Sunday, January 27, 2008

73rd ACTA Scholastic Chess Tournament

We had our 2nd chess tournament, the New Canaan City Championship, this weekend. It drew a slightly larger player pool than the last one we went to so Kindergarten had 7 players and 1st had 13 players, I think. Alyssa ended up getting 2.0/5.0 pts which put her in 8th place. She enjoyed herself, but had more fun running up and down a sloped hallway than actually playing. (After commenting that she was a pretty fast runner, she proudly revealed that she's the 2nd fastest runner in her class, which is something I never knew). Her confidence is growing over the board and I think it shows in her result. The 1st and 2nd place winners were two twin girls which was sort of interesting.

Richie surprised us again by scoring 4.5/5.0 pts in the Kindergarten section which tied him for first place. The other champion was none other than Julian Wang. The draw against Julian was especially surprising because I had watched them play 3 or 4 fast games in the waiting room and Julian won all of them easily. Apparently in the tournament game, Julian blundered his queen early but must have played strongly from there to reach a bishop vs. bishop ending which was declared a draw. Julian was a little unhappy with the result for awhile but they were all smiles when they received their trophies.

As I watched their practice game, I noted a few things about his game that I consider to be still undeveloped in Richie. The first was a willingness to put pawns/pieces en pris when the exchange was deemed to be favorable. For example, he often advanced his Queen pawn into the center whereas Richie would tend to move his pawn to d3 instead of d4 if the opponent was already on e5. Secondly, he plays an active, attacking style where he purposely sets up mate threats or forks and pins. Richie is aware of these tactical techniques but generally finds them by accident over the board, rather than planning 2 moves ahead to reach a position where he can employ the tactic. He is also much more inclined to move his pieces into the opposing side's territory, where Richie tends to keep his pieces back in safety. As a generality I would say that Julian is attempting to force mistakes more (e.g. trapping), where Richie generally capitalizes on unforced errors. I think there's a significant gap in strategic and tactical awareness there so I am guessing that their draw was a fluke.

Today I tried to show Richie & Alyssa a game from Logical Chess Move By Move. The example was the Guico Piano which Richie had never seen. Shortly afterwards, I saw him playing a game with Dee and he used the idea of advancing the pawn to c3 to set up the d4 advance. He also used a tactic of moving his queen to g3 to attack the g7 pawn and eventually ended up with a mate in 1 opportunity that he overlooked. Interestingly the mate was exactly like the Scholar's mate, but even after I mentioned that he had a mate in one the board, he was unable to see it because the King was in a slightly different position. Nevertheless, it was pretty neat to see him applying ideas that I taught him just a day or two ago to his own games already.

I realize that since their first recorded game just a few months ago, both Richie and Alyssa have come a long way. I will try to record and post another game soon. It really is night and day and will make an interesting comparison to that game, I'm sure.

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