14 December 2015

The Blitz Standard

When teaching elementary checkmates to children, I often suggest they should know the basic techniques so well that they can perform them without thought with mere seconds left on the clock. Sometimes I mention an extreme example. Ryan Ackerman and I spent some time at the Spokane Chess Club one evening taking turns checkmating with queen and king against lone king. Ryan set his Chronos clock so that we each had ten seconds. We were each able to execute the checkmate in six to seven seconds with some consistency, although there was more than one stalemate through the course of the evening. Once, I played the nine or ten moves to checkmate in five seconds.

I do not expect children to perform these checkmates in seconds, but consistent success with reasonably rapid moves is a training standard they should aspire to. The first step is learning the technique and developing self-confidence. I learned these checkmates as a teenager, but still practice them in my fifties. My aim in practice is to move instantly and at the same time to execute the checkmate in the fewest possible moves.

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