I’ve recently been appointed Director of Coaching at the Chess Kids Academy and today was my first session with the students, and the last day of the first term.  I’ve been working hard organising a timetable and subjects for the lessons.

The Academy day starts at 8.30am when the students arrive and play 5 minute challenge games against the coaches.  I managed to win all my lightning games despite being a little out of practice.  We then moved on to our “chess topics” session in which we try to educate the students in some aspect of chess – like, ratings, titles, on-line chess, laws of chess, etc.   I did this presentation and chose to take about “chess titles” so I gave the students a history lesson as to how the title of “World Champion” had evolved over time and how titles such as “grandmaster” and “international master” came about.   We talked about the unofficial world champion Alexandre Deschapelles who lost a hand in the Napoleonic wars and was described as “the best liar in France” and about Alexander Alekhine, the only World Champion to die whilst holding the title.  He was killed by a sausage!   Then I told a story how I persuaded the President of FIDE to create the FM title for Max Fuller (FM = Fuller master) for people who were not of IM standard.  During the talk I asked the students “homework questions” and gave the first person to answer correctly a Lindt chocolate Easter bunny.   For example: “Name the player who has won more Australian Championships than anyone else yet he has never been the best player in Australia.”   This provoked a deathly silence then one wag blurted out “Michael Baron!”   Everyone else burst out laughing.   (The correct answer is Darryl Johansen).  Hopefully it was all a bit of fun for the kids and I got to eat the left-over chocolates!

We then corrected their homework from last week and moved off into the lesson topics with Julia taking one group and Kanan the other.   Julia for instance talked about “The tree of analysis” whilst Kanan was doing “Endgame Tactics”.

The students then broke for lunch.   Next term we are looking at taking them to a nearby park for their lunch break.   Outdoor chess?  After lunch there was a 15 minute puzzle session using 4 puzzles by famed chess columnist Leonard Barden. Then followed the afternoon practical session and this week we played transfer chess.    The winners were Liam and Atlas.   The tournament ended at 3.30 with the students either playing social chess or doing endgame puzzles until they were picked up.   All-in-all a fun day of chess.

Kanan and Julia giving a lesson at the Academy.


For today’s puzzle lets have a look at a spectacular finish to the game Kramnik v Aronian in the Candidates tournament currently in progress in Germany.  It is Black to play and blunder!

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