Memories From a Chess Coach (12-12-2015 updated)

Memories From a Chess Coach (12-12-2015 updated)

Apr 29, 2015, 6:05 PM |

The following will be a blog recording some of my fondest memories from over 10 years of coaching middle and high school students chess. I'll keep adding as i keep remembering lol.

Main picture: David C. (left) defended his H.S. county title winning it again his senior year. D' (Right) captured the H.S. county title as a freshman..took 4th this (senior) year (he also holds state records for power lifting).

Dont Fall Asleep at a Tournament :D

I think it was during the Southern Open...maybe the 3 round which would have been a Saturday night.

The 5 star large hotel room was packed with players...and as expected at a chess tournament.... was quiet.


the snoring began.

It was a very large room and the accustics were such that it was hard to figure out where it was coming from.

As other players were looking around I had had enough and stood up to scan the room...

checking my students who were playing in the lower sections...

and THERE was one of mine.. with his head propped up by his arm/hand over eyes

..what looked like deep in concentration..

but players around him were giggling...

it was HIM!

I had just got up to make the long walk across the room to confirm if he was sleeping when his opponent who had had enough, slammed his knight 3x on the square he had last moved to.

He woke up right away with a start!


Anger Managment

About 5 years ago, members of my team played in one of the monthly St Pete tournaments. There was an elementary, middle school, highschool sections as well as an adult "Open" section. Most of my students played in the middle school section...

including one anger "challenged" student. Make no mistake, he was a very strong players finishing 15-1 in the county 4 month chess tournament season.

He just reallly hated to lose.

He had just come out from the 1st RD... face red with anger.. and repeatedly telling me .."Im done!...Im done!..... Im done!"

He then proceeded to find his mom and demand that they leave. I tried to convince him not to with the usual...

... everybody loses

.... opportunity to learn..

... go walk it off...

..etc etc...

to no avail. He and his mom then walked to the parking lot ... his mom trying to calm him down... I decided to give him some cooling off period...we still had about a 1/2 hr till the next RDs pairing would be up.

After 15minutes i found them in his moms car... passenger seat... slamming his tennis shoes into the dash bord... with the engine running and bout to leave...

... I told him... in 20 minutes you are going to calm down 30 miles down the free way.... and you will regret leaving and missing the rest of the tourny. Now... I know you can calm yourself enough to take on the next match... you have 10 minutes to get ready ..RD two bout to start...

I will see you in there.

Well, he did show up for RD 2....and proceded to go undefeeted for the next 4 rds earning 3rd place out of 50 or so students.

After receiving his trophy... I asked him to leave the trophy with me to bring to other tournaments... because I wanted to show him that trophy... everytime he lost as proof that he could over come his anger and not quit but win after a loss.


One Second!

Several years ago some of my students and I competed in the Central Florida Class Championships. David C had a game for the ages winning with literally 1 second left on the clock (his opponent had over 40 minutes)! That Saturday morning 1st round match was about as exciting as chess can get... he was almost hyper-ventilating exiting the playing hall and had to be walked around the hotel to calm down. What made it laughably worse was that he kept writing down his moves almost to the one second mark! ... notation I like to call "panic squiggle". My fault... I had failed to inform him of the 5 min left stop notating rule...oops.

Dramatic First Championship

Flash back to the 2008-2009 season. We were coming off from the previous years top 3 finish placing 3rd so we were no longer a secret. It was the fourth monthly tournament (Jan) and we were currently 2nd behind LC Academy by 1/2 a point. As it would turn out, the whole season came down to my 6th grader vs LCA's undefeated 15-0 K. Renn. If my player won, we would take 1st place and the County Chess Championship by 1/2 a point. I was on pins and needles as other players came in and would report how the game was going on board #1. Some would say our player was down a Rook and was losing then another would say he was up a Pawn going into the endgame... it was so intense. Finally, that game was the only one left out of over 600 kids...

and then...

I saw my player enter the large skittles room.... and I couldnt tell, as was his nature... if he lost or won. of course that drove me crazy!

About 1/2 way between the entrance and our table he gave me the sign...

The thumbs up sign.....

He won! He beat the best player in the county....  and with it..our first county chess championship. :)

Singing Goes Before the Fall!

We were at one of the big Orlando Tournaments... most probably Saturday morning and the 1st round. I was playing one section above one of my Students (Trevorn H) and as luck would have it... he was playing right behind me so i was able to make quick glances to check out his game. It was about late middle in my student's game...

...when the singing began.

My students opponent was singing. Or more accuratly... mouthing the words to the tunes carried to his head phones via walkman.

He was kinda dancing

Obviouslly I was annoyed and I knew my student must have been too...

i got up to look at the position to see what he was so happy about.

Although both had 2 Rooks and a Knight and the same amount of Pawns... my students opponent had both Rooks on my students second Rank and was beginging to mow down some Pawns and possibly threaten mate....

I was expecting my students hand to shoot up and call the TD over to quell all the shinanigans...

but he didnt. All the other games arounded them had ended so there wasnt others... save for myself and my opponent that would raise the alarm.

Still my student did nothing.... and after his second knight move ...

I knew why.

He was getting in postition for a Rook and Knight corner pattern checkmate!... just one more move....

Surely, his opponent would see the threat and simply block it..yes?


He was too busy having a good time! LOL

He gobbled one more pawn when Trevorn calmly waited for the guy to record his move and hit the clock.

Trevorn... then slowly reached for his Rook and moved...(Rh2 mate).... stating the words... Check Mate.

The singing kid was dumbfounded. Shocked would be a good word. He stared at the position for a solid minute....

Now..NOT singing... or dancing...

Just shaking his head.

After words... Trevorn told me he remembered the mating pattern from BobbyFischer Teaches Chess (one of the best chess books to give anyone) and that he never felt so good in getting a win as he did vs. the smug singing player.

I did too. :D

Too Sick to Play?.. NOPE.

A few years ago we played in one of the big Orlando Tournaments (Southern, Florida Class etc). One of my players, Josiah... looked sick.. white as a ghost walking into his 2nd round. I was very worried. His dad was there at the tournament too and I thought for sure that either during the round or after... him and his dad would leave. During the round, unknown to me at the time... he actually got up, went to the bathroom and "got sick" there. Feeling better... he beat that opponent and then went on a win streak finishing at 4-1, tied for 2nd place and good enough for $187.00!

To think I was ...this close.... to sending hime home. :)

New Year Big Changes

There were big changes going into the 2015/2016 Chess season starting with a new Principal and new Vic- Principal... who, unfortunantly... didnt share the same passion for chess that the previous administration had. They eliminated the chess class that made CLMS so unique in Florida and so I was forced to depend only on after school "chess club" to coach. This made it harder to promote the team and I had to be satisfied with 10 student players instead of the usual 20-25. Still, I was up beat as always looking forward to the season. My team.. two 8th graders, two 7th graders and six 6th graders... the youngest least experienced in 11 years of coaching. But, they have performed beyond even my high hopes... finishing 3rd, 2nd and a probable 2nd in the 3 monthly tournaments out of 20 teams that compete in Polk Scholastic Chess County Tournaments placing us in a solid second place overall for the season. Most of the wins coming by my 6th graders. :)



More memories to follow.