An Unexpected Conundrum

Hugh’s great post on Saturday reminded me of an unexpected conundrum that has arisen. My son has now started playing in adult tournaments and when he’s a bit older I think that I might play as well. Until now I’ve just been there to look after him between rounds.

The problem is that although my teaching approach focuses firmly on the classics, I play in a way that is totally unsuitable for children, and I don’t want to provide him with a poor chess role model. In recent years I’ve relied heavily on Flank Openings to throw my opponents on their own resources and test their strategic and improvisational abilities, and with some success. Since 2000 my results with 1.g3 have a performance rating of 2635 whilst with 1.e4 I managed only 2454. The only other opening move I did well with was 1.c4, which again is quite unsuitable for kids.

So what can I do? Several other possibilities occur to me.

First of all I could rely on the fact that my son will probably be playing whilst I wheel out some sneaky Flank Opening, though I suspect that sooner or later I’ll be caught out. He might also start getting interested in looking at my games, especially if we go through his.

Another possibility is that I could simply get used to getting worse results by giving my opponents things they will understand. This too seems rather unsatisfactory not least because we could do with a bit of prize money to offset the expenses. Not to mention the pain of wounded pride.

So this leaves the most difficult option, to change in a way that will bring decent results whilst not putting too many bishops on g2. I was playing this when I was going for the GM title but it needed more maintenance than my Flank Openings approach. But it’s all in a good cause.

The following game features lots of things that an 11 year old can understand such as occupying the center, exchanging off defenders, levering open files and lifting rooks. The only problem is that it was played over 20 years ago, but I will be trying to claw it back!

Nigel Davies

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About NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in Southport in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Besides teaching chess, Nigel is a registered tai chi and qigong instructor and runs several weekly classes.