Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tyler Avila Simul

For the Integrating Chess and Critical Thinking Class, I require a grandmaster project.  This is the third quarter that Tyler Avila has taken the class and it would be the third grandmaster project for Tyler.  But, Tyler asked me if he could prepare for a simul with the class as an alternative.  Being a responsive teacher and desiring students that take control of their education, I couldn't refuse.  A simul is a tournament where one player simultaneously plays a number of players at the same time.  Grandmasters typically play these exhibitions to demonstrate their chess prowess and skills.

In fact, I wish more students did this type of reflection on their education.  Megan Jones avoids my workbook problems like the plague, but she finally shared with me that she completes the problems of the day, almost every day.  Since the class started she completed 81 problems!  She is a senior and now hooked on chess and I found out that she plays OTB and on the computer nearly every day, now.  Her game has greatly improved since she started with this class, so I offered to use these problems in lieu of the workbook credit.  Isn't this what education is all about?  Helping students discover something new and then allowing them the opportunity level up in a variety of ways?

Tyler studied some books, watched videos, and played an enormous amount of blitz chess in preparation for Tuesdays simul.  He arrived in my room with a serious but nervous look.  His chess confidence greatly improved this year, but as twelve students began to assume their positions, I detected a bit of regret at his project choice.  I almost told him to take his coat off to relax a bit, but he was anxious to begin.
The Colle-Zuckertort Opening strives to create a strong defense before  attacking.  The attack options include getting the f-knight to e5 or advancing a pawn down the c-file.
As I prepped the students, Tyler stood quietly in the front of the room and then began moving counter-clockwise (interesting observation as all other simuls I have seen the contestants moving clockwise? Is Tyler a "lefty?"), shaking hands and then playing 1. d4.    I was immediately surprised as I expected him to play the Scotch opening based on prior conversations and also the chapter he studied on the Scotch Gambit.  I knew he was going to attempt the Colle-Zuckertort System when I saw his first move on each of the boards.

The Scotch Gambit

The Colle-Zuckertort

Tyler's favorite chess video:

Can you find a royal fork?
As the games progressed, I could see the wrinkle between his brows furl.  I am sure he thought, "what have I gotten myself into?"  He found some wonderful forks in some games, however, I also saw him sacrifice in desperation in others.  In two games he lost to the dreaded long bishop, sheltered and camouflaged by pawns, aiming at h2 while his opponent secretly slipped their queen onto a square to attack the h2 square from another location.

Black offered a queen exchange, 1.  ..Qh6.  Tyler declined and moved  Qe2-Qc2??  Black earned  a win with Qxh2.  
Afterwards he commented that "it became so confusing to remember plans for each of the games."  He ended the simul with 6 wins and 6 losses.  A very respectable result.  I am going to have him annotate a game this next week to complete the work. 

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