The exciting news here at Chess Kids at the moment is that IM James Morris is joining us as a Chess Kids Coach, particularly to service the growing market for private lessons. James of course is one of Australia’s most promising players, still aged just 18 years, who has an aggressive style of play. He recently drove up to Sydney overnight for the Australian Open Lightning Championships, arrived late so had to take 2 half point byes for the first two rounds yet still tied with Bobby Cheng for first place ahead of a strong field including GM Khenkin. James will be a great addition to the Chess Kids stable of coaches.

Speaking of chess coaching, I know in Australia that Chess Coaching is a competitive business, but there is one coaching organisation run by a slightly shadowy figure who is of little account in the Chess World, that seems to run along the lines of a religious cult. It tries to attract converts, then imposes harsh rules upon as to what they can and cannot do. They cannot play in certain events, their coaching is top secret and must not be observed by others and their players’ games at the Australia Junior for example must not be entered into Tornelo. Heaven forbid, other players may see their games! As to their coaching, there seems to be a blind focus on openings and tactics and even their top student at the moment is clearly all at sea when it come to playing positionally. Any coach can go through a player’s games with a computer these days and say “Fritz says you should have played this move” but can they explain why if they are not themselves a strong player?

I watched an interview of GM Kerkin the other day during his tour of Australia, in which he was asked what our top juniors needed to become really strong players. He replied: “You should have a real chess positional understanding. If you don’t understand the position, on tactics you can only come to a certain level. Without understanding what is going on on the board, what are the plans of the sides, its impossible.” I certainly agree with that. The sad part is that one of my students has apparently been “captured” by this cult and has gone over to the dark side. Needless-to-say his results at the Aus Junior were disappointing … possibly something to do with being forced to play new openings. Anyway, I hope he sees the light and can escape back to the world of normal chess coaching before its too late.

Meanwhile I’m focusing on how my students played at the Australian Junior. I came across an interesting tactic (miss by both players) in one of Ryan Kam’s games. Perhaps you can spot it. See diagram below.

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