Tuesday 4 October 2022

When the pressure is off

 With chess players starting competitions at very young ages, it is always a balancing act between trying to get such players to behave in the correct 'chess' manner, and not to end up pushing them too hard. 

During a school holiday coaching day, I saw a couple of different approaches, that seem to have different results. The first was an older junior who seemed content to win as many games as possible using Scholars Mate. While it looked good on the scoreboard, it was also clear that he wasn't actually learning how to play better chess.

The second was a young player who was worried about coming last (or scoring poorly) in the blitz tournament we ran. As a compromise, I told him (and his opponents) that he was only playing 'friendly' games, although they were played at the same time limit as everyone else, and he was included in the tournament pairings. The only difference was that his opponents scored a point for the game, regardless of the real result. With the pressure off (and slightly easier pairings) he finished with 5 wins from the 7 games he played, and even composed a song to celebrate this fact!

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