At what age should a junior play in his first chess tournament?   Start too early and they may be discouraged by their losses.   Start too late and they may miss out on the chance to improve rapidly whilst they are young.

The RJ Shield last week-end featured several 5 year-olds playing in their first event.   I paid particular attention to Elijah Cordover, son of the Chess Guru, who was making his debut.   He played OK but sometimes forgot to recapture pieces, particularly those on his opponent’s bank rank which were too far away to reach!   Elijah ended up the tournament with only half a point but seemed to enjoy himself and noticeably improved as he played more games.   I’m sure in years to come Elijah Bob will a force in junior chess if he keeps it up.

All these young players who played in the RJ Shield have an advantage over Bobby Fischer!   He did not learn the moves until age 6 and played in his first tournament at age 12.  He did however improve rather rapidly and was USA Champion by the age of 14.

Today’s puzzle is a Fischer combination from the 1960 Olympiad when he was 17 years of age.

Letelier v Fischer 1960

[fen caption=”Black to play and win”]4r1k1/ppq3bp/2n1rnp1/5p2/2P2P2/4BBN1/PP3K1P/RQ2R3 b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]


1…Rxe3! 2.Rxe3 Rxe3 3.Kxe3 Qxf4+!! 0-1   If 4.Kxf4 Bh6#