It’s been a busy few days for me helping to coach the JETS Training Squad of the 30 or so best juniors in Australia.  The kids are on a week long “chess camp” at Box Hill Chess Club and are divided up into five groups of six players with three days of coaching followed by three days of tournament play and analysis ending up with a simul against GM Zhao on Saturday.

Each coaching session was 3 hours long and I know during my first session I started to doze off after the first hour.  Fortunately I was woken by some of the kids in my group snoring.  I suppose I wasn’t helped by my choice of topic “how to play boring chess” which is my “special subject” in chess.   I did however learn my lesson for the second coaching session and I decided to break every half hour for a quick chess quiz with the winner receiving a chocolate.   I showed the kids a picture of a famous chess player on my iPad and then gave them some hints about the player until someone put up their hand and was able to correctly name the player.  This turned out to be a big hit, and the kids seemed particularly interested in my stories about how each player died.   One of the players for instance died at his chess club whilst trying to remove his coat to leave the club.   Little Emily in the squad kept asking “but why did removing his coat kill him.”   She didn’t understand about heart attacks!

So, for a change, for this week’s puzzle let’s play my quiz about how chess players died.  Your task is to match the players with the manner of their death.

The players are:

A) Alekhine, B) Capablanca, C) Purdy, D) Koshnitsky, E) Fischer, F) Morphy

Manner of death:

A) Died of kidney failure aged 64 years – same as the number of squares on a chess board.

B) Died at his chess club saying “Help me remove my coat.”

C) Died aged 91, surrounded by his family but barely able to communicate.  His last word: “Checkmate!”

D) Died in Portugal alone in his apartment having dinner – chocked on a piece of meat.

E) Died at a chess tournament from a coughing fit brought on when the player next to him blew smoke in his face.

F) Died aged 47 years after taking a cold bath after a long, hot walk.

It was a very busy start to the school holidays with the Novice Tournament (100 players) and the CV Junior Championships (118 players) taking place this weekend.

Well done to Training Squad kids who did really well at the Championships, particularly to Gary Lin who finished =2nd in the U12…  Great result when you see the others he finished equal with, most have 4-5 years of playing experience and some even international experience!  Full Vic Junior results.

This weekend is a big week-end for young chess players in Melbourne.  On Sunday we have the Chess Kids Novice tournament at Monash University plus the Victorian 12U Championships at Box Hill Chess Club on Saturday and Sunday.  I’m planning to drop in to Box Hill to go through some games of our 30 or so juniors who are playing, however the number of entrants currently stands at a massive 106 so there may not be much room for parents and coaches!  If worst comes to worst I guess I can always set up my iPad in one of the Maling Road Cafes and do some coaching from there – sounds like a good option actually!

On Monday the JETS Training Camp starts (also at Box Hill) and I’m planning to lecture on “How to do nothing” using some of my games from Chess Kids on-line as examples.   It’s remarkable, if you just play solidly, how many of your opponents just “self-destruct” without you having to do anything special.  I think playing solidly is a valuable skill for kids to learn, but my favourite on-line opponent “Mysteryman” has been begging me not to show his games.  Alas I cannot agree.  Players should not be embarrassed by their losses.   Losing is a great way to learn from your mistakes!

Today’s puzzle is from the game Arkadius Kalka (2359) v Andrew Brown (2236) from the Gold Coast Open played last week-end.  White is a pawn down but he has a dangerous passed “d” pawn and Black’s attempts to attack on the kingside have been blunted.  It’s White to play so he has three options.

He can try to pick up the “b” pawn with 1.Qb6; He can try to promote his “d” pawn with 1.d6 or he can play 1.Qg4 to swap off queens followed by Bb6 threatening Bc7 and Nc4.  One of these moves is a bit better for White; one is equal and one loses!    Which is which?

Training Squad students were given an assignment; to annotate a game. The best annotated game won a 1-hour private lesson with Carl Gorka. Here is the winning entry, well done Ryan Kam!

It’s been a miserable week in Melbourne – constant rain and freezing cold, so I’ve been trying to think of things to do for keen chess players.  Some Victorians are fleeing North this weekend to the sunny Gold Coast Open – a very strong tournament run by Gardiner Chess.  I’m pretty sure that they will have live games on-line, so sitting in front of the heater with a cup of coffee and following the action is sounding like a good option for this week-end.   What you should try to do is to guess the next move in the game that you are following and then compare your choice with the move actually played.   An excellent way to learn!

Thinking further ahead to the following weekend the Vic. Under 12 Championships will be played at Box Hill Chess Club on the Saturday and the Sunday.  I’ll be following the fortunes of our Chess Kids squad members who are playing, and I think Gary Lin has a chance of doing very well – he’s getting very hard to beat at “Chess Kids On-line.”   There should be live games on-line for this as well.

The following week is the elite JETS Training Squad “camp” also at Box Hill from 2nd to 7th July.  I’ll be joining Rogers, Zhao, Johansen, Solomon and others in coaching Australia’s top juniors so if you want to pop in to have a look I’m sure you’d be welcome.

If you are still at a loose end then there is always “Chess Tempo” the on-line chess tactics site to help you build your mental muscles.   Here’s a sample puzzle which managed to stump me.   Black to play and win …. hope you can do better!

It’s nearly time for school holidays! Hooray! If you’re looking for a fun activity for the chess-a-holic in the family, why not join us on our 4 Day Chess Intensive Camp, being held 14 – 17 July.

For $650 per player (or $358 per parent)  our camp includes:

  • 3 Nights accomodation in a 4.5 star luxury resort in Hobart, Tasmania
  • All meals included
  • Private and Group Coaching Sessions
  • Tournament games and prizes
  • Sightseeing and Tourist Activities

Call 1300 424 377 today to secure your place – but get in quick, there’s only 5 places left!

More information about the camp can be found on the Training Squad website here