Chess Kids is now back into full swing for 2015 and I’m looking forward to the first RJ Shield tournaments for the year on Sunday 22nd February.  I plan to go to the event at the new venue at Mt.Waverley (which should have it’s renovations finished shortly) and perhaps go to the Tucker Road venue next time.

Of course a new year brings new challenges.  At Doncaster Gardens we are the National Primary School Champions but have lost our three best players.  I now have a younger group to work with and hopefully get up to speed to defend our title.  My biggest challenge however will be working with some of our most promising youngsters, aged 7-9 years, including Atlas (who I mentioned last week), Shawn, Oliver and Elijah.

Atlas ia aged 7 and rated 818, Shawn is aged 8 and rated 1045, Oliver is aged 7 and rated 947 and Elijah is aged 9 and rated 940.  It is strange how players are becoming quite good at such a young age these days.  Atlas only started playing about a year ago whilst little Oliver has been playing since he was 4 and has now competed in over 100 tournaments.   I have a weekly lesson with both Atlas and Shawn but my main plan is to get them together as a group wherever possible to get some friendly competition going between them.  I have arranged for them to meet at Chess Kids Mt.Waverley next Friday night and we are going to play training games and then do a bit of analysis together.  It should be fun.  That sort of competition worked well in the 1970s when I was running the Victorian Junior Chess League and we had a great group of juniors all competing against each other to be the best.

I know that some coaches teach a lot of opening theory and play through grandmaster games with their students.  I have a different approach.  I like to focus on a player’s own games and try to teach him what to think about and how to come up with ideas that their opponent may have missed.  After all chess is basically about out-thinking your opponent or about matching your level of understanding against your opponent’s level of understanding.  A good player should be able to look at a position and quickly work out what is going on – what is important and what is not important in that position.  If he is in trouble he must be able to come up with possible solutions (ideas) and test them out.  That’s why chess puzzles are such good training (and fun!).

For this week’s puzzle I’ve chosen a position which looks totally unwinnable, but perhaps you can come up with something?  Good luck.

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