Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chess Club Practices for Nationals

The last two Wednesdays were "Guess the Next Move" games for the players going to the National High School Championship.  We are practicing as diligently as we can, however, this is the first time any of the players have been to a tournament of this magnitude, excepting Desmond.  As Nick and Andrew are rated above 1200, our team will be entered in the U1600 section.  I was hoping to be in the U1200 section, given our experience and average rating, but this will provide needed challenges and inspiration for these players.  This will be the first high school team from Idaho to compete in the championship and I am looking forward to many positive games and individual successes for all of our players.  Here is the WRHS Chess Club team:
Nick at the MVCC

Desmond at the MVCC

Andrew at the State Scholastics 
Shane at the State Scholastics

Alex at the State Scholastics

Miles at the 2011 Idaho Open
Between fundraising bouts since January, players have been participating in the few tournaments available to us as practice.  We also have been studying the mainlines for various openings including the Caro-Kann, the French Defense, Queen's Gambit, the Scandanavian, the Scotch, the Ponziani, the four knights, and others.  Some players are also focusing on the Colle System and others are trying to master some of the Sicilian games.

Desmond, Miles, and Nick are spending long hours outside of chess club playing on internet servers.  Alex and Shane have been tackling Chess Tempo problems.  My trap book is seeing a lot of use and I have been able to share analysis of weak squares in many games between the players.  And Miles, Desmond, and Shane have been also working on "Think Like a King" software.  I have been providing carefully selected chapters from my workbooks, including "removing the guard" and  one on "perpetual check."  My lessons at this point are seemingly cliche so I have been privy to new instructional ideas, without becoming a tyrant.

Despite the studying, our players games still lack the consistency of more experienced players.  There are still occasional blunders and definite straying outside of book moves (sort of like my explorations of the chess world!).  While learning about the Sicilian Defense, Nick lamented that he needs some more work.  I began my researches and my own education.
Jeff Baggett and his favorite Sicilian Game.
I invited Jeff Baggett (1696), 2011 Idaho Closed 3rd place, to share his knowledge of Sicilian Games.  He selected M. Botvinnik v. V. Ragozin, 1924 (1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6).  We made a game of it, "Guess the Right Move"  where students that guess the next move of black receive a point for a right answer.  It engaged the players fully as there were candy m&m's on the line.  Nick won by one point over me (I like to play too!) and a couple of points above the rest of the club.
Alex and Miles play "Guess the Right Move!"
Last Wednesday, I did the same thing with a game that was more in the style that they might see this weekend:  C. Vellotti vs. C. Abernathy (game #76).  In this game, Caleb's Colle was not enough to stop Carl's powerful bishops.  This was a very good confidence booster as my players felt they could cope with these moves.  They, in fact, found several moves during the game that were better.

Tomorrow, I have a special post for our fund-raising efforts.  Wednesday at 3 a.m. we will start our trek to Nashville and the tournament.  Join this blog during the tournament for pictures and updates and games.  Excitement and nervousness is high, so please comment and provide some encouragement for Idaho's first high school national championship attendee's!

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