Monday, December 12, 2011

A Weekend in Tassie

This weekend I have been in Tasmania teaching chess at a chess camp. Each year, The Tasmanian Chess Association and Hobart International Junior Chess Club organised the camp, although as always, what makes these things happen is the vitality and energy of a few very special people. This camp was organised by Melissa Harvey with the help of Ross George and Owen Short, and Nigel Frame who came along to help with some coaching. There were about 25 kids at the camp, varying in ages from about 7 through to about 14, and varying in abilities. However, there was much enthusiasm, some amazing raw talent, and a few pretty strong young players.

My weekend started with a flight from Melbourne on Friday night where I was seated next to a woman with a baby, so by the time I arrived in Tasmania I wasn't particularly disposed to children! But then things started going good. I was picked up by a parent of one of the kids who drove me from the airport. Thanks Dave! We went to the camp where I met up with Melissa, Ross and Owen and a chat before bed. The following day was pretty much full on coaching, though there was some time to enjoy the scenery.

A 1 minute walk to this beach brought spectacular views of Mt. Wellington

I've done these camps before, and always enjoy them. This time the kids were averagely younger than in years gone by, so I chose my material to be a little less advanced than I have when I've been before. However, the material was quite interesting and challenged the kids. They rose to the challenge, and came up with some great ideas as I extended their thinking processes, and they learnt some technical and tactical ideas which they can work on from now. On the Saturday evening, we played a thematic blitz tournament in the Four Knights Opening. I had done some preparation with the kids on this opening and they had a chance to play 7 games in the tournament. The adults who were there also played and I played, though I gave everyone odds of 5minutes to 1 minute. The kids played unbelievably well on the whole, and I felt lucky to come through the tournament with just one loss, to one of the local adult players.
A great thematic opening for kids. Our games started from this position.

The Four Knights Opening proved popular with the kids. It is simple to learn, follows basic opening principles, but allows for some interesting lines as well. The tournament went well, but special mention should  go to Will Warlaw-Kelly, a young player with great talent, who came equal first on 6/7 points!

Working out their strategies on the balcony...danger man Will is second from the right.

We also had a barbecue on the Saturday night (a Tassie chess camp tradition) and a great thing about these camps is that the kids do virtually all the cooking and cleaning up, with a bit of adult supervision.

A Tassie chess camp is not complete without the Saturday night barbie

On the Sunday we had more chess through the morning session followed by a simul. The kids had been pining for a transfer tournament, but the simul went down pretty well. I managed to go through unbeaten, but had a couple of scares along the way. Twice I blundered queens, but managed to get some compensation which later I used to gain material, but I was very lucky indeed. The last man standing in the simul was Bradley Vince who is quite an experienced player in the Primary School division. Saying that, I think he'll be a bit disappointed he didn't do better after winning my queen for 2 minor pieces and a pawn.
Yuvini won a queen against me by using a variation of a trick that I'd showed the kids the day before!

Then there was a big clean up before everyone headed off. I have to say that I was pretty exhausted by the end of the weekend, and I hope the kids took some ideas from this, but even more, I hope I gave them some inspiration to go away and continue the game.

Young Oliver has great talent for the game, and plays better with his teddy near him.


  1. Just want to say thanks very much for all your hard work, Carl! My two boys thoroughly enjoyed the chess camp, and had obviously improved as a result of your influence! One of them being Oliver (pictured with his Teddy) - we were all thrilled to see his picture so thanks very much!

  2. I love teaching chess to kids, and I love coming down to Tassie, so the work doesn't feel too hard :)