Scholastic Chess Tip for the higher level young players
There is a specific topic regarding scholastic chess I would like to offer chess parents a very important advice. This issue is more for the experienced, higher rated, and more ambitious youngsters.
When I was a very young girl, just like many other young chess players, I was enamored with chess legends. I read about them and it was a thrill to meet any of them. I am sure many parents can relate to this. I can give you a few examples.
When I was around 8, I had a chance to meet the Georgian chess legend Maia Chiburdanidze. She came to my hometown Budapest to play in an important tournament. I was thrilled to meet her and had a picture taken with her. She became a dominant Women's World Champion the following year.
When I was 12, I had a chance to meet the great Misha Tal in Moscow. He was competing in a major tournament. When my Mother told him that I was a huge fan, she thought that would be the end of it. But to my absolute shock, he offered his opponent a draw shortly after that and came out to play blitz with me. I was not a very accomplished player yet at that time. The bigger shock was I held him to a draw the first game we played with spectacular sacrifices. I tried very hard to beat him :) His kind gesture made a lasting positive impact with me for the rest of my life. We met several times after that after I became a much stronger player. Learning from him, I became very accessible to fans, especially young players, after I reached the pinnacle.
So what point am I trying to make?
It is OK to be fascinated with chess stars. But the key question is do your children want to be chess groupies or do they want to be the best they can be? This means that they will have to hold their own or beat them.
And if this is the case, they need to train hard, build self confidence, and have the desire to beat anyone sitting across from them, including Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Vishy Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, or any other chess superstars.
I saw many kids became so intimidated because "they are afraid" of their "idols". They then play against the legends in their minds instead of the persons sitting across them. This clearly affected them adversely.
As for me, I wanted to be a Grandmaster, especially because no woman has ever earned the Grandmaster title over the board play at that time. I wanted to be an Olympiad Champion. I wanted to be a World Champion. So it meant that I had to focus much more on improving chess and not stay as a chess groupie forever.
I eventually accomplished nearly everything I wanted to achieve, in spite of countless road blocks.
Not only I was able to catch other female chess legends such as Nona Gaprindashvili and Maia Chiburdanidze, but I later dominated them. I became #1 in the world when I was 15 years old.
I had to get through them to eventually become Olympiad Champion and Triple-Crown World Champion. I was the first in history, male or female, to accomplish this feat in 1996 (Magnus became the 2nd to accomplish this around 2013-2014).
Along the way, I was able to beat many other chess legends (either World Champions or top 10 players in the world) such as Karpov, Smyslov, Larsen, Geller, Portish, Ljubojevic, etc.
I also drew Tal and Spassky.
And of course my greatest thrill was to be able to hold my own (around 50% score) against the greatest, Bobby Fischer, when we played countless Fischer Random games.
So parents, while it is great that your children may be big fans of the chess stars of today, there has to be a balance where they have to want to beat these players as well :)
Please feel free to add your personal experience or ask questions about this topic in the comment section below.