The worst day in a chess tournament

Last Saturday, Abe had the worst performance in any chess tournaments—lost all four rounds, scored zero point in the end.

Before the tournament, he said to me, as usual, “I do not want to go. Do we have to go?”

We did not have other engagements on the Saturday. He might just fool around— watching TV and playing video games—to pass the day if not going to the chess tournament. “Yes,” I replied.

His first opponent was rated closed to 1900, about 200 points higher rated than Abe. In addition, Abe’s playing black with a slight disadvantage. I thought he would lose his game, which was confirmed later: Upon seeing me at the skittles room, Abe said, “I lost.”

Abe’s playing white in the second round, his opponent are a little higher rated than him; I thought Abe might have a chance. In deed, Abe had chances in his game, but he missed the opponent’s attack (count-attack?), he lost again.

After the loss, Abe asked me: “Can I withdraw from the tournament? I do not want to play any more.”

I knew he didn’t want to lose again; I told him that he would learn more in defeat than in victory, “Remember winning by losing?” I asked. “Although you have to lose at first, you will win later by learning from the losses.”

I was surprised to find out that Abe was playing white again in round 3, however, he lost anyway. Abe was quite upset after that loss; He insisted again to exit the final round. I told him, “We have even number of players in your section now, if you do not play, some one else will lose the chance to play too.” And with some of his friends’ encouragements, he reluctantly agreed to play the final round, unfortunately, he lost again.

On the way home, Abe was not that upset any more. “How did I lose all my games?” he said to himself. He might think it was unbelievable. I quickly told him it was OK. In the meantime, I thought to my self:

Maybe last night, Abe did not have a good sleep. Maybe he, in inferior conditions, failed to take time to think a counter attack. Maybe he was too inclined to trade pieces with opponents, while failing to take time to check it’s good or bad. Maybe…

I had no confidence with any above guesses. One thing, however, became clearer to me as I thought: Abe should continue to play against the strong opponents.

If you or your kids have a very bad chess tournament, what should you do then?

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3 Comments to “The worst day in a chess tournament”

  1. By someone, May 20, 2010 @ 8:51 am

    Looks like your kid played against stronger opponents, so the null result does not seem completely unlikely. In other words, rather than looking for excuses (“maybe he did not have a good sleep”) maybe better to accept the result for what it is. A performance slightly below the statistically expected results, even if the expected was a low number.

    In my opinion, more than “explaining the result”, it’s important to understand how much your kid actually likes to play chess… if he likes only when he’s winning, or if he’s let down by a bad result, then maybe chess the right pastime for him.

  2. By ppmint, May 21, 2010 @ 10:09 am

    It’s easy to love chess when you’re winning every single game. The real challenge (about anything) is the part where you have to stay motivated and positive while losing.

    Abe might need to revamp his thought process and eradicate bad habits from his’s play. He might need to study his endgame more deeply. For a 1600+ player, opening knowledge is also getting critical. You’re right about learning from losses – today’s curse might be tomorrow’s blessing. However, the most important thing is loving chess for its entirety, win or lose.

    Because when they grow up, no one can “make” them play chess unless they really love the game from the bottom of their hearts.

    Kids usually got over their losses much quicker than us parents. Maybe it’s best to let Abe reflect on his losses and move on?

  3. By TheChessDad, May 21, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

    He has good luck some day and bad luck some day. I think this is normal, especially for kids.

    One of the reasons I ask Abe to play with strong opponents, aside from being good for his chess improvement, is he can get over his losses quickly (I mean after the tournaments, not during).

    Thank you for all the suggestions.
    I hope that Abe’s interest in chess will grow along with him.
    He is studying some endgame books.
    I am nor sure his opening knowledge. He had a coupe of losses because he messed up in openings, but not many yet.

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