1. Hard Work
Every week we are meeting and the group is looking at various subjects that can improve their game. We looked at some positions where a 'Greek Bishop Sacrifice' on h7 may or may not be possible. It is important to recognise tactical motifs such as the Greek Bishop Sacrifice, but it is just as important to understand when they cannot be played, as this will help you to defend correctly.
We also have examined the style and some games by third World Champion, Cuban Jose Raul Capablanca. Capablanca was an endgame legend, but he was also capable of bringing off excellent combinations and attacks when he needed to.
A large part of the Training Squad made the trip to the adult weekend tournament of Ballarat. This is a really tough event which takes place over the Labour Day weekend in early March every year. There were about 130 players in all including 5 International Masters (IM's), the top player being Australian Number 3 ranked superstar, George Xie.
While the IM's were fighting it out for top honours in the tournament, our squadlings set their own goals on how many points they wanted to achieve, and some things they wanted to learn. The target score for each player was difficult to achieve, but manageable if they played well. I was very happy that every player either made their target score, or got within half a point of it. This shows that the work they are putting in is being transferred to the games that they play.
Also, this was a new experience for some kids, as all the moves of the games had to be written down. The time control was very long, 90 minutes each player for the whole game, and every time you make a move you get 30 seconds added to your time. Games often went for 2 or 3 hours, and the top players went for even longer. Compare this to the 15 minute games that the kids are used to, and it is easy to see that this tournament represents a marathon for most kids. As such, we also talked about looking after yourself during the tournament with emphasis on eating, drinking, relaxing, and sleeping.
When the 2013 Australian Junior Championships come around next January, the experiences are squadlings have had in adult tournaments should set them favourably against other kids in the event. Our squadlings will be like hardened veterans used to working on chess most days, and playing tough events.