My favorite way to practice

Practicing well is so important in achieving your goals. When parents tell me they practice often with their children, all I can think about the level at which the parent plays. While playing friendly games against familiar competition is a fun part of being a chess player, I wouldn't call it practice. Here are a few of my favorite ways to keep my chess game sharp. Doing chess puzzles is probably the fastest way to becoming a good chess player. However, if it's overdone, it takes a game that should be a joy and turns it into a bit of a chore. does a great job of tailoring puzzles to a player's rating and makes it possible to grind out numerous problems quickly. Most tactics book fall short because they require flipping to the back. Plus, their difficulty levels aren't exactly matched to all students. ChessTempo is also free of charge compared to the Coakley tactics books randing 30 to 35 dollars a piece.

Chess By Post: This app borrows from the rich tradition of correspondence chess, which has benefitted from the "______ with friends" popularity on smartphones. Chess By Post keeps track of your rating and record, plus allows easy transferring of your game notation (coaches love this). Many of my lessons now start by the student showing me progress of 5 or 6 games they're currently playing against random opponents or friends from the Tampa chess scene. If you are up for a game, challenge me. My user name is "Domineer". or The Internet Chess Club: There is no substitute for timed chess matches against similarly rated opponents. Online games automatically notate and keep an unofficial rating as well. 



Traps and Zaps

I woke up at 6am this morning, irritated about how a game went down at the previous day's tournament. One of my students, Jackson was on board one for three straight games and was feeling pretty good about his chances against an experienced player from Sarasota who was also undefeated at 4-0. Jackson lost to a trap that I thought wasn't widely known, I even dismissed a parent's concern over it. "I bet you 50 bucks that doesn't come up on google" I said. So here's a public apology to Susie and a lesson learned for me.

With a little reflection, I feel like I didn't properly prepare him for the match and how I need to maybe reconsider what role "traps and zaps" play in the world of scholastic chess. I hated seeing the little guy lose a game I feel he should have won. Here is the game, rest assured this is the last time one of my students lose to this.


[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.02.24"] [Round "?"] [White "Kuhn, Jackson"] [Black "Probus, Jaden"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C44"] [Annotator "Crookston, Stephen"] [PlyCount "22"] [SourceDate "2013.10.03"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 f6 $2 {Aiden Reilly played this move against Hailey once to my dismay. Bad way to handle the Scotch Gambit, black needs his f7 pawn to castle and avoid white's tricks.} 4. dxe5 fxe5 5. Bc4 Nf6 6. Nc3 h6 7. O-O Ng4 $6 8. h3 h5 {Diagram [#] The so-called fishing pole trap, which Jaden asked Jackson if he knew before the match.} 9. hxg4 hxg4 10. Nh2 $4 (10. Ng5 $1 {Stopping the queen from coming to h4 wins it all.}) 10... Qh4 11. f3 g3 0-1

Nationals recap

The Tampa Bay chess community was very blessed to have the K-12 National Championship in Orlando(as it will be for the next several years). Board One Chess Academy’s students were well represented at the tournament and Berkeley’s team had a strong showing as well. Berkeley took home several, minor team trophies and many of my students took honors in the under sections(top 3 kids rated under 1200 in grade 6, for example). Below are three kids of whom I’m especially proud;

Wolfe Hudepohl had one of his best tournaments and lived up to the many praises he received from his coaches. Wolfe took a half point bye in the first round to sing at his school's winter concert and then proceeded to go on a run of 4 straight wins. Most impressive was his win over John Capocyan from Texas, who had a rating of 1353. Despite losing his last two matches, Hudepohl increased his rating from 648 to 809 and finished with a trophy in the under 800 section of 1st grade.

John Battle Harden started in a disappointing way, losing pieces and getting frustrated with being paired against 1700 and 1800s. Saturday night he was 1-3 and then made us all proud by winning three straight, including a win over Lixin Zheng(rated 1482). He finished a respectable 4-3 and capture 3rd in the U1200 section of 6th grade.

Harper Hudepohl had a tough road, most of her games were played against kids from out of state and(if a kid is traveling to nationals from far away, they are usually pretty good.) She finished with 4 wins, 2 losses this placed her in 17th place overall and 2nd in the U600 Kindergarten section. She has to be excited to join the team of Wolfe, Michael Ross, Noah Ellis and Marco Souchet for Regionals and States coming up in Spring.

Special recognition to a kid who I don't teach personally, but all in Tampa are really proud of, Dylan Sunjic. With little practice lately the guy went 6-1. He claimed 5th place overall in a tough, 6th grade section.