Archive for April, 2016

 Term 2 of chess coaching is now underway and I am faced with the regular problem of what lessons to give to my students.  Of  course Chess Kids has a number of standard lessons available on-line for its coaches to access but I prefer to do my own thing.

Over the school holidays I have been following the chess tournaments in Australia and overseas in search of instructive positions/games for my lessons.  Over Easter James Morris, a former Chess Kids work experience student, put in the best performance of his life to win the Doeberl Cup in Canberra with a grandmaster performance rating.   Unfortunately James did not play enough foreign players to register his first GM norm but I’m sure that can’t be far away.  I have already shown one of James’ positions to my students where he manages to draw an inferior knight endgame against the Indian GM Gangly and there are a couple of his games that I shall use also.

We recently had a Chess Kids Coach Training session where it was stressed that each lesson should tell a story to entertain the students so I’ve been thinking about what stories I could tell.   For the first week of lessons I’ve decided to talk about memory in chess.   Do chess players have good memories?  A study in Holland in the 1930s suggested that the answer was “no” except for one area in which good chess players out-performed less-good chess players.   That area?   (Surprise!) turned out to be in remembering chess positions.  The explanation is simple … pattern recognition.   Good chess players can remember pieces in “blocks” whereas a beginner remembers them piece by piece.

Of course the ultimate test of a chess player’s memory is the ability to play blindfold chess.  In the 1700’s people were amazed when Philidor played 3 people simultaneously blindfolded but since then the world record for blindfold play has rapidly expanded.  My lesson will focus on the 1937 attempt by US Master George Koltanowski who played 35 players at once to set a new blindfold chess record.   Part of Kolty’s secret was that he had stuck a chessboard on the roof of his bedroom above his bed to help him remember the colour of each square and the pattern of the squares.

Perhaps you have a good memory for blindfold chess?   Let’s see.   Imagine that you are Kolty playing as White in the position below in his blindfold simul attempt.   Shut your eyes and work out you next move then compare it with what Kolty played.   He played a nice combination to win the game quickly  …. hope you can do as well.