I've been really lucky to be involved in chess coaching for the past 10 years and find out about lots of events for young players. Like in many countries the challenge for chess organisers in Australia is not developing new players at primary school level, but maintaining interest into high school and beyond. As a result, here in Melbourne, we have thousands of primary school players, but a small number of players making it to adult game.
At the end of August, the Victorian Inter- University Championship took place at RMIT. It was a pretty strong tournament held in a really friendly atmosphere, and in wonderful surroundings.
|On the left, 2 of the favourites Zhigen Lin and Simon Schmidt|
|The amazing ceiling of the venue, Storey Hall|
At an even younger age group, I recently visited Hobart, Tasmania to help coach at a chess camp. There were about 25 kids, some of whom were getting pretty good, ranging from about 7 years old through to about 13 or 14. A Tasmanian Chess Camp means lots of coaching, and lots of outdoor activities, a blitz tournament, a simul, a barbecue and lots of fun. This is all thanks to the Hobart International Junior Chess Club, and especially the efforts of Mellissa Harvey.
|Nearly empty scout hut, most of the kids were outside having a break from chess coaching.|
I focussed on simple messages, though some of the material was quite tricky, including some very advanced ideas about pins. Although talking about such a basic concept as the pin might not seem that inspiring, when you show pins in game situations, and then set some tough puzzles about creating pins, exploiting pins, defending pins, and checking whether pins are good or not. Tactics are always good for juniors, and adding real game settings give the concepts some context, and kids love hearing stories about famous chess players (or not so famous chess players).
A blitz tournament was held on the Saturday evening, with some adults taking part to add some tough competition for the kids. It is great that adults should take the time to do this, as kids need role models, and targets in their development. Here's my game against the player who came second, Ross George. Please remember, this was a 5 minute game, and as far as I can remember, the move order is right!
There have been some films about chess over the years, and last week there was a showing of the film, "The Polgar Variant" at my local cinema. International arbiter (IA) Gary Bekker had the bright idea of running a chess demonstration in the foyer of the cinema before the film started, and I brought along some clocks and checked things out.
|Zhi Lin Guo taking on members of the public|
|Gary Bekker playing Charlotte Dilnutt with publicity, all good for chess.|
The President of Frankston Chess Club, Rafael Ward, also happens to be the impetus behind Chess Boxing Australia. Here we get a combination of chess and boxing with the first to either checkmate or knock out being the winner. This weekend sees the inaugural Fight Knight. While boxers would have a good chance of knocking out chess players, apparently a competitor has to have a certain proficiency in both disciplines to compete.....shame :D