I am proud to report that in our first competition as a Team against all the rest of the Elementary Schools in the Matanuska-Susitna River Vally, out of 16 schools competing we took 3rd Place. All the rest of the teams are from the Public Schools, ours was the only one entered for Homeschoolers/Private Education. To make an almost full team of 9 (10 is max) we combined my group of 5 intrepid Trebuchet builders with 4 traditional Homeschoolers who all signed up as a single team. Top 7 scores count. You get 1 point for a win, 0 for a loss, .5 for a stalemate or draw. The tournament goes 7 rounds so your max individual score is 7 points if you win every game. 15 minutes on your clock, so 30 minutes maximum time for the game. Touch-Move Rules. We started at 9 this morning and finished around 2:30PM
We lost out to Shaw and Knik, both schools with hundreds of students and well developed Chess Clubs. My Chess Warriors are all first year Chess players except for one who learned some from his Dad before this year. He did the best out of the group with 5 wins. One of the Homeschoolers also had 5 wins. The rest of our counted scores were all 4 or 4.5 Points., 3 of them from my group and 2 from the Homeschoolers.
For my group, attendance at the Tournament was Mandatory since I am teaching Chess as part of my curriculum, its not a Club. This was their “Final Exam”. We play chess or discuss strategy twice a week for about 1 hour. It is IMHO one of the finest games ever invented for learning to think ahead, develop strategy and spatial awareness and how to focus your mind. Go is the only other game you can make a case for it being as good, but its not a very popular game in the Western countries.
Gender demographics at the tournament were the usual Male Dominated at about 5:1 ratio. I remain unsure as to whether this is a cultural or genetic discrepancy, I think it is mostly genetic though. Chess favors a more aggressive nature found more often in Boys. In the top 20 of 84 Players, there were no Girls.
As we look forward to the end of the Age of Oil and Electronic Joystick Games, Chess will endure through it all. I played Chess on Ipanema Beach in Rio as a 6 year old using sea shells and rocks and cans of Fanta Orange soda, drawing out the 64 squares of the board by hand in the sand many times. The Game was invented long before there were joysticks and video screens, and depend on nothing but the Mind of the Individual really. It is possible to play chess with no board at all and just do the game in your head, that is how you play multiple boards at the same time. When I was young I could do this, I can no longer though, brain cells too stiff with age and I just do not play enough anymore to do it.
There is no element of “chance” in Chess as there is in say Backgammon or Poker or Bridge, other very good games but all dependent on the Roll of the Dice or the Deal of the Cards. The miniscule advantage you get by playing first with White dissipates quickly if you play someone of equal ability. There are no guaranteed victory strategies you can play by memorizing games, though this does help you if you have many memorized. Modern computers have now exceeded the ability of even the top Grandmasters mainly by crunching through billions of possibilities in nanoseconds, but no Grandmaster ever goes that deep, its done more by developing strategy and securing the space. I think the AI now does some of this as well.
In the world to come, I consider Chess as important to teach as how to construct a Trebuchet or how to field dress a Caribou or Filet a Fish. It refines your thinking and focuses your mind. It also teaches you that there are Winners and Losers in a very real sense, and that the smallest of mistakes can drop you into the LOSER category very quickly. It also transfers to other areas very well, for me a Debate is just like a Chess Game. You build a case; you feignt; you misdirect; you ATTACK when you see an opening and then you go in for the KILL. From my POV, these kids will not SURVIVE if they do not know how to go in for the KILL when necessary here. They are the generation destined to fight the Last Battle for ALL THE MARBLES. You don’t win against the Illuminati playing White if you are Stupid and playing Black, and you don’t win by playing nice either. You win by TAKING OUT their Pawns and then their Bishops and Knights and Rooks, until you finally get the Queen and leave the King isolated. We NEED really good Chess Players in this game, and I hope I can teach a few how this game is played.
Metaphors aside here, its nice to get away from the Doom for a few hours and play/watch some Chess. I occassionally still play some against my computer, but of course the damn thing is so good I can’t beat it unless I turn down the settings a couple of notches. I’m no Bobby Fischer or Gary Kasparov either, but I do the best I can to teach what I do know about how to play the game of Chess. No Josh Weitzman’s either in my classroom so far, but ya never know, one may turn up here someday. I am Searching for Bobby Fischer.