Saturday, September 25, 2010

10th Annual Chess-In-The-Parks

Richie played in the 10th Annual Chess-In-The-Parks event this weekend. This is an annual outdoors quick chess tournament. Before I go further I have to offer kudos to chess-director-extraordinaire Shaun Smith at Chess-in-the-Schools and his team for putting on a splendid event under challenging conditions. Several hundred players participated in five sections, I think. Richie played in the Intermediate section which boasted over 80 players (both youth and adults) rated from 1000 to around 1300. It's a credit to Shaun and his team that he is able to consistently deliver high quality chess tournaments (which are free to enter due to the generosity of the CIS foundation) that run smoothly and efficiently. This event was no exception. New York scholastic players are certainly lucky for the opportunity to play in his nearly 30 events per scholastic year.

This particular tournament was a G/10 format which is slightly unusual time control because at 10 minutes per side it's not pace that anyone really practices often. It seems that most players are used to either blitz or slow chess, but this in-between time control (which is even shorter than the popular 15-minute ICC time control) seems a little odd.

Nevertheless, I had a suspicion that Richie would be in his element at this speed since quite honestly I think he plays at nearly full strength in his G/15 games (that's not really a good thing), except he plays them a touch too fast, making G/10 practically ideal. It's a very natural playing rhythm for him (whereas I think at five minutes the quality suffers quite a bit).

One nice thing about a 10-20 minute game (total) is that you can actually watch it and try to figure out what moves you would make so it's an ideal "spectator" speed.

Have a look at this final round game to see what I mean. I haven't analyzed it in depth, but while watching it live, I was really challenged to find the "right" moves and plans throughout the game and impressed by both players. Though this final game wasn't for a big prize or even for a high placing, it was exciting nonetheless and features several swings in momentum, which ultimately went Richie's way. I thought Richie did a good job in this game and at the tournament in general in searching for "even better" moves and remaining defensively vigilant. I would characterize his play as "creatively aggressive" and that seemed to be enough to win against most of the players in the class and time-control. (Of course that can tend to backfire at a slower time control when opponents have more time to work out the tactical nuances of the position better).

It's been about two years since the last video I posted, so it's interesting to see how much has changed in the interim.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Richie on the Rise

Richie has been scoring well in his recent tournaments, bringing his rating up to around 1200. Interestingly it had fallen to around 1000, after incorporating some different openings into his play. We spent most of our effort over the summer in understanding middle game concepts better and actually did almost no tactics practice. The shift in focus seems to have taken awhile to adjust to but it seems that he's gradually assimilating the new knowledge.

Interestingly, when I ask if he thinks about the concepts we've studied during his games he says he's "not sure" which indicates that at this age (nearly 7) there is still not much of an "internal dialogue" going on in his mind about longer term plans or positional considerations. His move choices are largely based on direct calculation of lines or some kind of application of rules/guidelines that he's internalized to a subconscious level.

As a side benefit of our studies over the summer, I seem to have improved around 150 points or so on ICC at blitz. Since I went many years without any significant blitz improvement I can only speculate the recent studies were directly responsible for the improvement.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Local Chess Club in Norwalk, CT.

Players from the Fairfield County Chess Club meet at Barnes & Nobles in Norwalk on Wednesdays and Fridays. Richie and I have been going periodically for speed chess and bughouse. For younger (and weaker) players its a little more accessible than some of the other meet-ups in the area because there are usually 2-4 scholastic players present. It's a fun group so I hope it continues to meet through the school year since Richie really enjoys going.

I think his recent play at speed chess has improved a little. Last weekend he tied (with me!) for 1st in the FCCC speed chess open for U1600 ahead of a bunch of higher rated players. He even scalped a 1900(!) player so I think that's a personal best. Of course blitz and slow chess are totally different, but it was nice confidence boost for him nevertheless.
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