to go out to play something. It does not matter it is riding bike or playing soccer, or playing some chess games.

It's Spring

It's Spring

This was the picture I took at the hallway of the first floor of the tournament Abe played one week ago. It brought me a good mood. I went upstairs. Looking through the window, I saw he’s one of last boards playing. “A job well done, Abe”, I told myself — I am always glad if he’s one of last. The earlier he steps out the playing room, the worse he plays, often loses without a fight.

Abe's still playing

Abe's still playing

Last weekend, Abe played the Barber Qualifier.  He must did OK, yesterday Mommy asked him “How is the tournament?”

He replied something like “A successful learning process.”

“Successful? No!” I thought, “learning process, I hope Abe’s sincere this time.”

Right after the tournament games, a bliz was played just outside the touranament room

Right after the tournament games, a bliz was played just outside the tournament room

 

 

 

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Mar
14
2012

RIP Isaac

I was shocked to hear the passing of Isaac Braswell , whom we met many times at Evanston Chess tournaments. He was always very funny, brought laugh to every one around him. He was nice to everyone,with respect, with no single bad word,  it makes you warm in heart. Abe was somewhat shy in the tournaments, maybe he was too junior to speaks with adults. But Issac sometimes joked with him. Issac makes the tournament less stressful, a day in chess tournament a nice day passed.

About three weeks ago, we went to USAT north, which was one of last tournaments Issac played. At the skittles room, I remembered Issac greeted us. Maybe Issac did not remember Abe’s or mine names. But he recognized us as members of the chess community.

I think as long as you play chess with others (or as a spectator), you are a member of the chess community. No matter you are young or old, shy or active, you are cared by others, even you do not realize it.

Issac, we miss you. RIP

 

PS:  Want more on Issac’s story? check out  A Love supreme.

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Feb
21
2012

US Amateur Team North 2012

Last weekend, Abe and I went to USAT held at the same venue as last year. Since we went to the same tournament last year, it’s only a short drive to get there, Abe did not have any objections to it (he prefers tournaments close by and on the weekends when he has no school activities).

US Amateur Team North 2012

US Amateur Team North 2012

Comparing to team events to individual events, playing in team events is more fun since the player also pays attention to what the teammates are doing.  The players get addition motivations or encouragements within the team. I felt this year’s event is even better than last years. The tournament’s run flawlessly. More team, more strong players and more fun.

Abe did OK in the tournament and he had fun, which is most important. Hey, I guess there should be more team events like this one in order to attract more people to play chess. Do you agree?

 

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Jan
19
2012

Michael Jordan and his high school coach

Recently, I read a moving article from Sports Illustrated about Michael Jordan’s  high school coach (“Did This Man Really Cut Michael Jordan?“), coach Herring. It’s he who placed Michael on the Junior Varsity team when Michael’s a sophomore and  too short to make the Varsity team.  But Michael made the Varsity team the following year and coach Herring picked him up every day at six o’clock and took him to the gym to help him work on his abilities.

What a poor old coach considering Coach Herring’s, for close to 30 years, unemployed/unemployable  and even found himself homeless at sometime. Sad but true,being a former high school coach of a later superstar. You may not be able to enjoy any financial rewards or even a proper recognition besides being thanked and remembered for your passion to the game and your sacrifices.

I like the following sentences, are they irony or a metaphor?

If life is a cycle of giving and receiving, of storing up goodwill in the hearts of those around you, of doing kindness for the sake of kindness but also for yourself, for your reserved fund, in case one day you need to make a withdrawal, when you’re old or sick or poor or maybe all three, then for the first 31 years of his life Pop Herring built about as much wealth as a man could. And then he lost most of his earning capacity, almost overnight, and what he had left were those investments is that they usually come with risk. Your never know which ones will pay off. You can put in and put in and put in, and you still might get nothing back.

But you should know, still keep “investing”, even your kids are now not good enough to be placed on school varsity team, as Michael Jordan did when he’s a sophomore in high school.

 

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Dec
7
2011

Why did I found Reapot (www.reapot.com)

I copied my story from the company website (www.reapot.com):

Back in January 2011, our founder, Zeke, went to a chess tournament in Chicago. There was a book vendor there selling chess books and other chess equipments to people at the tournament.  While Zeke was browsing chess books, a guy came in and asked the vendor,

“Do you accept used chess books? I have a lot at home.”

“No, I just sell new chess books except a couple in Like New condition.” The seller replied.

Overhearing the conversation, Zeke thought to himself: “That guy must want to sell his used chess book to the vendor instead of letting those chess book sitting in some book shelves collecting dusts.”

“I have spent hundreds of dollars buying chess book last year alone. Like many other chess players, we love to collect chess books. In fact, however, some books had been read only once, many are not finished. On the other hand, chess books are expansive; it would be a shame to waste the chess books collecting dusts,” Zeke continued with his thought. “It would be a good idea if I can supply a platform so that more people can read chess books and put his/her used chess book in good use.”

So Reapot Inc. was founded —based on that idea.

The mission of Reapot is:

Reapot.com is an online chess book rental store. As customers, no matter you are chess players, chess parents, chess educators, chess organizers or just hobbyists in chess, you can rent all chess books you want from Reapot.com. We hope we can help to nurture your passion and fulfill your goal in life by supplying an affordable, convenient and innovative service.

“Rent all the chess books you want! And receive free months by buying or donating chess books.” is acclaimed on Reapot website. After you join as a member (not as a free guest), you can rent as many chess books as you want (although there is a limit on how many books you can rent each time, there is no limit on how many times you can rent). You can buy the books you rented and/or donate your own chess books to receive free months.

Please check Reapot (www.reapot.com) out, even you don’t want to rent books right now, you can still build your wish list of favorite chess books with a free guest account . Please let me know if you agree with the ideal and practice of Reapot.

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Dec
1
2011

CCSCSL Thanksgiving Open

Several friends have told me how great the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis was and I should visit it with Abe sometime. Weeks ago, knowing Thanksgiving Open would be held over the Thanksgiving weekend there, without hesitation, I registered Abe for the tournament. I am excited to go see the club except one concern: it does not have free parking. (There is free street parking nearby, but my parallel parking skill is poor. In addition, what if all street parking is full?)

It turned out that CCCSL is indeed great:  it is well lighted, comfortable, and with lots of fresh air.  Look at the following picture showing one play room upstairs: the solid wood table, the wood pieces and the chair. I bet you would love to play a game or two here if you know a little about chess. What else can you ask for a chess club? Besides, there are seven grandmasters playing in this tournament. As a participant, you may not play with any of them, but at least you can watch them playing if you want.  I‘d say, for chess players, it is a dream to play in the tournament here.

One chess play room upstairs of CCCSL

One chess play room upstairs of CCCSL

I also went to the Chess Hall of Fame across street of the chess club during the tournament. I was surprised to see many exciting chess sets such as the one shown below.

One chess set in the World Chess Hall of Fame

One chess set in the World Chess Hall of Fame

Abe’s little brother had a game with Mommy in the skittles room downstairs while Abe is waiting for his next round.

Abe’s little brother had a game with Mommy in the skittles room

Abe’s little brother had a game with Mommy in the skittles room

I had no trouble to find free parking at a nearby (one block away) street. There’s enough space so that parallel parking’s not required since I did not mind parking a little far away.

I have been back from the trip for several days. I felt the Saint Louis trip more worthwhile as time goes by. It does not matter how you did at the tournament. You are glad you played the royal game at a cool chess playing facility, not at a stale room of some hotel.

On the way back, Abe said the trip was not worthwhile. I suspected he thought he did not have a good tournament, he had some homework waiting for him and the trip was a long drive. But I’d guess he will change his mind later.

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Nov
18
2011

A Chess Dad’s view on keeping chess teenagers to chess

I have heard or seen many teenagers who quit chess when they are in middle or high schools.  These promising young chess players stop their chess improvements at early ages, which are usually best time for people to achieve their full talents in chess. On the other hand, in middle or high schools, there are so many school work or after school activities waiting for kids. Everything is time consuming. Most kids picked up chess when they were in elementary school or earlier, there’s little or no homework and school’s easy too, they had all the time they’d like to put on chess. Now, suddenly, the kids have no enough time to spend on chess practicing and playing.  By and by, the big kids may lose interest in chess (because of less practicing, less playing and less improvement in chess) and start to pursue something more popular. Usually this new interest needs total commitment, kids and parents may have to spend all their time and energy on it and quit chess along the way.

To make the chess more competitive among all choices teenagers may face, I would think the following improvements are needed, so chess teenagers still keep an interest on chess and keep playing in chess tournaments:

  • Emphasize Change. It will attract more younger kids to play chess when educators or parents know that chess is beneficial to the development of intelligent, chess can help the kid’s performance in school and beyond. Now for bigger kids, this emphasize may not work anymore, on one hand, they are already very smart in school and do not new incentive to be any smarter, on the other, there are many popular activities to choose. So I think the new emphasize should be “chess is a royal game”. Many people like it because they are up to the challenge.
  • Since “chess is a royal game”, chess scene should be clean and fair. People with more love and put more work in chess should be able to achieve more success or recognition among chess community.
  • Since “chess is a royal game”, many, if not most, people should hold chess in high regard. There should be a large fan base to follow chess.
  • More colleges – hopefully, large or small, public or private, could supply chess scholarships or some kind of rewards for chess achievements at the admission process. So kids and parents can have additional incentive for continuing involvement in chess in high school.
  • More sponsors to chess professionals. These chess professionals could put more time on chess, less time to worry their lives.

How do you think?

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Nov
7
2011

Found it!

Yesterday, waiting outside the chess playing hall at a chess tournament, I looked outside of the window and thought: “Fall was not bad and it’s a nice day outside”. When Abe showed up after finishing his game, I asked him, “Did you see any birds outside?” I asked him this question because I missed their existences just out of the window until a minute ago.

“Where?” It seemed Abe did not see any birds on his first try.

“Over there,”

“…Oh, I found it.”

See if you can find any birds outside?
See if you can find any birds outside?

 

“Just like chess, if you try and try, you may find something (you are looking for).”

By the way, Abe had a lucky day— he scored 3.5 points out of 4.

Today, I asked him what he did differently in that lucky tournament.

“I thought more,” Abe replied.

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