08 February 2014

Youth Tournament Lessons

Today I was the tournament director for the second annual Frosty Pawn, the seventh scholastic tournament in my area for the 2013-2014 school year. I was able to spend a little time in the playing area watching games and captured a few key positions on my iPhone.

Every youth tournament seems to have at least one instance of Scholar's Mate. I photographed a game in the first round that ended with this position:

White to move

White played 4.Qxf7#. I suspect that Black's last move had been 3...Nf6.

In round four, I watched a player who has not yet learned how to checkmate with a rook and queen chase his opponent's lone king across the center of the board after missing several checkmates in one or two moves. He then promoted two pawns--one to a rook and one to a bishop. Finally, they reached this position.

Black to move

Black played Qd1 and after several minutes, they understood that the game had ended in stalemate. I did not interfere in their process other than to confirm that after Qd1 it was White's move. They had spent enough time in the resulting position to have become uncertain.

One of the young girls whom I coach was playing out a rook and king against a king while her father and I watched from thirty feet away. I think that she had this position, or one very similar several times before she found the correct move. But, in the end, she found the moves and won the game.

White to move
White Checkmates in Two Moves

It was a happy moment for her father and I because I had worked with her on this checkmate some weeks back and her father had been working with her at home on "making the box smaller."

Two of the top players in the K-6 section reached this complex position. Black had been winning early, missed a chance to win White's queen, but kept up the pressure on the White monarch as White gained several pieces, such as the unmoved rooks.

Black to move

Playing this position against Fritz 11, I was able to force a draw both with Qh3+ and with the move played in the game, g4+.

Both players made errors through the next several moves from this position and soon reached another situation that I caught with my phone.

Black to move

I would have played Qd5, which against Fritz quickly produced a pawn ending that is easily won. Black played f5, which may still leave Black with an advantage. Instead, several moves later White skewered the king, which had moved back to the back rank, and won the queen on a8.

I could not bear to continue watching as White started pushing his a-pawn forward to gain a second queen instead of quickly forcing checkmate with the cooperation of king and queen. All Black's pawns were gone soon after he lost his queen.

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