What I learned from the Chess Tournament
Today I went as the Parent Supervisor with The Boy and 3 of his schoolmates to the local Chess Championships.
I’m not a chess player, so I knew nothing about what to expect or what was going to happen.
Here’s what I learned:
10) Parents who go to help at a Chess Championship should know how to play chess. I had no idea if our children were being treated fairly or not in their games, and I couldn’t help when they’d ask why certain strategies in the game happened. I’m really glad the teacher had already taught them the 4 move checkmate though – other children got caught by that!
9) When you’re playing in a championship, the same hand that moves the piece must touch the clock to end your turn.
8) If you touch a piece, you have to move that piece. If you touch someone else’s piece, you must remove it from the game (unless that’s an illegal move.) If you touch a piece and let go before you move it, your turn is done.
7) A lower rank team has the luxury of playing for fun. They’re playing to improve and learn, not necessarily playing to win. Much more fun, less stress. My team came in 14th out of 17 teams and they had a lot of fun!
6) A highly ranked team has stress over keeping their ranking. Not as much fun, and way more pressure. I was watching the highest ranked teams and there were tears, nerves, complaints, and some poor sportsmanship. Not sure how much learning or improving happened there.
5) Parents need to get over themselves and let their children play and learn. I’m certain a lot of the stress from #6 actually came from all the parents that stood around the table silently watching and communicating frustration through their non-verbal communications. I did that for the first game, realised how much trouble I was causing, and then purposefully stepped back and away from the tables for the rest of the games. Less stress for me, and less stress for my team!
4) If you’re setting up a chess championship, it’s better to make it so the toilets, kitchen, and exit are not on the other side of the room, with the only way there is a path through the competition tables. Talk about interference and distraction!
3) It is impossible to keep a room full of 50-75 adults and children quiet through a full round, waiting after their game has been decided, while other people are still playing. Especially considering point #4.
2) Practice is everything. That’s how a 7 year old (who has been playing since he was three with his parents, since he was 5 with his school and with an after school chess club, and been in the championships 3 years running) beats an 11 year old (who has only been playing for a year and had never been in a championship).
1) If you walk around one of these events with a clipboard, everyone will assume you’re in charge, even if you’re not. If I had been a bit more on my toes, I could have had a lot of fun! (I was keeping track of my team’s scores!)