I supervised the Taroona High team at a chess tournament the other day. There are some terrific players at THS but many of the older ones have drifted away from chess, which leaves Marcus as the main hope of the team although he's only just turned 13. He carried South Hobart Primary team's hopes through his last 2 or 3 years playing chess there, too.
He did OK at the tournament, but as he often does he finished between 3rd and 10th. I feel like he puts so much time into working on getting better, and tries so hard in tournaments but isn't making inroads against those top 4 or 5 kids. He's certainly smart enough. So I asked him if he wanted to go and try out the Hobart Chess Club.
The lady who runs the school chess tournaments mentioned it years ago. The juniors run from 5 to 6.30 on Monday evenings and the adults follow; kids are welcome to stay and play against adults if they wish. I didn't push it as who wants a commitment on Monday nights when there other things all week, especially in soccer season?
But now I think Marcus, who loves playing and loves to do well, is ready to have regular games against strong players and meet the wider chess community. He seemed cautiously keen so we went along this evening to the Migrant Resource Centre in Molle St, which is not far from home.
There was a coaching session for the first hour, playing through a famous game; then the kids (all boys) were paired up. Marcus played a kid of similar ability and age to himself and had a long tight game that he ended up losing. By then it was 6.30 and the adults were shuffling in.
Elf and Michael and I had been reading books and generally sitting around the edges, and all four of us were getting pretty hungry, but Marcus was very keen to stay and play. The rest of us went off and got takeaways at the Tandoori House.
When we got back he was just starting his third game against his nominated adult opponent, and he was having a wonderful time. Marcus won all three. He loves it, thinks the people are very nice and the balance of coaching and playing is just right. He was concerned the opponents would be too hard (or too easy) but I think he is going to get heaps of good competition and heaps of variety too.