Why I've taken up chess (again)

Jul 11, 2013, 5:45 PM |

To be fair, I have been a patzer for most of my life.  I remember playing my first game with my father somewhere between the age of 3 and 5.  For more than a decade he ground me down in some variation of the Italian game, finishing up in a k+p ending that he converted to a rook.  In hind sight this was a terrible way to play and learn chess, though I am not too bad in rook end games as a result.

Now I am a dad now too  I taught both my sons the pieces at around three or four.  My oldest boy started tournament chess at 7 and my youngest played his first tournament at five to be like his big brother.

When I taught my oldest by the moves and how to play, I would handicap him a queen and a rook and win about half the games.  He steadily improved until I could not handicap him more than a piece.  Then I enrolled him in a week long chess camp when he was 7.  He played and learned chess for 8 hours a day, mostly with kids a couple of years older than him.  He went in thinking he would lose every game.  He finished the week with a more than even score and with a rating in the high 700s.  I no longer could afford to handicap him a single piece, and one mistake and its a draw, two its curtains.

I've TD's many of his tounaments, and I've learned a few things.  Tactics and endings win games.  7 and 8 year olds kibitzing a game sound exactly like 30 year olds.  Elementary kids talking about super GM ratings is great fun.  Lastly, no five hour tournament game is as stressful as having your son going into the last round tied for first.

Many tournaments later  including a city championship and a provincial runner up, I am less stressed when he plays.  He know what he knows and I can tell when he's on form.

If you have kids, get them playing.  The best young players by and large have parents who play.  Teach them tactics and basic mates.  I've seen dozens of kids games with hanging queens move after move and K+Q endings that couldn't close the deal.  The second most important thing to teach them is respect at the board.  Silence in voice and moves is professional.  As a TD I've had headaches after a couple of hours of  piece and clock smashing and warning about talking.

Most of teach them the beauty of the game and to have fun.  At 7 or 70, chess is hands down the best game ever (with Mouse Trap a close second)

If you are in Canada get your kids playing at:  http://chess-math.org/about.htm

In Edmonton:  http://www.rovingchessnuts.com/ and http://www.edmontonjuniorchess.com/