Chess Tournament for Children, South Jordan, Utah

By the chess coach Jonathan Whitcomb

Eighteen young chess warriors competed in a tournament on Saturday, October 29, 2016, at the South Jordan Library of the Salt Lake Valley in Utah. The chess tournament director, Alexander Gustafsson, a chess instructor and one of the top rated players in Utah, organized the event, and he was assisted by me, Jonathan Whitcomb, another chess tutor. The three winners, each with a perfect 3-0 score, were among the youngest: seven, eight, and nine years old:

  • Paxton Cichos
  • Moses Samuelson-Lynn
  • Aiden Gandhi

tournament director Alexander Gustafsson prepares for the first round

Alexander Gustafsson directed the chess tournament (open to K-12 students)

It was a three-round Swiss system tournament, meaning that the pairings for the second and third rounds were according to cumulative scores. With eighteen participants in three rounds, we expected more than one player would end up with a perfect score, and three of them did. I found it interesting that some of the youngest competitors had the best scores:

  • Eight years old (four): 7½-4½
  • Nine years old (four): 8-4
  • 10-13 years old (5): 5-9 (actual games played, not counting one bye)

Why did the oldest players lose almost twice as many games as they won? The online registration form fortunately included a line for whether or not the student had a chess coach, and that seems to show why the younger ones did better: Most of them do have a chess tutor, or at least they’ve had some lessons in the royal game.

Notice the details in which children have a chess coach (sixteen registered online):

  • 10-13 years old (five students): none
  • Nine years old: all four of them have a coach
  • Eight years old: three of the four
  • Seven years old: one of the three

Now look at the game results, in this tournament, related to chess lessons:

  • Students having a chess coach (eight): score of 18-6 or 75%
  • Students without a chess coach (eight): score of 7½-15½ or 33%

All three of the tournament winners (with perfect scores) have a chess coach.

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A game in the South Jordan Library chess tournament for students

Success in chess competition requires long-term concentration

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A girl records a move in her game in this chess tournament in South Jordan, Utah

Some students recorded the moves of their chess games

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Some of the moves in some of the games were seen to be illegal, especially in a king being left in check or moving into check. Tournament directors do not interfere in such games unless one of the players raises a hand for help or for clarification of a chess rule. Mr. Gustafsson did make a comment on the king-check rules between two of the rounds, however, asking the players to be careful to abide by check-rules.

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Boy moves his queen in this chess game in Utah

Good sportsmanship was displayed in this chess tournament

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chess notation was used by some in this tournament

Recording a chess game allows one to later analyze what happened

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Chess Tournament for Students, South Jordan, Utah

A free chess tournament . . . for students from kindergarten through twelfth grade, at the county library in South Jordan, Utah, on October 29, 2016.

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