Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Australian Junior Championship Diary 4

Day 5 of the Championship 19/01/2011

Today a set of new tournaments started for under 12's and under 14's. while the under 16's and under 18's continued their events. Funnily enough, the strongest of all these new events is the under 12 boys tournament which probably has the largest number of players of all tournaments. The girls events have been combined, so that means all girls events have doubled up this year, which is a little disappointing, though the lack of girls in tournament chess in Australia is well known to players and organisers. Of course, how to change this situation is something we'd all like to find the answer to, but it doesn't look to be happening in the immediate future.

Chess Coaching at the Australian Juniors....what does it entail? Well it varies depending on the level of the player. There will be a level of preparation for each student. However, if your student is perhaps 1800 rated and playing in the Under-18's, they may need a different level of preparation from an unrated 6 year old playing their first long play tournament. There may also be some general coaching. For instance, I usually make my students work on some tactical exercises each day, and often these will be themed based on something that happened in one of their games. Of course, coaches also have to help their students deal with the elation of great victories, and the deflation of losses as well as suggesting good dietary and lifestyle behaviour during the event.

But perhaps the biggest interaction between a student and coach is post game analysis. Here a coach assesses a player's game, pointing out the good, the bad and the ugly and trying to correct the students thought processes, and point out alternative moves and plans. Here's an example of the end to an analysis session I had today with one of my under 14 students. Consider the following position:

Leading up to this position, white had basically been moving pieces back and forth (eg Bc2-b1-c2 etc) waiting for black (my student) to find a winning plan. Black had previously tried to penetrate with his rook on the a-file, but thought this wasn't getting him anywhere. But the most interesting point was that my student, as black thought the position was fairly even. We then talked about good bishops and bad bishops, about positions with all rooks exchanged, one pair of rooks exchanged, and how black's king can penetrate to e5. We looked at the pawns and agreed that white's were easier to attack, the king side ones especially look vulnerable. So in the end, I think my student agreed that he was positionally winning, and would possibly do things differently to the way he played in the game. 1..Rh3 [to which I thought he may be planning 2..Rh4 intending 3.Rf4 Re2 taking control of the seventh. But no, my student was intending a swift checkmate!] 2.Bb1 [Continuing the policy of "if I do nothing, what can you do?"] 2..Ree3 3.Bc2? Reg3+! ["If you continue to do nothing, I will checkmate you!"] 4.hxg3 Rh1#

A very nice checkmate for a player rated below 1000, and well worked out. And besides getting a good win in the National Junior Championships, hopefully my student will have learned some positional ideas from this game and will consider other ways to win games in similar positions where checkmates aren't possible or the opponent isn't quite so laid back about allowing them.


  1. Wouldn't you lose the exchange if you were to stop the checkmate?

  2. Possibly, and I'm sure black can win material in all sorts of ways. But by moving the bishop back and forward, white was allowing black to do whatever he wanted. Maybe moving the rook across the second rank, or to f4 at some stage might be better for white than what he played.

    Anyway, well played Max :)