Dear Chess Parent and Tournament Players,
The Super Nationals have just finished. There were over 5000 children from all over the country at this tournament. These kids are the nation’s best. With such a tremendous turnout I thought as a parent, coach, and organizer I should use this opportunity to gather some statistics. The statistic I was curious about was, ” On average, how many events will a student have to participate in to have a scholarship worthy chess rating?”. For the sake of time, I simply looked at the top players in the k3, k5, k8, and k12 sections. I checked their tournament history to find out how many career events they had played in, and these were my findings:
The top 12 players in the k3 section have an average rating of 1753 and have participated in an average of 75.2 events each. The lowest event number was 19 with a rating of 1772. The highest event number was 186 with a rating of 1739.
The top 13 players in the k5 section have and average rating of 1976 and have participated in an average of 127.6 events each. The lowest event number was 26 with a rating of 1907. The highest event number was 240 with a rating of 1975.
The top 13 players in the k8 section have and average rating of 2076 and have participated in an average of 166 events each. The lowest event number was 84 with a rating of 2215. The highest event number was 368 with a rating of 2093.
The top 24 players in the k12 section have and average rating of 2295 and have participated in an average of 230.6 events each. The lowest event number was 100 with a rating of 2045. The highest event number 626 with a rating of 2390.
What makes 1 player take 26 events to reach 1907 and another 240 events to reach 1975? How does 1 player reach 2215 in 84 events when the average for 2076 is 166 events? How does a player take 368 events to reach 2093 when the average is 166? 2390 is an admirable rating for sure, but 626 events is unreal! There were 2 players that were rated 2465 that had been to 252 and 365 events!
Based on these statistics, some of the conversations I’ve had with strong scholastic players, and the histories I’m reading, there are 3 distinct types of players! The 1st just plays, and plays, and plays. They aren’t studying the game and are getting what they get with experience alone. The 2nd group of players are studying haphazardly. A little study here a little study there but they are still relying on experience and natural ability. They may have goals but are taking longer because they have no structure. Then there is the 3rd and fastest event schedules. Here there’s probably a mix of strong competitive desire, natural aptitude, great training, and coaching!
After doing analysis for years for the kids at our tournaments, talking to scholastic players of all strengths and ages, coaching, visiting schools, conducting simuls, conducting camps, and private training, these factors in both the kids play, training, and general chess culture keep coming up;
1.) Our kids like all other kids are afraid to play in the center. They play d3 when they should play d4 etc. In the Sicilian, (1.e4 c5) refusing to play 2. Nf3 and 3. d4 is probably going to cost you the game. Everyone will tell you that it definitely easier to play against this defense when you play 3. d4.
2.) Our kids are too concerned with the 9, 5, 3, 1 value of the pieces. The kids are taking this information as a rule instead of a guideline! Our kids are passing up 3 and 4 move winning combos and even checkmates because they are afraid to be down in the material count! As a result, they rarely attempt combinations and also have no sense of danger! They don’t see combos coming either.
3.) Our kids are spending a too much time in the vacuum of a computer screen. They’re not giving the computer enough time to be accurate. It’s fast, but It’s not that fast. Letting them use the computer means that there are no authors talking to them. That part of a book can provide a ton of information! As a result, our kids are not using grandmaster recommended training and improvement techniques. There are proven techniques for solving puzzles, watching games, analyzing their own games, studying openings, etc. that they simply will never read about.
4.) Some kids don’t record their games or never go over them. Some try as much as possible to avoid playing with a clock.
5.) One of the kids I train went to the nationals. As we went over his games, even the kids in the under 800 section had moved on to more sophisticated opening systems. They tore his 4 Knights to shreds. The only way to have success playing higher rated players is with dynamic, (must be studied) openings. No one and I do mean no one has to study to survive the 3 or 4 knights!
These aren’t just kid problems! Every chess player develops the same way. Our likes and dislikes are the same and so are our strengths and weaknesses! SCBC has a remedy for all of these issues. Contact us as soon as you are ready!