Friday, 27 June 2014

Highlights of inter-school chess

I spent yesterday revisiting some of earliest organisational memories, as the Chief Arbiter of one of Canberra's inter-school events. While inter-school chess in Canberra is probably as old as Canberra itself, the current format of single day team events started in the early 1990's. While I was involved in a laot of the early events (which were often held as part of the ANU Chess Festival), I was happy to let others take the reins after a few years. However I normally put my hand up for one or two events each year, and this year saw me running one of the high school zones.
As with these types of events, the standard of play was mixed, although generally higher than 20 years ago. I suspect this is because more kids play chess at an earlier age, and even if they aren't 'active' players in High School, they still remember enough to keep by. Interestingly enough, it was a number of 'active' players on the junior chess scene who didn't play this year, for reasons I suspect have a lot to do with feeling it was all a bit beneath them.
The kids that did play had a good time, and the event was competitive throughout. However, if you are planning to take a team to an event next year, or are thinking of playing in one yourself, there are a few things worth noting

  • Knowing how to mate with Q v K, and not stalemate your opponent, is an invaluable skill. Numerous half points were tossed away by players a queen up
  • Knowing how to mate with R v K is an even better skill. One player even received a round of applause from spectators when he eventually worked it out!
  • Beware: The 4 move check mate still works. There was one player (with a decent junior rating) who wasn't paying attention and walked straight into it.
  • While a draw by insufficient material, or repetition, or even agreement, is not the same as stalemate, don't waste your breath explaining the difference. 'We had a stalemate' even when it wasn't, was a common phrase.

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