Monday, 4 June 2012

Patience, grasshopper

The diagrammed position was one I used in a small coaching group on the weekend. The players were quite young (9/10 years old), and the purpose of the exercise was demonstrate the power of a rook on the 7th rank. In the exercise they took turns at playing the position against each other, both as black and white. Despite imperfect play from both sides, the fact that White won most of the games showed just how good his position is.
However, one thing I realised from watching my students in action, is that patience is a skill yet to be developed. Not once did the player with the black pieces attempt to drive the rook away with Kf8-e8. Instead there were a number of desperate pawn thrusts on the queen side, which usually resulted in the White rook getting to b7 or a7 and winning a couple of pawns. This of course meant that White was never asked to find 1.g6! as the best move in the position, with the most popular choice being 1.Kg4.
What I suspect might happen with this group of players (or any similar group of that age) is that while winning games using direct threats of mate or material wins will of course be satisfying, it will be the first player to discover the secret of defence who will move ahead of the pack.

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