Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The chess microbe

After 3 years of lessons in Deurne my 7 year old son switched to Mechelen. It was a tough decision for me but at the same time necessary not to lose his interest in chess. The courses in Deurne were not anymore challenging and the club-management did not succeed to find a solution. The youth work can only survive by the selflessness of volunteers which isn't something you can force. On the other hand I do notice that we lack any flow of our children to adult-chess in Deurne. 10 years ago they started with giving lessons to the youth because they wanted to cope with the ageing club-members (see history). Today the problem is even bigger. An evaluation of youth-chess imposes itself.

In KMSK Hugo gets today step 2+ within a small group with their own teacher. The courses last almost 2 hours (twice as in Deurne) and consist of 1 hour working with a manual and the rest of the time playing chess. In the meantime I help the youth-chess just like I did before in Deurne. If you anyway have to wait then you better do something useful. I assume KMSK must have been delighted with my proposal as they immediately promoted me to teacher for the most advanced players so step 5 and higher.

That was a bit of a shock as I don't have any experience with teaching at that level. Besides I am an autodidact so I can't rely upon examples from previous teachers. Anyway what is meant with step 5 and higher? I noticed the strength of my students was very diverse from 1400 till even 2100 elo. A small questionnaire confirmed the heterogeneous picture of the students.  It is clear that it will be a big challenge to keep everybody satisfied in my courses.

The management of the club gives me carte blance which I will use to experiment a bit with some different methods of teaching. I have received the manuals of step 5 and 6 in the meantime which I will definitely use. I will also have a look to games played by the students. Additionally this blog can be a source for subjects to be used as teaching material. Nobody of them seems to follow this blog so I don't have to fear it will be just a repetition. Nevertheless last Sunday I didn't want to take any risks by selecting just an article. A Belgian IM has told me once that my article interferences is very interesting so I thought it is very unlikely that they would know the theme already.

Indeed nobody knew in advance what are interferences about. To explain the different types in a joyful way I let them solve in group a problem of each type. This made the course interactive and I assume this way they also grasped the themes better and quicker. Another advantage of this approach is that I get quicker feedback. Some of my students asked why some positions are very unorthodox.

It is a very natural and legitimate question. Some positions will indeed never occur in standard practice. Technically this subject won't learn them much. However I think the role of a teacher goes beyond just getting the students to play stronger chess. At least as important is to let them discover the love for the game. Winning points will give you a kick but on the long term only the chess microbe can survive if it is fed by inspiration and astonishment.

In this category we can probably consider the queen-sacrifice as the highest form of pleasure. The British and highly original attacking player Simon Williams wrote recently in an article on chess.com that such sacrifice is pure magic. Of course there exist many different degrees of beauty between queen-sacrifices. However in practice we will most likely see the real pearls played by stronger players. Unfortunately I am not one of them. There is always something lacking. I explain by one of my most dramatic games I have played in the last years. At least 4 fantastic queen-sacrifices were hidden in my 8th round of Open Gent against Marcel Vermaat.

The first appears at move 24 but my opponent doesn't allow it. On the other hand I have to admit that despite the queen-sacrifice being correct, there are other wins available which are more easy. It is even likely that I would have not played it if I had the opportunity.

A second queen-sacrifice is hidden at move 30. This time I would have definitely played it but again my opponent doesn't allow it.

At move 32 I get my first real chance to play a queen-sacrifice. Unfortunately I play a different winning move. Normally I should not miss this but as my time got low such things can happen.

The final queen-sacrifice is for sure the most sophisticated. The sacrifice is an introduction to a beautiful combination. Personally I think such combination is too difficult to find by myself alone.

I don't think there are many games in which you can find 4 totally different queen-sacrifices. It was a big disappointment for me not to win the game (more about this in another article) but (much) later I can still enjoy the beauty hidden under the surface of the game. My chess microbe is still very alive.

Brabo

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