Archive for the ‘scholastic chess’ Category

Changes to US Chess Federation Junior High Nationals

November 21, 2019

Announcement from the United States Chess Federation regarding changes to the structure of the Junior High Nationals:

In June 2019, the Scholastic Council formed a subcommittee of the Scholastic Committee to examine the current structure of the Junior High Nationals. This nine-person subcommittee from across the country examined data from the last four years and discussed the impact of any proposed changes, including projections of both section and grade restructuring. Their extensive report recommended a two-step process: (1) Immediate move to one K-9 Championship section and adding new class sections; and (2) Effective no earlier than 2022, the intent to transition Junior High Nationals to K-8. 

Key findings:

1. New class sections are immediately needed that will increase opportunities for all eligible players rated under 1700 and encourage the growth of chess at Junior High Nationals at every level. Meanwhile, the new championship section can be more competitive and ideal for all the top players and teams in the country. This restructuring would be consistent with previous section changes to the National High School in 2015 and National Elementary in 2016, which added new class sections to reflect the increased competition at all levels of the game.

2. Restructuring into one K-9 Championship section is more appropriate given that the event did not have a significant number of 9th graders and the current size of Junior High Nationals. Keeping the two championship sections with the addition of a higher class section would result in sections that would be too small.

3. An immediate change to one K-8 Championship section, thereby making Junior High Nationals K-8, would not be fair to the current field of participants without proper notice. 

4. Since the Junior High Nationals were first created, more middle and junior high schools around the country have transitioned to going up to only 8 th grade.

Based on the recommendation of the subcommittee and further discussion at the 2019 U.S. Open, the first step of restructuring the event as outlined below was recommended by the Scholastic Council and approved by the Executive Board and is effective for the 2020 Junior High Nationals: 

K9 Championship

K9 U1700

K9 U1400

K9 U1100

K9 U900

K9 U700

K9 UNRATED

The second step toward transitioning Junior High Nationals to K-8 sections is actively being discussed and is intended to be effective no earlier than 2022 Junior High Nationals. The subcommittee will remain active during this transition.

If anyone wants further information on the process or would like to provide feedback, please reach out to the chair of the Sections subcommittee, Daniel Rohde, at Daniel.G.Rohde@gmail.com , who will circulate any feedback to the subcommittee and the Scholastic Council.

How the Cardinals’ Kyler Murray uses chess to stay (at least) one step ahead

November 6, 2019

How the Cardinals’ Kyler Murray uses chess to stay (at least) one step ahead
— Read on www.google.com/amp/s/www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27958462/how-cardinals-kyler-murray-uses-chess-stay-least-one-step-ahead?platform=amp

Kyler Murray at the chessboard (photo: espn.com).

Years before Murray was a Texas high school football and baseball legend, before he was a Heisman winner at Oklahoma, before he was a first-round pick of the Oakland A’s and the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL draft, before he was the face of the Arizona Cardinals — who on Thursday face the unbeaten San Francisco 49ers (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox/NFL Network) — Staten recruited him to the chess club at Degan Elementary School in Lewisville, Texas.

Trever Noah set to produce movie about formerly homeless, 8 year-old immigrant chess prodigy – theGrio

November 4, 2019

Trever Noah set to produce movie about formerly homeless, 8 year-old immigrant chess prodigy – theGrio
— Read on www.google.com/amp/s/thegrio.com/2019/11/03/trever-noah-set-to-produce-movie-about-formerly-homeless-8-year-old-immigrant-chess-prodigy/amp/

“The brilliant Nigerian child won the NY State Chess Championship while living in a homeless shelter with his family as they sought religious asylum!”

Do chess playing children perform better in school? | ChessBase

October 24, 2019

The main finding was, “chess training reduces the treatment group’s level of risk aversion almost a year after the intervention ended.” Being more willing to take risks is generally a good thing in the world of academia, business, and social life.
— Read on en.chessbase.com/post/do-chess-playing-children-perform-better-in-school

Chess coach Jay Stallings celebrates 25 years of teaching – Santa Clarita Valley Signal

September 21, 2019

“I think it’s less about chess and more about teaching my students how to be thinkers and good members of the community,” Stallings said. “It’s incredible for me to look around here to see former students of mine who have grey in their beards, and it’s nice to see the impact that I’ve made these past 25 years.”
— Read on signalscv.com/2019/09/chess-coach-jay-stallings-celebrates-25-years-of-teaching/

ChessKid To Attempt Chess World Record With GM Judit Polgar

September 1, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Palo Alto, Calif., Aug. 28, 2019—The world’s largest chess website for children will team with the greatest female chess player ever in an attempt to set an official Guinness world record for world’s largest chess tournament, the site announced today.

GM Judit Polgar, the strongest woman to ever play the game of chess, joins ChessKid in the record attempt, which will run from Sept. 1 to Oct. 5. Polgar will lead the ChessKid club that will organize the tournament.

All kids with a ChessKid account are invited to compete in the tournament and participate in the world record. To join the record-attempting tournament, go to https://www.chesskid.com/register/kid/club/ckpolgar-world-record-club.

To set the record, ChessKid needs more than 20,000 individual children to compete in the tournament, said Mike Klein, the site’s chief chess officer.

The tournament will have two stages. The qualifying stage will begin on Sept. 1 and run through Oct. 5, and will constitute the record-setting attempt for largest chess tournament with 144 qualifiers.

There will be four last-chance “super-qualifiers” on the day of Polgar’s Global Chess Festival, which is October 12.

All kids qualifying from one of these 144 qualifiers will then play a final on October 19 at 8 a.m. Pacific time.

Any child who completes a single qualifier (all six rounds) will be counted toward the world record and will receive a special certificate from ChessKid signed by Judit Polgar. Participation in the finals is not required to count as part of the record.

As further incentive to play, ChessKid will randomly select one kid per qualifier (144 total) to receive one free year of ChessKid gold membership. Participants must play all six games of the qualifier to be eligible.

Five kids will be chosen at random to receive a signed copy of Judit Polgar’s book, How I Beat Fischer’s Record, and one lucky ChessKid will be randomly selected for a private lesson online with Polgar.

The top five finishers in the finals will also all receive a signed copy of the book, and will each get to play one blitz game against Polgar and one against Klein. The winner of the overall finals will also get one free online chess lesson with Polgar.

More prizes will be added later by local organizers and sponsors.

ChessKid will use all of its normal fair-play protection measures to ensure that games are played under the site’s guidelines.

Any child that is found to have used outside assistance or violated other policies will not be eligible for qualifying to the finals or any other prizes, and will also not have their participation count toward the record. All decisions made by ChessKid on fair-play cases are final.

By participating in the tournament, players agree they have their parent or guardian’s permission to play.

To join the world’s largest chess tournament and set the Guinness world record, join the Chesskid club at https://www.chesskid.com/register/kid/club/ckpolgar-world-record-club. Players must join the club to register for a qualifier.

About ChessKid:
ChessKid is the world’s largest website for children to learn and play. ChessKid.com is specifically designed to be a safe and fun place for kids, while providing resources for parents and coaches.

About Judit Polgar:
Judit Polgar is universally considered the strongest female chess player of all time. A chess prodigy, Polgar earned the grandmaster title at age 14. She is the only woman in the history of chess to surpass the 2700 rating threshold and to qualify for a world championship tournament. Polgar is also an accomplished author, chess coach and ambassador of the game.

Contact:

Mike Klein

Chief Chess Officer, ChessKid.com
mike@chesskid.com

Chess Chat: Q&A with Karen Thurm Safran, Author of Parenting—Let’s Make a Game of It

May 25, 2019

Many people know you as the powerful marketing force behind some amazing companies and products. Authoring a parenting book seems to be an interesting career pivot for you. What motivated you to become an author?

Thanks for including me on your blog… and for the compliment. Wow, we’ve known each other for nearly twenty years since my son started chess in elementary school. Time sure flies by quickly! 

Writing a book is definitely a career shift from managing marketing teams, working in a fast-paced high-tech environment, and driving revenue for companies. While it seems like a random career move, I decided to fulfill a childhood dream of writing a book and combine it with my love of parenting. 

Welcome, Parenting—Let’s Make a Game of It, an entertaining book showing playful ways to stop struggling with your child and start having more fun. Now kids will listen and cooperate-willingly! I’m excited because already it’s been a #1 New Release in 7 Amazon categories.

How is your book different from other parenting book?

While I love reading parenting books, my book is very different. First, Parenting—Let’s Make a Game of It entertains as well as inspires. The “how to” lessons are shown through entertaining, light-hearted stories. People say that reading my book is like sitting with a friend over coffee. Second, many parenting books focus on babies, toddlers, or teens. I focus primarily on elementary school-age kids (as well as toddlers). There aren’t many books for this demographic. Lastly, parents don’t have time. My gosh, there’s barely enough time in the day to tackle parts of the formidable To-Do list, nevermind read a book. So, I organized my book into short, easy to read chapters that stand-alone. Now whenever parents have a spare moment, they can easily flip to a chapter on a specific parenting challenge. My goal is to have these fictional, whimsical stories spark the reader’s own playfulness. It’s very touching hearing how stories inspire people’s own creativity for handling frustrating parenting situations.

Why did you choose to write a parenting book and specifically, Parenting—Let’s Make a Game of It? 

Parenting is incredibly rewarding, but it’s also stressful. Even the best kids fuss, don’t listen, and misbehave. With the never-ending power struggles, parenting can be overwhelming. My parents had a trick. They embraced a “can do!” spirit, used their imagination, and created games to turn around frustrating moments. It was like magic! Goodbye nagging and yelling. Life became more enjoyable for our entire family.

When I became a mom, I experienced first-hand the benefits of this playful attitude and positive parenting style. I wrote Parenting—Let’s Make a Game of It to help other families because this playful approach helped me as a stressed-out single parent. By creating games to deal with frustrating moments, you make parenting more fun, you empower your children, and you spend quality time connecting with your family.

This playful approach is in contrast to that stereotypically serious Silicon Valley parenting style. What are the greatest advantages of making a game out of parenting for families that live in such a competitive environment?

I know, parenting playfully seems counterintuitive, especially when your kids aren’t cooperating and you’re about to scream. Being playful is the last thing you want to do! Luckily, being playful doesn’t have to be hard, You can adopt a fun attitude in less than a minute as shown in my blog, “How to be a Fun Mom (Like Mary Poppins Not “Monster Mom”). I also wrote a blog outlining 46 Tips on How To Be a Playful, Positive Parent. While it may seem like another task to conquer, being positive and playful reduces your stress… and YOUR child’s stress. You’ll spend more quality time connecting with your family, which makes parenting more fun and empowers your child.

Whether or not you live in a competitive area like Silicon Valley, adopting this playful approach has many benefits.

  • Entertains kids when they’re bored and misbehaving.
  • Calms children when they’re upset and melting down.
  • Gets kids to help around the house with chores.
  • Teaches real-life skills like organizing school work, writing papers, and project planning to meet deadlines.

Being a Chess Mom/Dad presents unique challenges for parenting. Could you describe some of these challenges and how you handled them?

The biggest challenge was making time to attend chess tournaments. These are so important and part of the chess experience, so I made sure that my son participated in as many as possible. We even flew to several national events. If you’re going to encourage your child to play chess, realize from the get-go that this is a time commitment. However, there’s plenty of “down” time during each chess round. I recommend bringing work to keep you busy. Most importantly, have a positive, supportive attitude and consider this as time to sit and catch up on whatever.

I learned at the first national tournament, that we were there for one reason: chess. During the first break, I dragged us to the local aquarium and had plans to squeeze in fun activities throughout the weekend. Woo-hoo, we’d get to explore a new city! I quickly realized that competing is exhausting, so my ten-year old son needed to simply rest in the hotel room. These national chess tournament trips are now highlights because they provided special, connecting opportunities that also empowered my son.

How did your son choose and benefit from chess?

While visiting a relative’s house, our cousin taught my five-year-old son some basic chess. Boom! That was the catalyst. This passion continued and grew since the elementary school offered chess (which is where we met Chris!). At seven, he participated in his first tournament, second tournament, and so forth, all the way through high school. Now in his early twenties, he continues playing chess online.

Chess is VERY beneficial! It teaches patience, emphasizes discipline, develops problem-solving skills, trains a logical mind, improves memory, builds confidence, and provides a life-long hobby. I’m impressed how my son can focus and tune out any noise. He’s also great at math, was a stats major, and is now an actuary. Chess gave him an opportunity to be a leader when he started a chess club in high school. But the most important benefit is that chess provided countless hours of fun!

Finally, how can all the chess parents who read this blog obtain a copy of your book? 

They can visit my “Parenting—Let’s Make a Game of It” website and also visit Amazon directly.

Thanks for all of your wonderful work inspiring students in chess! And thanks for interviewing me for your Chess Chat blog.

Playing Blindfold Chess

May 19, 2019

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a photographic memory to be proficient at blindfold chess. The basic visualization required is really not all that different from the kind of mental exercise chess players commonly experience while calculating long endgame variations. In fact, if you’ve ever had a vivid chess dream while sleeping (quite common among my friends), you have already played blindfold chess!

Playing a chess game blindfolded (or at least facing opposite the chess board) against a class of young chess players is a sure fire way to raise the excitement level of the classroom or camp. Generally, I save such exhibitions for midway through a long camp or series of difficult lessons to add a little spice to the curriculum. In addition to adding energy to the room, a blindfold chess performance might just inspire a student to pick up the skill for his/herself which will greatly benefit their chess in the long run.

Below is my best ever such game played during the Fremont Summer Chess Camp in 2016. Enjoy…

 

[Event “Blindfold Game”]
[Site “Fremont, California (USA)”]
[Date “2016.7.13”]
[Round “”]
[White “Chris Torres”]
[Black “Intermediate Students”]
[Result “1-0”]
[Eco “C50”]
[Annotator “Chris Torres”]
[Source “”]

{[ ITALIAN GAME & HUNGARIAN def.,C50] [ ITALIAN GAME & HUNGARIAN def.,C50]}
1.e4 {I practice what I preach: “Open With a Center Pawn.”} e5
2.Nf3 {Knights Before Bishops.} Nc6 3.Bc4 {For a blindfold game, I chose my most comfortable structure (The Italian.)}
Qe7 {Perhaps my opponents were trying to confuse me by choosing the rare Qe7 sideline.}
4.Nc3 Nd4 {
My students have already broken two opening rules. They brought their queen out
early and now they have moved the same piece twice. Normally punishing these
mistakes wouldn’t be too difficult. But playing foreign positions with no view of the board is stressful.}
( 4…Nf6 5.Ng5 d5 6.exd5 Na5 7.d6 cxd6 8.Bxf7+ Kd8 9.Bb3 Nxb3
10.axb3 d5 11.O-O h6 12.Nf3 Bg4 13.d3 a6 14.Re1 Rc8 15.Bf4 Nd7
16.h3 Bh5 17.g4 Bf7 18.Nxe5 Nxe5 19.Bxe5 Qh4 20.Qf3 Bg8 21.Qxf8+
{1-0, Zhotev Jasen (BUL) 2086 – Ivanov Oleg (RUS) 2425 , Sofia 8/ 8/2009 It “Hemus Open” (3)}
) 5.Nd5 {In order to punish mistakes you must attack. Here, I know that their queen must
retreat to d8 in order to stop the knight from capturing on c7 with a fork.}
Qc5 {?!} {Honestly, I did not anticipate this move at all and was forced to repeat all the moves to myself outloud and calculate.}
6.Nxe5 {!} {“Whenever you’re aggressive, you’re at the edge of mistakes.”-Mario Andretti}
d6 {I hear excited chatter from my students about “winning a piece.”}
7.b4 {!} {Even when blindfolded, it’s hard to miss this obvious threat!}
Nxc2+ {Black had no choice that did not involve losing a piece or more.}
8.Qxc2 {I gain a knight without losing the initiative.} Qd4 {The queen may look threatening, but, really, she is all alone against an army.}
9.Bb5+ {At this point I couldn’t quite see the forced mate in 4 but this check seemed very promising.}
c6 10.Bxc6+ {!} {Looks impressive but really it is just the result of analyzing checks, captures and threats.}
bxc6 11.Qxc6+ {Forcing black’s king to d8 and a nice finish.}
Kd8 12.Nxf7# 1-0

Chris Torres Offers Online Chess Lessons

April 23, 2019

and would love to help your child play better chess now!

Reasons to try an Online Lesson with Chris:

1.  Follow up to in-person chess lessons to check on your child’s understanding.

2.  Live too far away to come often for private instruction.

3.  Preparing for a major tournament with a coach who has taught numerous national champions!

4.  Very cost effective. For $40 per online lesson, you can have your child learn chess from one of California’s most sought after chess coaches.

How it Works

1. Chris Torres harnesses the power of Chess.com and Wyzant to create the ultimate 21st century chess classroom.

2. After each lesson, Chris Torres will provide you with customized feedback and a study plan to take your child’s game to the next level!

3. All of Chris’ students are welcome to play slow paced (1 move per day) games with him during the week at no extra charge.

Sign up today

via https://is.gd/u5bIVd

Or by emailing Chris Torres (chesslessons@aol.com)

Fremont Scholastic Chess Championship a Success

March 25, 2019

FremontChess.com held it’s annual Scholastic Chess Championship on March 16th and 17th at the Learning Bee Learning Center in Fremont, California.   Nearly fifty children participated in the event to share their passion for chess while competing for the title of Fremont Chess Champion.

The tournament which was a combined effort between US Chess Mates and the Torres Chess and Music Academy had an entry fee of only $20 thanks to the generous sponsorship of Grace Wong (Director of the Learning Bee Learning Center) and Joe Lonsdale (The Head Coach for Mission San Jose Elementary School Chess Team).

The K-1 section provided Fremont’s newest chess players a stage to show off their impressive skills on. And impress they did! Pranavi Pramod and Suhas Indukuri led the way with 3.5/4. Other players who performed admirably are Karanveer Singh Saran, Davin Lazar Vinod, Eayon Hsu and Emmett Zhao.

The largest and most competitive was grades 2-4. Joshua Huang won first place with 4.5/5 followed closely Dhruv Sheth with 4/5. From a tournament director’s standpoint, this group was a pleasure to watch. There was at least one interesting game to watch every round. It was wonderful to see so much up and coming talent.

The 5-8’th grade featured many excellent players but none played as well as eighth-grader Arjun Ganesan who achieved the only perfect score in the entire tournament. Second place went to Hemanth Kumar Merugu whose only loss was to Arjun. I have no doubt that all of the competitors in this section are destined for great things in Middle School, High School and beyond.

As the organizer for the Fremont Scholastic Chess Championship, I want to take one more moment to thank all the players, chess parents and sponsors for making this tournament possible. As a Fremont native, it was a special privilege for me to serve Fremont’s up and coming chess stars.


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