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How Did John Keir win 6-0 in his 2nd Tournament?

Mar 31, 2016, 1:10 PM 9

I like to tell the following story to my students rated under 1600:

About 20 years ago I was giving lessons to John Keir's son, Clayton. John was an active member of our scholastic club and decided to become a USCF tournament director. After one event as a club director, he decided he wanted to move up to a regular "local" director, but to do so he needed to be a USCF rated player.

So John played in one event and got an OTB rating in the 1100's.

His second event was the large National Chess Congress, at that time held at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Philadelphia. John entered the Under-1200 section, which that year featured many promising juniors.

As you already know from reading the title of this blog, John amazingly swept the section 6-0. He won about $580, which is more than I have won, in total, in my entire tournament chess career (the most I ever won in one event was for winning the Gr Phila Closed Championship in 1973, which was $200. Good if you adjust for inflation Smile).

So, as soon as the final game ended, I asked John,

"How did you do it? How did you manage to sweep only your second event, winning every game?"

John smiled and replied,

"Simple. You know how you go over Clayton's games and you are always saying 'Move every piece once, before you move any piece twice, unless there's a tactic?' You must have told him 500 times.

"So I resolved that you would not be able to tell me that about any of my games. In every game I moved every piece once without moving any piece twice and castled, getting 7 pieces into the game. My opponents, on the other hand, always managed to move several pieces more than once, so that in every game I had 7 pieces out to my opponent's 3 or 4.

Naturally with such a big advantage in development, I automatically got a strong attack. Then all I had to do was to be careful and not make any big tactical mistakes to give them free pieces. And thankfully, I did not, so I ended up winning all my games easily!"

I was startled that John had successfully implemented this important concept so readily - it seemed that all of my lower-rated students (before and after!) had such a difficult time following this powerful idea. As a consequence, my answer came quickly:

"If we could bottle that and sell it, we could make a fortune!Laughing

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