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Typical Errors in Children’s Games

I was watching a game between two young girls, both fairly good players for their age, at Richmond Junior Club yesterday.

As I reached their board the position, in its essentials, looked something like this:

I watched White playing Qxf7+. As soon as she saw the check Black picked up her king and moved it to its only legal square, h8. Now White noticed she had a passed pawn so moved it from c6 to c7. Black now spotted that the white queen was en prise and captured it with her queen. But it was too late: White was promoting a pawn and soon won the game.

In this short sequence we see several errors which are very typical of the play of children at this level.

White sees what she thinks is a good move and jumps at the opportunity to play it without checking whether or not it’s safe. Backward diagonal moves are often the hardest to see, and here White’s move could and should have thrown away the win.

Black does what so many children do when then they hear their opponent announce ‘check’. She picks up her king without stopping to look whether there’s a better way to get out of check, such as blocking or, even better, capturing. This is an automatic reaction: my king’s in danger so I’d better move it. It’s something children really have to get out of, the sooner the better.

Then White reacts to the first thing she notices – the passed pawn on c7. She doesn’t notice that she has a very simple checkmate in one move, or that she can capture her opponent’s queen. When you see a good move, look for a better move rather than playing it straight away. Use a CCTV to look at the chessboard: look for Checks (for both players), Captures (for both players) and Threats (for both players) in that order and you will be rewarded with Victory. In this case White happened to notice a Threat before she looked for Checks (one of which was checkmate) and captures (one of which won a free queen).

At this point, though, it doesn’t matter. Black now notices that she can take the queen on f7, but White promotes and Her Majesty makes a quick reappearance.

A few lessons to learn:

Don’t jump at the first move you see that looks good. Make sure it’s safe, and stop to see whether there’s a better move.

Don’t automatically pick up your king when your opponent says ‘check’. It’s sometimes better, especially early in the game, to block the check. It’s often better still if you can capture the piece that’s checking you safely.

Watch out for backward diagonal moves: they’re often the easiest moves to miss.

Most chess games are not won by playing good moves: they’re lost by playing bad moves. Ensuring you’re not making a mistake is, at this level, the most important chess skill of all.

One of the things I explain to my pupils is that one way (and there are many others) in which I’m different from other teachers is that most teachers teach you to play good moves: I teach you not to play bad moves.

Richard James

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Pushing too Hard

Coaching junior chess teams, I take a group of young, often free spirited, individuals and mold them into a cohesive unit. I say “unit” because a chess team is just that, a team. Many people don’t think about members of a chess team working together the way in which a soccer or football team works together. After all, if you have three stellar players on a five man chess squad and you’ll probably do well. This is often untrue, at least in my play book! As I say to my team’s best players, “you’re only as good as the weakest member of your team.” In fact, with the chess teams I coach, it’s mandatory that the strongest players tutor the weakest players. Often, the top two team members will work extensively with the the players on the bottom rungs of the ladder of playing strength. This helps improve the game of the weaker player as well as reinforcing the knowledge already acquired by the stronger players.

You might say that I, the chess coach, should be the one doing all the work when it comes to improving the skills of a weaker team member. However, I’ve found that younger players can often provide explanations to their teammates that make more sense to the younger mind because, even as young at heart as I am, I don’t fluently speak teenager! The point here is simple, everyone on the team teaches and everyone, including myself, learns by doing so!

By working together, we act as a team. Too often, with various types of teams, be they soccer or baseball, certain players stand above the others because they’re amazingly talented. The rest of team supports them on the field and they win games. However, if the star player becomes injured and can’t play, how good is the team now? I try to avoid this problem by constantly working to strengthen everyone’s skills. As the old saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and this holds true for my chess teams.

When preparing for competition, we put in a lot of extra work outside of our normal sessions. My students push themselves. It should be noted that I don’t have to push them because I’ve taught them to challenge themselves and that means having to work hard. I recently watched a documentary about children in competitive sports and the lengths their coaches and parents go to force them to perform. In the case of junior football, coaches were making the children they train run until they literally threw up, claiming it was a sound method for teaching the art of facing challenges. I thought it was bordering on child abuse. If a parent forced their child to run until that child became violently ill, the child would be taken from the parent. Yet in youth football, this form of training is commonplace.

I run an intense coaching program and if you see the long hours my teams put in, you’d wonder how the children do it. My coaching program includes physical and mental exercise. I’m slowly introducing Tai Chi into the mix but the primary exercise is basketball. I have my students play for 30-45 minutes before sitting down at the chessboard. I ask every new group I coach if they’d consider doing something physical before the training sessions start. I explain that the brain functions at a higher level if we introduce a greater flow of oxygen into our bodies. This translates, in their minds, as “more oxygen, better chess playing.” My students gladly volunteer for the physical workout. Basketball, also gives teammates a chance to bond with one another, which is important when working together as members of a chess team.

I don’t make my students do anything they don’t want to do (or I wouldn’t do) because kids can be stubborn when they don’t like something (and so can I). Instead, I plant an idea in their minds and help them connect the dots, so to speak. We eat well at practice, avoiding processed foods, sticking with fruit and water. While kids love junk food, my students know that food feeds the brain and if you’re going to play well at chess tournaments, you want to feed your brain with only the healthiest food. Again, I plant the idea in their minds and they come to the correct conclusion.

I noticed while watching the above mentioned documentary, that both coaches and parents (especially parents) were setting a dreadful example for their children. Both the parents and coaches of nearly every team told their children that they were to “win at all costs,” including illegal hits (in the case of junior football). My chess teams can be cold and calculated killers on the chessboard without having to resort to any dirty tricks. Anyone who has watch junior players at a tournament have seen kicking an opponent under the table or taunting an opponent verbally while the arbiter is elsewhere. We don’t do that and doing so is an immediate suspension from the team.

Bad sportsmanship is something children see in youth sports leagues. Children learn how to function in life by watching the actions of adults. When a coach or parent behaves badly, many children think this behavior is acceptable. I have many friends whose children are involved in youth sports and have witness horrible behavior by parents and coaches, including fist fights between parents. As a coach or parent, it is up to you to set a good example for your children. I teach the students on my teams that the best weapon against an opponent’s bad behavior is good behavior no matter what. If you behave badly in response to an opponent behaving badly, things get worse and worse. If you simply ignore the taunt and maintain a level of coolness, the person behaving badly looks foolish. Rule one, regarding an opponent or parent behaving badly at a tournament; call the arbiter over and then your coach. Do not engage in a war of words. Ignore the verbal taunts. Be the better person!

I enjoy football and have learned a lot about tournament preparation from a former San Francisco 49ers coach, John Madden. He was one of the first NFL coaches to scientifically study the games of other teams prior to playing them. I do the same with our chess teams. We compile a database of games played by the opposition’s team members and look for weaknesses. Often, we find that junior players tend to fall into two categories, opening specialist and tactical wizard (both at junior level of course). The opening specialist is very good at gaining an advantage in the opening but often falls short during the middle and endgames (if they even get into an endgame). I teach my students who are not as strong in the opening to simply play to maintain equality. By this, I mean that my students should avoid trying to outplay their opponent, who has better opening skills, and only try to keep central control of the board balanced.

Many of the students who are supposedly good opening technicians have been taught a bunch of opening variations by their coaches and committed those variations to memory. Memorizing openings and knowing the underlying mechanics are two different things completely. While an out of book move might throw these junior opening wizards off completely, my students avoid taking this chance and opt for equalization instead. Sound use of opening principles and their mechanics trumps all.

With junior tacticians, those who excel at tactical play, I advise my students to play openings that lead towards a closed game. Junior level tactical play normally requires an extremely open board and by closing the position, you take away the opposition’s ability to gain the material upper hand via forks, pins and skewers (favorites of the junior set).

Of course, there’s always someone on the other team that attempts the fast checkmate which is why we prepare counter measures for every junior level fast mating attempt. Tricks and traps are popular at a junior level. I don’t teach traps except when demonstrating how to deal with them. My teams don’t employ tricks and traps because when they go wrong they go terribly wrong. We know how to deal with tricksters!

By examining the games of the opposition, we’re preparing ourselves for what lies ahead on the day of the tournament. I have my students do the first round of playing through the opposition’s games on their own. Only after they have spent time trying to discover any weaknesses or opposition advantages do I step in to see if they missed anything. I want them to do the work and learn in the process of doing so.

Kids should be allowed to be kids which means not pushing them too much but rather teaching them to push themselves (within reason). We, the adults, are a direct influence on how they behave so we need to monitor our own behavior. Any team activity should be fun and exciting not comparable to spending time with a military drill instructor. Kids will challenge themselves and do a better job of it when adults aren’t yelling at them in the background. My students have a great track record at tournaments and I don’t have to yell or make them run laps around the building until they’re physically sick. Give a student a good reason for doing something and they’re likely to do it. Employ kindness rather than sternness when coaching and you’ll get better results. Don’t push too hard! Here’s a game to enjoy until next week!

Hugh Patterson

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Kids and Chess, Part Two

In a previous article, I posted my loss to a thirteen-year-old girl named Sara Herman. I have decided to find all of my games on  this chess blog in which I played a kid (someone under 21 years of age) and put the links to them on this page. Then, I will add another game in  which I played a kid.

Here is my game against Sara’s sister, Rebecca.

Here are my losses to Sara’s brother, Daniel:

Here is my loss to Omry Tannus.

Here is my loss to Roshan Jayaraman. I a game against a life master, Roshan spent about ten minutes analyzing a position that was a rather closed endgame. It took me about 30 seconds to find the moves that Roshan missed. Once I identified the key squares and diagonal that White needed to con troll the  I knew the moves that White needed to play and there was non need to analyze any further. Roshan did not know the theory and therefore his misanalysed the position. The position can be found here.
Old Age and Treachery

Roshan Jayaraman is the kid on the right in this photograph.

A more detailed analysis of this game, with my commentary, can be found here.

Mike Serovey

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My Turn to Lunge

Still strumming my harp on the Caissic theme of lunging, the premature unbuckling of the position to the detriment of the lunger, I offer this game from a few weeks ago. This time I am the lunger.

In the diagrammed position, I opened the center with 14. d4 ? thinking to free my game. Instead, I freed my opponent’s game and dissolved all the tension created in the position by the opponent’s prior lunging at me with 10… g5!?

Better was simply 14. Qd2 connecting the rooks and preparing to bring them towards the center files as appropriate.

Instead, the game petered out into what my opponent felt was a dull draw.

Jacques Delaguerre

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Did I Lose on the Board?


This position is taken from the last round of my most recent tournament. It was must win situation for me because of a slightly strange rule that White has to win because a draw would count as a Black win! To decide the colors you just need to toss a coin and unfortunately I got the White pieces.

It was obvious to me that the game is draw so I was just not interested and was moving pieces with my hands!

1. h5??

The two questions marks are because the move was made without any further calculation. Actually it is not blunder but in fact it gives White some practical chances.

1…Kg5

The obvious reply.

2.b4 b6 3.b5 Kxh5

I resigned after 2 further moves.

What was it that I missed?

I missed that after Kxh5? the game is still draw and that careful play is required by Black!!
Amazingly I missed:

4. Kf4 Kg6

The only move because if 4…g6 then 5.f3 is winning and if 4…g5 then Kxf5 is winning for White.

5.Ke5 Kg5

5…h5 can be met by f4 and Black can’t win.

6.Kd6

Now it is Black who needs to be careful to hold the game.

So I was not lost on the board but it was already lost in my mind.

This is a common issue to be addressed for many people including me. After making a mistake very few of us try hard to save the game. The question is not that we can’t save it but before resigning on the board we have already surrendered inside, which might result in multiplying our mistakes. This should not be the case.

After this game I was not able to sleep as this was not the first time this had happened. So I have to work very concretely in order to overcome the problem. Here is a solution which might work for me and you too that is not very hard to do: When you feel that you made a mistake then just don’t react automatically but give yourself some time and look at the board with fresh eyes. Perhaps you might be able to save some games.

Apart from this after White’s accidental h5 :) the position becomes a really interesting and dynamic one and worth studying deeply. At first even the engine shows that Black is winning after …Kxh5 but it is far from the truth.

Ashvin Chauhan

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Minority Interests (5)

To complete this series, a game which is possibly the best anti-Minority Attack game I have ever seen. Kasparov puts on a veritable master-class. Note many of the themes we have already seen, such as using d6 as a knight outpost. Most striking of all is how Kasparov exchanges queens in the middle of his kingside attack, realising that his play on that wing is also a deadly a positional plan, involving the undermining of the white pawn structure. Nimzowitsch would have loved the game!
You can find this game, with much more extensive notes, in my book “50 Essential Chess Lessons”.

Steve Giddins

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King and Pawn Endings are Difficult

The solution to last Monday’s problem is that White draws with 1. Kb7!

If Black replies with a5, White continues with 2. Kxc7 a4 3. Kd6 a3 4. f7! and White queens his pawn.

In this week’s problem, White has to play and win.

It is quite difficult. One difficulty is that when White promote his c-pawn, Black will be left with a pawn on the rook’s file. Generally, that is a draw as the best White can usually do is stalemate the king in the corner of the board.

But in this particular example, White can eventually deliver checkmate.

How does White win?

Steven Carr

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Adventures with 1… e5 (8)

My first game of 2016 was for Richmond B against Hounslow A. While my team tends to vary a lot, Hounslow had fielded the same three players in the same order on their top boards all season. I knew I was on board 3 so I was expecting to play an old friend, the Thames Valley League President, David White, who is rated slightly below me.

David’s openings are predictable. He meets 1. e4 with the Sicilian Dragon and 1. d4 with the Benko Gambit. With his name-matching colour he opens 1. e4, playing 2. c3 against the Silician and the King’s Gambit against 1. e4. As he occasionally plays in rated tournaments I was able to find several of his games on my database.

In the past I’ve always met the King’s Gambit with 2… Bc5 (four games between 1988 and 1992) but I’ve tried various things online, most often the little-known 1. e4 e5 2. f4 Nc6 3. Nf3 f5.

I’d read John Shaw’s monumental work on the opening fairly recently, though, so had some knowledge of 3… g5. The line David preferred seemed to lead to Black’s advantage so, when I was awarded the black pieces I decided to give it a try.

1. e4 e5
2. f4 exf4
3. Nf3 g5
4. h4

The usual move, of course, but, according to Shaw, Black can obtain easy equality. Instead he recommends the much less popular 4. Nc3 as White’s only serious try for an advantage.

4… g4
5. Ne5

The Kieseritzky Gambit. 5. Ng5, the Allgaier Gambit, is not to be recommended against a well-prepared opponent.

5… d6

Nf6 is a more complicated alternative. My choice returns the pawn for an active position.

6. Nxg4 Nf6
7. Nxf6+ Qxf6
8. Nc3 Nc6
9. Bb5

9. Nd5 is met by 9… Qg6 10. d3 (Qf3 runs into Nd4) 10… Qg3+ 11. Kd2 Nb4 and if White goes after the rook Black has a perpetual.

9…Kd8

9… a6 was the old move, when, for example, Short-Shirov (Las Vegas 1999) was drawn. Black’s king is going to live in the centre anyway, and d8 has some advantages over e8, so this looks like a slight improvement.

10. Bxc6 bxc6
11. Qf3 Rg8
12. d3 Bh6
13. Ne2

This is virtually a losing move. According to Shaw, White’s only sensible move is 13. Qf2 when he analyses 13… Rb8, when an exchange sacrifice on b2 is looming, although he tells us that Bg4 is also possible. An example featuring an up-and-coming teenager: 13. Qf2 Rb8 14. Rxb2 15. Bxb2 Qxb2 16. O-O Qxc2 17. Nxf4 Qxf2+ 1/2-1/2 (A Fedorov – M Carlsen Dubai 2004) as after 18. Rxf2 Bg7 Black is winning back the exchange. I also note with interest: 13. Qf2 Rb8 14. Nd1 (preventing the exchange sac) 14… Rg3 15. O-O Qg6 16. Bxf4 Bxf4 17. Qxf4 Rxg2+ 18. Kh1 Rg4 19. Qf6+ Qxf6 20. Rxf6 Rxh4+ 21. Kg2 Ke7 22. Rf3 Bg4 23. Rf4 Rg8 24. Kf2 Rh1 0-1 (G Bucher – M Goodger British Championship Canterbury 2010)

13… Bg4
14. Qf2 Bxe2
15. Kxe2 Kd7

Here I finally deviate from one of the games I’d come across that afternoon when preparing for this encounter. D White – G Bucher (Sunningdale 2013) concluded 15… Rg4 16. c3 Qg6 17. Rh2 f5 18. h5 Qe6 19. Qd4 fxe4 20. Qh8+ Rg8 21. Qxh7 f3+ 22. Kf2 e3+ 23. Kf1 e2+ 24. Ke1 f2+ 0-1 Grant Bucher had clearly learnt something from his loss against Martyn Goodger three years earlier and had wisely switched to the black pieces. Either move leaves White (name or colour) with a difficult position.

16. c3

16. Rh3 Rg4 17. c3 Rag8 18. Rh2 Qe5 19. Kf1 f3 20. gxf3 Rg1+ 21. Qxg1 Rxg1+ 22. Kxg1 Qg3+ 0-1 (G Ricca – P Van Hoolandt Imperia 2007) was no improvement.

16… Rg4

Good, but Rh3 might have been even better.

17. Bd2 Rag8
18. Rag1 c5

At this point I noticed that my a-pawn was en prise and played this just to be on the safe side. 18… Qe6 was better, though.

19. Kf1 Rg3
20. Rh3 R8g4

Throwing away most of my advantage. Instead: 20… Qe6 21. Rxg3 fxg3 22. Qe1 Bxd2 23. Qxd2 f5 and White’s king will be fatally exposed.

21. d4

21. Rxg3 Rxg3 22. d4 keeps White in the game.

21… cxd4

Releasing the pressure again. As always I was getting too nervous in a winning position. 21… Qg6 should have been preferred: for instance 22. dxc5 Qxe4 23. cxd6 f3 24. Rxg3 Qd3+ 25. Ke1 Qb1+ with mate to follow.

22. cxd4

22. Rxg3 Rxg3 23. Qxd4 Qxd4 24. cxd4 gives Black an endgame advantage, but David’s choice in the game just loses.

22… Qe6
23. Qe2 f3

This felt right at the time, and my instincts were correct.

24. Qb5+ Ke7
25. Rxg3 Rxg3
26. Bxh6

26. Kf2 is the last chance, when I’d have to find 26… Qg4 27. Bg5+ (27. Bxh6 Qxh4 28. Kf1 Qxh6) 27… f6 28. Qc4 Rxg2+ (careful not to allow White a perpetual) 29. Rxg2 Qxg2+ 30. Ke3 Qe2+ 31. Qxe2 fxe2 32. Kxe2 fxg5 33. hxg5 Bxg5 with an extra piece in the ending.

26… Qxh6
27. Qc4 Qf4

Covering d6 as well as threatening a deadly discovered check.

28. Qxc7+ Kf8
29. e5 fxg2+
30. Ke1 Qe3+
31. Kd1 Qxg1+
32. Kc2 Qf2+
and White resigned

Richard James

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When Trouble Comes Knocking

Inevitably, there comes point in every chess player’s career, be they beginner or professional, when they find themselves in trouble on the chessboard. Beginners find themselves in continual trouble as they learn the game but that trouble eventually becomes less frequent as they improve. I’ve had students remark that they get into trouble because they’re still learning the nuances of the game. I remind them that even the world’s top players can fall victim to problems during their games. It’s how you handle those problems that counts. The more playing experience you have, the more likely you are to avoid trouble before it happens and if you do find yourself in trouble, the more likely you are to deal with it successfully.

As you improve, you make better moves based on sound planning and avoid the problems that come with making bad moves based on poor planning. However, you can still fall victim to a troublesome position in which you are at a disadvantage that could cost you the game. Maybe you miscalculated, missing a potential opposition move that sends your position into turmoil. The beginner will panic while becoming overwhelmed by the dark cloud of defeat, often giving up before trying to fight back. Always try to find a solution when faced with a problem.

I have my beginning students finish their games no matter how bad the position. With more advanced students, I teach the fine art of resignation, but only if the position is hopeless. Beginners tend to get into trouble very early on due to a lack of opening and middle game skills. Most beginner’s games conclude before the endgame starts.

It’s easy enough to get my students to apply the opening principles, having a pawn control a central square, the development of minor pieces towards the center and early castling. However, when it comes to exchanging material, things go south quickly! To avoid being on the losing end of an exchange, we assign dollar figures to the pieces rather than a relative point value. My students have a fondness for money and when they’re thinking about exchanges of material in financial terms then tend to make better decisions. You wouldn’t trade a $9.00 Queen for a $3.00 Knight or Bishop or worse yet, a $1.00 pawn. It’s simple Chessonomics! Don’t trade down unless doing so wins the game!

Let’s say that you, our intrepid beginner, make a bad trade in the opening. Rather than panic, examine the position. Look at the opposition pawns and pieces, then look at yours. Make sure your opponent’s pawns and pieces are not in a position to do further damage, such as capturing any hanging or unprotected material belonging to you. Then look at the activity of your minor pieces. Are they well placed, aimed towards the board’s center. Look to see if your opponent’s damaging capture on their last move left them vulnerable to a potential tactic such as a fork, pin or skewer. The point here is that you should look to see if that last opposition move left any weaknesses. Many times, a beginner will grab a valuable piece of material from their opponent only to have that opponent come back with an even deadlier attack. Always look before panicking. When you panic your brain tends to focus on the emotional aspects of the problem at hand rather than the practical issues, such as how to get out of trouble.

With beginners, the loss of the Queen (which is why you don’t bring her out early) extinguishes any thoughts of winning the game. However, this isn’t always the case! A beginner who snatches his or her opponent’s Queen from the board often becomes a bit relaxed in their strategic thinking. After all, they just took your most powerful weapon away from you. This can give you a needed opportunity to strike back but you have to carefully assess the situation. The key again, is to not panic and look for ways to equalize. Look to see if you can reduce the dollar amount you just lost! If your opponent uses a Rook ($5.00) to capture your Queen ($9.00) and you can capture that Rook with a pawn or piece (assuming you won’t lose that pawn or piece as well), capture the Rook. Then the loss becomes less. Instead of losing an entire $9.00, you reduce your loss to $4.00. I’d rather lose $4.00 than $9.00.

When beginners attack they often do so in a haphazard manner, leaving weaknesses in their position. In the case above, look at the position and see if there are any weak spots in the opposition’s defenses. If you can’t find any and you’re down in material, build up your own defenses around your King. Position pawns and pieces in a way that makes it extremely difficult for your opponent to launch an attack. Beginners will often give up a great deal of material trying to break through to your King which could restore the balance from a dollar and cents standpoint.

Play for the draw if you opponent has the material advantage, especially when playing beginners. All too often, I see one student with a lone King and the other student with an overwhelming number of pieces left on the board. Beginners don’t understand the dangers of stalemate when they have too much material. They carefully arrange their major and minor pieces around the enemy King and when it’s the Kings turn to move, he has no place to go and the game ends in stalemate. Again, rather than panic when faced with an overwhelming force, try to keep your King away from the edges of the board and force a stalemate. Drawing a game is better than losing it. Of course, you should always play to win but sometimes a draw is the best you can do.

Endgame play is the hardest phase for the beginner because they simply don’t play enough of them early on in their chess careers. If you’re the player with a lone King against an opposition King and pawn, rather than submitting to defeat, play for a possible draw. Of course, if you’re playing an experienced opponent, that opponent will know how to promote the pawn properly. If your opponent moves the pawn first, so their King is behind the pawn as it works its way towards the promotion square, you can end up with a stalemate. Most beginners don’t know about King opposition and keeping his majesty in front of the pawn attempting to promote.

The idea of this article is to force you to look at troubled positions logically before throwing in the towel and giving up. When beginners play beginners, seemingly devastating attacks are too often flawed. By examining a position closely and logically, you sometimes find that things aren’t as dark as they seem. You will learn a lot more about this great game if you at least attempt to work through your positional troubles. By looking at a bad position and trying to determine a good course of action, you’ll become a much better player, even if you lose. Have faith in yourself and don’t simply give up without a fight! Here’s a game to enjoy until next week!

Hugh Patterson

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Kids and Chess, Part One

A few years ago one of the chess coaches in the Tampa area had an annoying habit of telling his students that I hated little kids. Because I got tired of that, I decided to make a sarcastic reply if I heard him say that again. He did during one of his group lessons, so I replied with, “Actually, they taste quite good with a little peanut oil and basil”! I got a laugh from that. So, now I am including a few quotes by W. C. Fields about kids.

W. C. Fields quotes about kids

I do not actually hate or eat kids, but I may want them to think that I do! Considering that I have been playing rated chess off and on for 41 years, I really do dislike losing to someone who has been alive less than 20 years! In this case, I lost to someone who has been alive about one third as long as I have been playing chess!

My opponent is this Wednesday night tournament round is a thirteen-year-old girl. Her mother was the TD for this event. I lost the previous round to a gentleman that is older than I am. I told both Sara and her mother, Shirley, that I had a lousy tack record in OTB chess against human females regardless of age or rating. That is true, but I need to correct a few things. Prior to this loss, my last loss in an OTB chess game to a human female was to a 17-year-old Dutch girl who later became the under 21 female champion of the Netherlands. She was not exactly a patzer! Sara, my opponent is this loss, is the number five ranked female of any age in the state of Colorado. Again, not exactly a patzer!

The correction is that I beat and drew Sara’s sister, Rebecca, and I beat some female beginners in Tampa prior to moving to Colorado. However, Sara is one of three teenage girls that I have lost to in OTB chess in the past 20 years or so. Prior to getting out of the US Army in 1986, I never lost an OTB chess game to a human female! Now, that record is shattered.

Also, prior to my discharge from the Army, I rarely lost to a kid that was lower rated than I was. Since then, I have had only one loss to a lower rated kid that I can remember. However, that rating difference was over 800 points! I have also barely escaped losses to lower rated kids on at least two occasions in the past five years.

Across the range of ratings that my opponents have had and the time that I have been playing chess, my losses to kids after I graduated from high school have numbered less than the number of wins against them. However, I do not know the exact numbers.

Mike Serovey

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