Chess: The next generation

The gifted and talented program for my 5th grade son (1hr on Fridays) has taught him chess.  We played a couple of games in which I would go easy on him and then win.  The third of these games he starts crying.  I explain that I’ve been playing chess 30 years more than he has and that he should not expect to win a single game against me this year.  Which he took as a challenge to beat me before his 12th birthday.

I was trying to get him to quit playing chess games and to try something different.  Pawns only games. 2 Rooks vs King. 3 pawns vs 2 pawns. Something with chess basics, but simplified.  He’s actually started asking for drills.  He’s started asking to play the weak side of the drill so he could figure out what to try different.

We also play Fischer random chess.

As we play I point out mistakes of his and let him take moves back.  Sometimes he’ll take a long time to move and then say “I don’t see anything to do” and I’ll break down the pros and cons of 2 or 3 different options.  Sometimes I get sloppy and lose a piece.  Sometimes that happens late in the game. 3 days ago it happened and I couldn’t recover and he won the game.  I did my best to be a gracious loser.  To not make excuses.  To not express my frustration with myself (especially not as anger with him).

2 days ago we played again. “Do you think I’m going to win again this time?” he asked.

“No. I’m going to focus and play hard and crush you. When you won it hurt me a little in the feelings, and this game will be rough for you.”

And I did.

And he was trying not to cry when I made him shake hands and told him it was a good game.  Then we played some drills where we would see how many moves it takes him to mate K+Q vs K… and he relaxed and enjoyed himself.

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