More Chess Bragging

The kids continue to be obsessed with chess, and they’re getting better all the time.  This past Monday, they participated in a simultaneous chess demonstration with Grandmaster Sergey Erenburg at the Maggie Walker Governor’s School.  There were about 50 kids (and a few adults) of all ages competing against the Grandmaster in simultaneous games, which was pretty cool to watch.

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Scott and Grace made a good showing, but Jason surprised us by outlasting all the other competitors and hanging on for 48 moves.  By the end, the crowd had thinned out considerably (hungry kids and tired parents eager to head out as soon as their games finished!) but most of those still around gathered at Jason’s board to watch the end game.  I don’t know from chess but I understand from one of the coaches that Jason had a shot at taking the game at one point.

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There was a photographer there from the Times-Dispatch, but when the story went to print it wasn’t Jason who got the spotlight (the photographer left early on) but Grace.  She was featured on the front of the “Metro” section in a big color image.

Thursday night was Chess Night at “Stuffy’s” sub shop on the VCU campus and Laura took Jason as usual.  While they were there, the simul was a topic of discussion among the players, who were put out that the newspaper devoted  just a blurb to the game and even then elected not to run a photo of the Grandmaster, who after all was the star of the show.  “All they had was a picture of that little girl,” they griped.

“Well,” offered Laura, “that’s probably because the little girl is so cute.”

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6 thoughts on “More Chess Bragging

  1. That’s the grandmaster? He’s rather young, handsome and dapper………… What is he like as a person? It’s amazing how mean-spirited people can be, looking for the negative in a picture of a young girl enthusiastic about chess, and playing the master, no less. “Just a blurb” might be quite in accordance with the level of interest in this for Joe Public. What a great clipping for your family scrapbook. I have two nephews not much older than your boys who are very much into chess, especially the older one……….. I’m impressed they can sit still and concentrate for so long on something real.

  2. Mr Erenburg is, I believe, 30. He is Russian-born, I think, and achieved grandmaster rank in Israel. He decided to “retire” at 28 because being a professional chess player isn’t, I gather, as lucrative as being say a professional golf player. :-) He was very good with the kids and prefaced the game with a short talk and some helpful tips for the young audience.

    I didn’t take the “little girl” remark as mean-spirited, and I kind of see their point: if Paul McCartney played a concert here in town, it’d be silly if the only picture the paper ran was of someone in the audience looking on happily. On the other hand, as you say the general interest in chess is only middling, whereas “cute” always sells.

    It is indeed remarkable that the kids can stay focused for so long. Especially Scott, who can’t sit still for ten minutes of schooling without wandering off or somehow falling out of his chair. Recently I enjoyed watching a game he played with another 8 year old: Scott wiggled, squirmed and rocked in his seat while the other boy actually stood up half the time and did something akin to a soft-shoe dance. But they kept their eyes on the board the whole time and played a close game.

  3. If chess is n’t a lucrative sport, then why work so hard? Isn’t it a waste of time? For fun, it is ok. For enhancing thought process, it is still ok. But, it seems highly rated chess players go through a lot of hardwork. Is it worth it?

    My 1st grader daughter is showing interest in chess lately but I’ve kept her chess time to a minimum.

  4. I imagine there are almost as many motivations as there are players. For my oldest, it’s just the thrill of watching his rating go up, even by a few points, after rated games. Plus for whatever reason he’s just hugely excited and fascinated by the game in general (as I was at his age with the space program and comics, neither of which ever made me rich, either). I don’t think he has any illusions he’ll be using his skills to support himself later in life, though he was pretty excited to win $30 in a Quad recently.

    If you want to take a purely mercenary view, there are some college scholarships out there for great chess players. Otherwise the odds of ever profiting from the sport are about the same as they are for football, just with the added benefit of not resulting in crippling injury. :-)

  5. Congratulations to him on the win! That is exciting and fun.

    While kids can go as far as around ~ 2000 rating, climbing higher ratings need enormous dedication, hardwork, skill and then luck as well. If they achieve an IM title after all that hardwork, what do they earn? Respect for sure. But, that is where it stops. Scholarships, football money in chess is all folklore and fabled stories. There are universities offering scholarships fo chess. If chess players put a quarter of that hardwork in their education, they can earn the same scholarship in any university, not some universities like good chess players do. Do you know the amount of scholarship that pays for the hardwork of the chess players? Do you know how much IMs win in a tournament? The prize money for a IM/ GM tournament starts at 200 bucks, so I’d say your son is lucky to earn $30 at his level. Magnus Carlsen won a grand $1 Million on his World championship win. In football, a million is what an average any university football player gets. A good football player earns many times that amount in a single year. IMHO, chess needs even more hardwork than what a football player does. Tons of reading, tons of hours of training, and then spray money to get rated. To earn what? I have seen and talked to a lot of good chess players like IMs, 1 GM. But, I haven’t met a rich chess player yet. All the IMs/ GM that I met deserve to be rich, just like players in other sports, for their hardwork, dedication, commitment and skill. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Chess is a poor man’s game. The GM in the above pic should be a good guide for us to know what an excellent chess player (doesn’t) earn.

    Fun, excitement, wins are good. Let your kids have fun!

  6. Trust me, we’re not banking on chess paying for college. So far they are having fun, even if it’s a brand of fun I could never understand. I never caught even a mild case of the chess bug.

    Not really sure why Jason is so into the game, really. Partly it’s because he’s inherited his old man’s obsessive nature, but also it’s because he craves mental stimulation and (so far, anyway) chess seems to provide a limitless source of data, history and theory, plus an element of unpredictability (at least with human opponents) that means you’re always having to make new calculations on the fly. It’s like doing math but with an element of competition, so it’s like it was invented just for him.

    That said, I still half-expect him to suddenly decide one day that he’s “over” it and take up a new interest. Which is fine with me, as well; as soon as it stops being fun for him, I’m all for him bailing. I can’t quite figure out the parents who push their kids in chess, but then I don’t understand the ones who push their Little Leaguers or miniature beauty queens, either.

    Scott I understand even less, though I suspect his interest is driven partly by sibling rivalry and partly by the chance to socialize with other kids. It’s fun to watch kids compete seriously, then shake hands and run off to play a Nintendo DS in the corner, or chase each other outside. There’s a tendency not to take things so personally, which I don’t remember being true of a lot of sports as a kid.

    Grace plays because it’s more interesting than coloring Hello Kitty pictures all day while her brothers play. But only just.

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