Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NY City Public Schools Chess Tournaments and Online Lessons

For a change of pace we recently entered the kids into a NY Public School chess tournament run by NY Chess Kids. I had heard that the NY City players were stronger and they definitely were. Richie had to enter the Primary section because his rating exceeded the 500 maximum for K-1. So he and Alyssa actually played in the same section. Alyssa went winless while Richie scored 1.5/4.0. His win was against a very inexperienced player though, and he lost to all players with an established rating (even those much lower than his). Credit to the NY chess programs. They really do a good job of teaching the kids. Overall I feel that Richie, in particular, will benefit from playing up out of the K section. There's a very big difference between playing someone with less than a few months experience and playing someone whit a year or more experience. From a learning perspective the former is almost a zero value experience. So at the risk of letting him get a little discouraged, I am going to start putting Richie into tournaments where he has a chance to play players stronger than him more often. The upcoming NJ state championship will probably be an exception. Based on last year's turnout, I am going to guess that Richie will be among the top rated Kindergarteners in the tournament.

We are looking into taking online lessons from one of the instructors from NY Chess Kids. I will post more about that if it happens. We had one demo and it was conducted online using Adobe conferencing. It was very well run and quite nice. I was able to log in from work to observe while the kids had web-cam set-ups and could see the instructor while watching. I'm convinced that online lessons are actually more efficient than in person lessons for several reasons, some obvious and some not so obvious.

The most obvious reason is that material can be presented much more quickly. Tactics puzzles can be prepared in advance, for instance, and do not require time to set up on the board. Use of arrows, highlights, quickly reviewing variations, etc. all help kids absorb information quickly. Kids are naturally visual learners so the more "pictures" that are associated with verbal words of advice, the better. Whole games can be run through quickly, and without errors, and games can be played and recorded so that they can be immediately reviewed.

The less obvious reason is that for some reason, kids pay more attention in front of the computer. Maybe they're used to television or video games, but they aren't as easily distracted and tend to focus more on the lesson. In person, there is more tendency to lolligag, play with objects nearby, wander away, and so on. In chess clubs, they get distracted by the other kids and have to spend time setting up boards to play, and so on.

So I'm optimistic that this will be a great way to learn the game and am looking forward to starting them up with regular lessons soon.

1 comment:

Rebecca t said...

I recently moved to nyc as a grad student at the New School studying public policy. I am an avid chess player and great teacher. I work a lot with all types of children and have taught many young children improve their chess capabilities. If anyone knows where I can find a place to teach please email me



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