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 Chess program focuses on the endgame 

Chess program focuses on the endgame

14 May, 2012 11:20 AM
DON'T be too quick to challenge kids in Bayside to a game of chess – you could be embarrassed by an eight-year-old. Six children aged eight to 12 have been selected by Chess Kids for an intense training program that aims to create a new generation of champions.

Former Australian junior champion and Chess Kids founder David Cordover hopes the program will help make Australia a world power in the game.

Apart from the world champion title, grandmaster is the highest honour players can strive for, yet Australia has produced just four grandmasters while Azerbaijan (population 9,047,932) has produced 14.

“The goal is to create junior chess champions and work towards becoming grandmasters,” Cordover says. “The game has been exploding in Australian schools over the past 10 years.”

As with most pursuits, talent alone is not enough, says Cordover. “To become a grandmaster you need a lot of talent and natural ability. You need that competitive drive and will to win. And you need the resilience and discipline to put in the time.

“It takes 10 years to get to that level and if you don’t put in 5000 to 10,000 hours of studying, practising and playing chess you’re never going to be a grandmaster.”

Lachlan Martin, 12, is one of the kids aiming for glory. The Brighton student also plays cricket, and says chess is great for the brain. “I love the tactics,” he says. “I love that you need to use strategy and think about how to use your pieces. The mental parts are really fun.”

The program lets children test their skills against much older, more experienced players. Lachlan has played in a couple of open tournaments, with improving results.

“In Ballarat in March I played against a 50-year-old guy and got a draw,” he says, bursting with excitement. “I thought I played really well and put in a good effort because he has a lot of experience.” Lachlan started playing when he was six before giving it up because “it was too hard”, but he came back to it in grade 5 and has been playing ever since.

Cordover says Lachlan is one of a group of talented young players.

“It’s a fairly serious level of commitment,” he says. “It will be two or three times a week but these kids are so good at chess and they love it. The effort they put in is amazing.

“There’s such depth to chess and if you lose you can’t blame the weather or the luck of the draw, because it’s just you and the table. It’s a great mental challenge.”

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Alex, 12 , from Tucker Road Primary, and Daniel, 9, from Valkstone Primary, with coach David Cordover.
Alex, 12 , from Tucker Road Primary, and Daniel, 9, from Valkstone Primary, with coach David Cordover.

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