Thursday, April 3, 2008

76th ACTA Scholastic Chess Tournament

Richie and Alyssa both recently played in an ACTA chess tournament. We could see that the participants in both the Kindergarten and K-1 sections were relatively inexperienced so we thought it would be a good tournament to reintroduce Alyssa to competitive play. She is sensitive about losses so it was important, I think, for her to gain some confidence. Fortunately, a few players she faced were very inexperienced and she played well enough to score 2.0/4.0 games which was enough for 5th place and a trophy. After her wins she was noticeably more excited about chess which was really all I was hoping for. Richie came in 2nd place and scored 3.0/4.0.

I was especially impressed with both Alyssa and Richie for taking their time in their games. In at least 3 out of the 4 rounds they took almost a full 45 minutes to complete their games and were among the last of the kids to finish. Of course they still made some obvious blunders but I stressed to them that the only important thing I wanted them to try to do at this tournament was play as slowly as possible and to think of as many continuations as possible each move, even if it seemed like a forced line. Of course I didn't phrase it that way to them. Instead I came up with this story: "Imagine that it's Halloween and you are going trick-or-treating. But instead of a big Halloween bag, you only brought a small bag that was so small it could only hold a single piece of candy. So you go to all the trouble of putting on your costume, but you come home with just one little piece of candy. Now let's say that candy was a chocolate bar. What happens if you really wanted a pixie stick. Or maybe you were in the mood for a lollipop. Well tough luck, because you didn't prepare well. Instead of just a little bag, you should bring the biggest bag you can find, and collect as much candy as you can. Then when you want one you have all different types to choose from and you'll get just what you want. Playing chess too fast, without thinking is like trick-or-treating with a little bag instead of a big one. Fill your bag of moves with as many as you can find. The more you look, the more choices you'll have and the better your chance of finding a really fantastic one."

I did manage to get Richie to record the beginning of one of his games using a MonRoi device which I picked up a month ago. See my review. He still made some errors inputting the game and decided in the later rounds that he didn't want to play with it. Here's his first round game.

After their success at this tournament both of them seem a little more interested in playing again, after going to through a period of relative disinterest.

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