Newham Primary Schools Competition
Yesterday I ran my fourth primary schools competition in Newham, the East London borough where I live and teach chess. Last year there were five competing teams - this year it dropped to three. Perhaps it was the time of year - ie, end-of-term special events, etc. Next year I shall consider bringing it forward a week or two.
There were 26 players - two teams of ten and one of six. For the team competition I used a format I had learnt from Kings of New York - a book about scholastic chess in New York - ie, only a certain number of a team's top scores count towards the team total. So, in this case it was six - ie, all the scores in the six-player team counted and only the top six from the other teams.
The format was a five-round Swiss, which was fine given the numbers. Each round lasted 30 minutes, including making the draw and collecting the results - so that made for a two and a half hour tournament - just right for the age group (7-11). The noise level from those who finished early each round increased as the afternoon went on.
Also useful was having a separate table with chess sets for players to go to if they had an earlyt finish to their games. This was new this time and something I shall repeat.
One trend was several Scholar's Mates (ie, Qf7++ supported by the Bishop on c4 - sometimes mirrored for Black) - both successful and attempted. Both I and a coach at another school had taught this to our students - but purely as something to watch out for and defend against. How naive we were - and embarrassed to then see our students using it.
Another trend was students' inability to checkmate with overwhelming advantage against a lone king. I suppose however much one goes over it in class, dropping a half point in a won position is going to be a great teacher.
Click here for photos.