A "ChessKids" National Championship Experience

A "ChessKids" National Championship Experience

IM DanielRensch
May 20, 2011, 12:00 AM |
13 | Other

With most of my "national championship experiences" coming as a player, I am here to tell you that participating in an event like the Elementary (K-6) National Chess Championships in Dallas, Texas from May 5-8 as coach/business man was entirely different. Initial impressions on which experience I enjoyed more?

Both were great... but let's just say that I thought I worked hard as a player! Nothing compares to the exhaustion felt after doing free game analysis from 8am to 10pm for three days in a row. We (my partners and I) essentially threw ourselves into the "lion's den", and left everything on the table. We spent the weekend at the complete disposal and mercy of hundreds of kids! Why, you ask?

 

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The K-6 Elementary Nationals in Dallas, Texas -- hosted at the Hilton Anatole hotel -- saw nearly 2,000 participants compete for a National Championship...

The purpose for our trip was to connect with coaches and parents from all around the country and provide presentations as to what www.ChessKid.com is capable of. ChessKid.com, for all you "Daddy site" members who aren't aware, is our scholastic extension site designed just for kids. AND this event, held once a year, is the "wood-stock" for all pre-teen chess addicts in the United States. So, along with strong expert and "kid teacher extraordinaire" David Petty, as well as my partner in crime, IM David Pruess, we flew into Dallas to "make our presence known" to the masses of chess players who had gathered for a chance at scholastic chess immortality (aka win a National Championship title).

 

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David Petty, known affectionately to the kids on ChessKid.com as "PinkHamster" reviewed games for hours on end and the kids couldn't get enough...

ChessKid.com was built on the same backbone and philosophy in regards to training tools and features as Chess.com with two major differences -- one being an addition, and the other a subtraction:

The addition? "Discount or 'Club' Pricing" -- aka the ability for coaches and parents to purchase a group/batch of memberships at a discounted rate for their clubs, schools, etc. In setting out to create ChessKid.com, we wanted to make it affordable to ALL scholastic chess players, and by offering our batch discount rates, even those in "disadvantaged" finacial areas can still consider supplementing their program with memberships on ChessKid.com!

The subtraction? No social networking!!! As much as we love some of the crazy banters that take place on our site here Tongue out, and we love all of you who consider it your personal duty to keep those conversations going Wink, we can all understand why a mother wouldn't want to subject her 8 year old to some of our Forum Threads... Because of that subtraction, you are looking at a site with all of our great features -- from Tactics Trainer, to Video Lessons, to Computer Workout, to Articles, etc -- that is completely safe for kids!

I don't want to ramble on any further, as this isn't a written infomercial, but I did want to make our members aware of the "other project" keeping their Director's of Content (me and Pruessy-Bear) from doing Chess/TV non-stop Laughing... back to the kids!

 

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Another Chess Kid!

There were many, maybe hundreds, of kids who made it a regular habit of coming by our tables for a little Tactics Trainer practice, watch a video, or even have their game reviewed. Though we can't throw everyone who visited us a "shout out", some mention has to be made of two little boys in particular -- as both are regulars on ChessKid and Chess.com and both finsihed in the top of their sections:

 

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IM David Pruess, sporting his black Chess.com hat, plays a simul against two kids while others practice tactics on the projector screen...

Congrats to Ben Rood and Milind Maiti! Ben, a 1st grader already rated over 1600, dominated the K-1 Section finishing a perfect 7-0. Milind finished right behind him in third place with 6.5 points out of 7. Milind, by the way, was a Kindergartner competing in a section of Kinder and First Graders, so his performance was almost as impressive as Ben's! Full standings can be found here.

 

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K-1 Champion Ben Rood and his mother were kind enough to let me grab a photo before running off to the awards ceremony to collect a trophy taller than Ben himself!

 

To respect their privacy, I won't make mention of what their usernames are on the sites -- BUT I will say that Milind's (he's a 5 year-old mind you) has a Tactics Trainer rating OVER 2200! Ben is an addict for any kind of chess and spends as much time playing games as I do (likely more these days Yell).

"ChessKid.com deserves a HUGE amount of credit for my son's success", was a quote from Milind's father in Dallas.

 

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More kids, more games, more tactics, more fun!!!

 

Exhausting as it was, the weekend turned out to be very rewarding! As Ben, Milind and other "regulars" began to emerge victorious -- all within their own standards and expectations -- there was a slight sense of accomplishment felt by our team as well. Because ChessKid.com doesn't have "member threads" of any kind (aka no feedback) -- it is sometimes hard to judge, well, how we are doing! How are the kids reacting to our teaching methods? Can we keep their attention? Are we doing a good job at all? Can I even teach kids of this age and skill level? What's happening to me Undecided? etc, etc, etc.

We learned (or perhaps confirmed) that we still can teach kids of that age and level! We can keep their attention and interest high! We can make it fun while still getting great points across! In fact, many kids recognized us by our ChessKid.com usernames and were super excited to see us in person. A few even made mentions of Pardon Our Blunders, and as excited as David and I were to have Chess.com/TV fans present, I couldn't help but wonder whether his parents knew he enjoyed mine and David's rants on a regular basis Tongue out?!?

 

 

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A green shirt and a sticker... what can I say? The kids rubbed off on me!

 

"I was surprised at the high level of chess being played by so many munchkins from around the country", said IM David Pruess. "Munchkin chess really has gone to another level from when I was a kid!"

 

 

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David explains some of our features to an interested Chess Dad!

 

A thank you must go out to Susan Berger, whose kids are also active ChessKid.com members, and whom provided most of these photos. The top photo from this article pictures me and her daughter Sarah doing a little "post-mortem analysis" of one of her games. Thank you also to Pat Smith from the USCF scholastic office for giving us this opportunity to showcase our site and have fun teaching kids at the same time!

Thanks to everyone who reads this article. If you have any questions about tournament chess or what these events are like, please ask them in the comment threads here and I would be more than happy to explain...

Until next time!

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