Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Losing To Kids

I lost last night to 11 year old Peng Yu Chen (rated 1624) in the U1600 NSW Grade Match playing on Board 2 v St George Saints.

We transposed into a French like position (I was White) and a mistake on my part allowed him to capitalise and break through on the Queenside. During the game, I felt that I should have created better counter chances and this is one game where I would have to slowly go back and look where I went wrong.

Chen's youth belies a strong maturity in his playing ability and I'm not ashamed to have lost to him. He played a great game from start to finish.

Peter played on Board 1 and drew while Roger lost and David won so that leaves our group with a 1.5-2.5 score.

Speaking of losing to kids, while talking to a few older chess players in the club, one of them remarked to me on how he takes a little bit of comfort that he once drew with an extremely strong kid some time back. The kid has since surpassed him by leaps and bounds.

One thing I do realise about kids' playing style is their fearlessness.

When I see some older players playing against kids, I find that some of them have a propensity to seek "safe" lines for fear of being caught short in tactical play. I'm not entirely certain if that is the way to go. I myself have held the belief that one should always play to one's own personal playing strength and style. I myself am more inclined towards tactical play and will not hesitate to resort to tactics or sacrifices (if the situation warrants it). It would be a mistake for me to play in a more conservative and positional style (building up slowly etc.) because I am just not accustomed to it. I am at the stage in my playing where I favour dynamic play and tactics over positional play and I love playing to the edge of my seat at times.

In addition, rather than facing them with apprehension, I've always advocated to play to the best of your playing ability and not be afraid to tackle them on. Some of the kids I've come across are very good tactical players and with the aid of coaches and more resources like time, they can often raise their game to a much higher level and more rapidly than mature adults like me can ever do in a comparative period.

I am indeed happy to see them improve because it is a good image for chess if more kids take up the royal game.

Speaking of child prodigies, here's a very interesting excerpt about Illya Nyzhnyk below. In the video, he was only 10 at the time and already had an ELO rating in excess of 2200!


  1. I agree that you should play to your strengths and not change because of what you think your opponent is good at. Of course I had to learn this the hard way...

  2. Welcome to my world! I played 3 kids on Monday night. You're right that you need to play what you're comfortable with. Kids are better prepared these days. It used to be that if I could get through the tactical mine field of the middle game, I could win in the ending. However as kids get into the 1500+ range they tend to be more versatile, and don't have significant flaws in any phase of the game.

    The lower rated kids may have a good opening, but if you take them out of book they may not have a deep understanding of the position and the overall plan of the opening they're playing.

  3. wang: all i can say is ouch! the feeling is mutual. :)

    polly: Hehehe. I'd noticed the same thing you did. Kids in the 1500+ range have very few flaws and it takes a lot to win over them indeed!

    Regardless of openings, middlegames, endgames, they seem to be adept these days at all phases of the game.

  4. tanc,

    PengYu is not 11 but 12+ and attending High School. He has matured a lot in the last 12 months and is very dedicated to chess at the moment. I have seen him reading and analysing games from chess books at tournaments. You very seldom see that among younger juniors. The only other junior I have seen with a book at tournaments is Max Illingworth (others are too busy playing blitz or transfer chess).

  5. Hi Weng,

    Thanks for the correction.

    Hmmm... his profile on the ACF rating list indicated that he was 11.

    cheers and thanks!