Oct
26
2011

A bad tournament

Last Saturday, Abe had a bad tournament; he scored 1.5 points out 4. On the way to home, he said his face was so red (so he could not think calmly). I replied “Maybe you are over-excited (to rush)”.

He had so many school activities this year. Every day, before dinner, he just got home and had no much free time; after dinner, he would do his homework for an hour or more. If he had some time to spare on chess studying before going to bed, I felt I was lucky to ask him.

Maybe there is always time to spare on chess if he looks for it — only if he likes it. Right now, once he finishes his homework, before putting the folder and books aside, he’ll turn on TV and play video games on it. Since according to him, playing video games is a type of relaxation he likes, studying chess is a type of work he’d rather avoid doing, it is reasonable to have some relaxation after doing home work. I cannot define what relaxations are for him.

I know letting him to like chess is more important than looking time and asking him to study chess for a while. Last year, I could ask him to study chess for about 45 minutes every day— not any more.  If he can’t study chess frequently, he’ll have more bad tournaments in future unless he enjoys playing chess and has a more mature mind to play.

After last tournament I told him: “Mistakes are not problems, unless you repeat them.” I hope he’d bother to learn from those mistakes and grow more interests at chess.

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Oct
11
2011

Unexpected after playing a scholastic chess tournament

Abe cried loud before going to bed last night. He did not have a bad tournament and was one of the top finishers of the section. But he said he wanted to be the winner of his section. I remembered he never said wanting to be a winner of any chess tournament before.  The winner of each section in last weekend’s tournament had a cool prize—a netbook computer.

He said he was just lucky going this far in the tournament but he missed his chance to get the top prize. I told him that the same tournament: Susan Polgar World Open for Boys and Girls would come back next year. “You can have another shot next year.” I said, “But you’ll have to improve yourself, you cannot depend on luck alone.”

“No, I won’t, everyone else will improve.” Abe replied.

I knew I didn’t need to say much and Abe would figure out the answer.

“Let him cry a little more if he wants.” I thought.

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Oct
4
2011

Break through

Abe had a lucky day: he had several breakthroughs in today’s soccer game.  Here is one of them:

Finally he broke through

Finally he broke through

I put down my camera and tried to locate him: …he almost fell to ground… he kicked the ball… the ball looked going to the net before it hit the post…  screams burst from his teammates and others —what a pity!

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Sep
30
2011

6th Annual Susan Polgar World Open for Boys and Girls is only one week away!

If you have kids, who want to play chess in a scholastic tournament, you may want to consider this one. If the kid is just a beginner, it’s fine, he/she may get a free USCF membership, and this one is a good first one for the kid to treasure. If the kid is experienced, let he/she will have a lot of fun with other kids,  after this one, he/she may like chess more and have a stronger desire for later big tournaments.

The tournamnet is about one week from now, you can register online at http://www.polgarworldopen.com/

 

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Sep
15
2011

Soccer season

Abe was very excited when he was making the school JV soccer team last week. He had been talking about making the soccer team several times even before the school started. It’s all new to him, like games and practices many times a week, like traveling with other teammates and the coach in a school bus for a game out of the town, besides, he needs to get up early every morning for school, around 7 am. In fact, he got up that early last Saturday, I thought he’s over excited. He had no school on Saturday, he just went downstairs to play a new Wii game, something like Madden NFL, I bought for him recently.

Today after school, he had a game. Since he also plays in AYSO on Sundays. He had soccer games or practices in four consecutive days. Next week, he will have soccer games in four consecutive days. I worried a little about his stamina— “could he get hurt if he is too tired and lost his concentration?”. But as long as he is having fun and wants running in the field, I know I should not worry too much. In addition, I know he needs to build stamina and to learn from mistakes to grow up, and to some degree, playing sports will help him playing better chess.

Soccer game after school

Soccer game after school

 

 

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Aug
31
2011

School and Chess

Summer is over! Although not officially, but I can realize it since Abe could not sleep as late as he wanted anymore. In the last week or so, he had to get up at around 7 am. At evenings, he seemed had much more homework than last year and he also had to go to bed early. A busy school year ahead of him.

Abe went to several tournaments in the past weeks and had so so performances (or a bit worse) . I did not remind him anything like I usually did like “Fight to the end” or “Be patient” before games. I thought he had to learn his own mistakes himself. In addition, “New school year is coming”, negative comments, or not, will be pressure to him, he will surely have less time on chess because of the school, then he could performed even worse. It will be a vicious cycle. I do not want it, I do not want Abe to think chess is boring to him.

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Jul
18
2011

Luck stroke again

Last weekend, Abe played in Chicago Class chess tournament.   I put him playing up one class since Abe, most often, plays better against slightly higher rated players —plays worse against lower rated players. I guess  his concentration plays a big roll in his performance. He concentrates more when playing against high rated players; he makes many careless mistakes when playing against low rated players. Moreover, even he loses to high rated players, he will learn more from the experience. I think it is good for his long term improvement.

So he played in the  Class A section, unexpectedly, he scored three wins and two draws out of the five games, tied for first in his section. Some people asked me why he did so good, I replied he was lucky. In fact, in the past, it happened to him that he lost all games in a tournament, he had his share of bad luck then.  While in this tournament, good luck had been with him.

Good luck or not, most players had a good time. I took a picture before the round two, as you can see, even those kids are having a good time (I think many are excited) waiting games to begin:

Kids are chatting before a round at the chess tournament.

Kids are chatting before a round at the chess tournament.

 

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Jul
5
2011

“Played like a Child”

Over the long July 4th weekend, Abe played in the FIDE Continental America’s Amateur Chess Championship. He had a so-so performance with an even score (3.5 out 7).

 

2011 FIDE Continental America's Amateur Chess Championship

2011 FIDE Continental America's Amateur Chess Championship

After the first day’s games (he scored 0.5 point out of 2), on the way home, he said he’s winning in the second game, then he made a mistake to take the opponent’s  strong piece: a rook in stead of a pawn. After that, Abe said it’s a drawn position. Looked surprised, I asked him “Played like a Child?”

I felt Abe’s not offended since Abe then mentioned Magnus Carsen commented his own lost game to Garry Kasparov “I played like a child” when Magnus was 13.

“I am still a child” Abe added.

Two days later, I have the computer analyzed the game. I asked Abe to have a look at the analysis result: The ending’s not a drawn position, he still has chance to win.

“Oh, the Opposition!” Abe exclaimed after looking at the 1st move.

I remember we watched a video together about pawn endgame (including the technique of Opposition) not long ago.

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Jun
1
2011

Is better to watch your kids playing in a tournament?

Abe played at Chicago Open last weekend. He scored one win, two draws and four losses. Yesterday, after looking at computer analysis showing he made mistakes here and there in his games, he told me he did poorly at the tournament. I think it’s a good learning experience for him. Since the slow time control, many of his games went into endgame, which he could seldom reach in previously tournaments. It looked to me his errors most arose at the transition from middle game to end game.

The chess playing hall is huge, chess players and chess parents are free to walk around to look other player’s games as long as they do not interfere with the players.

One thing funny is I could not watch longer than 5 minutes on Abe’s play in a stretch before I move ahead, mostly to GM’s tables. It is easy to criticize Abe’s lack of concentration after the game. But during the game, when Abe concentrated and tried hard to figure out his next good move, it is so hard for me to watch. It is so tense, I do not know much about chess, but I can count number of pieces and pawns of each side on board. Many times I worried if Abe is down  in material “Hope he can hold the game”; I also worried if Abe is up in material “Maybe the opponent set up a trap, sacrificed some material to go to the checkmate,  Abe will be in trouble soon”.  I do not know if Abe can see me, my presence might boost his spirit to fight on, or distract him. So I said to myself “Abe, try your best.” then I move on.

Many parents have the strong nerves to watching kids playing in tournaments (some tournaments allow spectators), I don’t.  I even don’t know it is good for the kids. Consider most chess parents are much worse than their kids in terms of chess playing strength. No matter you are a chess parent or a chess player, I’d like to hear your opinion on the question: “Is better for chess parents to watch kids playing in a tournament”?

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May
25
2011

Gelfand, a “local” hero, to challenge champion Anand

GM Boris Gelfand won the World Candidates Matches final in Kazan and will challenge the reigning chess world champion next year. I was so glad to hear the news.Why? Because he is like a local hero. Boris, when he was a kid, had a coach named Tamara Golovey, Tamara has a chess club in town, the chess club Abe had been to as I mentioned in this post.

You may want to check Andi Rosen’s beautiful article about Boris and Tamara on USCF website. I agree 100 percent with the article.  She is a second mother or grandmother to many local chess players — Abe included,

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May
11
2011

Two articles about then and now of Gata Kamsky

Gata Kamsky won the 2011 US chess Championship weeks ago, and advanced to the semifinals in 2011 FIDE  Candidates Matches for the world championship by defeating Veselin Topalov days ago. Maybe he will bring us another surprise later.

I found an old article about the teenager Gata and his father and a recent article about  his gracious moment at 2010 US Championship. Maybe you want to take a look at both articles.

Go Gata!

 

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Apr
26
2011

“Patience and concentration bring you good luck.”

That’s what I told Abe before the tournament last Saturday. It worked this time. Abe drew with a Master in the first round. After the game I congratulate him by saying “Good job. I was especially happy for you since you fought until the last second.” He literally had one second left on his clock after the draw was agreed upon by both players. If not the time delay, Abe would lose on time, even on a theoretical drawn position.

So Abe was very excited. He gladly promised to take a ten-minute walk  together outside after next round — We did not have time to take a walk right now since next round would begin in fifteen minutes.

It’s cloudy as we found after stepping outside the chess playing room, but still it’s Spring time.  The air’s fresh and grass green. Noticing not far in front,  a goose strolling leisurely across the side walk, wagging his tail behind him,  Abe said: “Maybe he is lost.”

“Lucky for him, at least he is outside.” I replied, even not sure what I meant.

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Apr
20
2011

2011 National Junior High

Last week, we drove to Columbus, Ohio for the 2011 National Junior High Championship. Abe played in the K-8 section and got a small trophy for tying with 20th place. He felt he was lucky with his parings as he got four points from much lower rated players and two losses were against much higher rated players. He found he missed his winning moves in one of the two losses upon re-reading his score book today. So he was not exceptional lucky all the way. “Maybe you played too quick to find the right moves?” I asked him.

One thing he’s improved, as I saw in the last two tournaments, is his concentration level. He probably learned his lessons from several of his recent very bad tournament performances. I asked him taking a shower and a nap in his hotel room between the rounds. We used to go back our hotel room watching sports news on TV. I thought the new change should help him at a higher concentration level during the games. In addition, our hotel room was about one mile away from the tournament site, we have walked back to hotel twice. Being able to walk outside in Spring  helped Abe having a good mood and being lucky.

We had a good time, so are many others, I believe. In the chess playing hall, one thousand kids competing under one roof!

About one thousand kids playing at the 2011 National Junior High Championship

About one thousand kids playing at the 2011 National Junior High Championship

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Mar
29
2011

Concentration

There were three junior events held concurrently at North Shore Chess Center last weekend. Most of the state top junior players competed there; it was quite a strong field.

Many top junior players in the state compete at the chess center

Many top junior players in the state compete at the chess center

Abe continued his bad performance this month. In fact, Abe did not play that quickly in several of his games, while he lost them at the end anyway. As I thought the patience was very important in chess games, for a while, I’d been telling him that I would be satisfied “if he slows down no matter he wins or loses his game”. So, I tried to find some positive sides of his games and could not criticize his loss much.  However, I did notice that although he slowed down, he spent more time looking around at other games including setting his eyes long and often on his neighboring board. When I told him that, in several instances I watched, he had a better position or material advantage and later careless mistakes cost the games again and again, he seemed agreed. He said he was so easily being distracted.

“He must have been lack of concentration,” I guessed. “Maybe he was tired, he usually spent all of his energy in playing in parties or in playing video games.”

Next weekend, he will test his patience and concentration again playing in another tournament. “He must not get too tired before that,” I thought. “But it’s Spring Break next week!”

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Mar
21
2011

From 4 to 32 in four months

Abe played in a G-45 chess tournament last Sunday afternoon. Back about four months ago,  he played the same G-45 tournament when the tournament was debuted as a monthly event. At that time, only four players showed up. So they played in a round robin format, every one played each of the rest, which resulted in three rounds, although four rounds was advertised. I remembered we went back home around 6:00pm.

Since 32 players showed up yesterday,  there were enough players for four rounds. Some people withdrew from the last round in order to return home early. Abe played all four games— finished his last game around 8:45 pm. If you plan to play the same events in future, you might want to register early, the chess center can only hold 40 player as I counted yesterday.

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Mar
14
2011

Lecture by Lufei Ruan

In case you do not know Ms. Ruan, she is the runner up in the 2010 Women’s World Chess Championship, and she is also a full time student pursuing her PHD degree in accounting at Carnegie Mellon University.

What an opportunity it’s to join the lecture by a world elite chess player who is, at the same time, highly successful academically in a LOCAL chess club! I might not understand her games in the Women’s World Championship, as a chess parent, however, I was eager to know her growth and advices on parenting chess kids.

Last Saturday, Abe and I went to the lecture. As it turned out, part of her lecture on the games in the championship was very enjoyable, even to me. I felt all the audience, both kids and adults, were engaged and amazed by her lecture. On advices giving to parents, she said, based on her own experience, parents might want to study together with kids at beginning. Later on, parents should put a faith that the kids can be on themselves and  let kids have more freedom. Lufei said, even now days, she still got many advices from his dad, she usually disagree on many of them, but some are useful. She said, her dad might be equivalent to a Class B player. I thought: ” His dad is much better than me, I probably is a class H player at my peak. Abe might disagree more than many of what I’d say later.”

A lecture by Lufei Ruan

A lecture by Lufei Ruan

On the way home I listed to Abe somethings I learned from the lecture such as “do not play passively” “Always try to win” and “endgame is important”; I asked Abe what I missed. “Do not create (too many) weaknesses.” he added.

 

 

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Mar
9
2011

Good, bad and …

In the last weekend’s state K-8 championship tournament, some one had a good tournament, some one had a bad tournament,  Abe, however, had a very bad tournament. What could you complain about after you remembered the name of the town — Normal!

Before the last round of the tournament

Before the last round of the tournament

The tournament was held in a university student center. At first, it seemed crowded. Actually, it’s not a bad place. There were rooms and seats for all the waiting parents and siblings. Nice.

 

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Feb
22
2011

USAT North

It’s the first time that Abe played in a team tournament. It looked that it’s a lot of fun. What a strong and diversified field! Many teams were from out of the state, even many local players were not familiar to me: some from high school, with a lot of energy and determination, and greatly underrated; some senior masters,  with a little bit of rust  but still enough prohibitive capabilities.

USAT North

USAT North

After one of Abe’s losses, I asked him did he blundered. He said “No, it’s just a miscalculation. I was winning before that.” In fact, a later computer analysis revealed a swing of at least seven pawn values (I thought one pawn value loss could be considered a blunder).

He said he was so scared of sacrifice, I guessed that his miscalculation could be on a bad sacrifice. I told him that there are two options to deal with it. One is to think more to make sure it work. The other is not to take that risk if you are not sure, instead, try to transfer the game into a favorable endgame.

Abe mentioned his sacrifice worked except his opponent got too many compensations. I replied ” You meant that your sacrifice did not work, didn’t you.” I guess if  my suggestions were good,  Abe would knew them already since he read much more chess books than I do. Therefore, he won’t listen to me. A better alternative is, as I hoped, to let him learn from his mistakes.

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Feb
7
2011

A winter wonderland

For those who participated in the 1st North America Amateur Open last weekend at North Shore Chess Center, you probably agree with me at the title. I took some pictures last Friday night:

The road leading to the chess center

The road leading to the chess center

Outside of the chess center

Outside of the chess center

Inside of the chess center

Inside of the chess center

It’s a pity if you missed it. By the way, there’s more snow falling the next day.

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