PDA

View Full Version : what is junior chess talent?



qpawn
20-03-2006, 11:25 AM
The phrase "chess talent" is heard so often; on her site WIM Sorokina says that her mission is to find chess talent in schools and help it grow. But what on earth is it? Imagine you are a talent scout: what do you look for? Determination? Players who are winning a lot of games? Players who are losing games but are exceptionally mature in their approach? For instance they always want to know why they lost and are prepared to read books to improve. Players who are playing badly but imaginatively? For instance someone who is sacrificing a lot of pieces for unsound reasons.

And what is the best format to seek out such talent? Five minute chess? This might only reveal the quickest thinkers who need not be the best players in the long run. Fischer random? At least it takes the players out of their books. Or maybe puzzles?

I don't know waht the answer is. But if I were a talent scout/coach I would have to try to find some sort of answer. :confused:

Spiny Norman
20-03-2006, 06:38 PM
Its like pornography ... very tough to define, but you know it when you see it. :eek:

qpawn
20-03-2006, 07:45 PM
Frosty, that si true in other sports. I used to play croquet and I was very successful at picking talent at the beginner stage. I just "saw:" something in some players that just "grabbed" me. And I don't mean just winning matches or thrashing opponents becuase many people did that in front of me. But there were one or two people who made the game seem so "natural" to them. There was no visible effort when they played a difficult shot right.

But in a mental exercise like chess it seems that a "natural" player is harder to spot.

Spiny Norman
20-03-2006, 07:47 PM
If you are looking for non-chess indicators, mathematical ability is an easy thing to look for (get schools to nominate their top male and female mathematicians in each grade for example ... London to a brick they'll be good at chess). But beyond that sort of natural afinity for the game, I'm not sure.

jenni
20-03-2006, 07:51 PM
and music - the three seem to go together - playing an instrument, more than singing.

You do see little kids who seem to have an "instinct" for the game - they just seem naturally to put their pieces on good squares, or have an attacking instinct.

Libby
21-03-2006, 08:57 AM
I was having a very lengthy conversation about this with someone a week ago :hmm:

When I used to coach softball, some kids could pick up a bat or ball at the first training and hold it correctly (or almost correctly), hit the ball a mile and throw unerring to the glove - exaggerating slightly but you get my drift.

From that group with natural gifts came the more talented, more exciting subset. The ones with a brain for the game. They knew, almost instinctively, the right base to throw to. They judged the perfect time to steal a base. They ran the bases aggressively and made confident, fast decisions in the field all with very little direction. And if you gave them direction, they only needed it once and it was remembered.

And you could spot these kids almost from the first session with them. What you couldn't always spot up front, were the kids with a fantastic work ethic for which every instruction would be taken to heart and practiced and every titbit of praise would be so valued that they would work harder and harder still.

In the final wash up, a lot of natural talent fell by the wayside or was overtaken by those hard workers but most of those with the most obvious "gifts" (natural skills plus instinct plus generally good attitude) ended up where you thought they would - A Grade Club softballers, junior & senior state representative teams and sometimes international players.

Finding "talent" is not just about identifying a child who may become a GM. It can be very painful to hothouse a child in any sport only to find they'd rather be playing something else - no matter how talented they are. It's about fostering any spark and supporting it's progress as far as it can go. I think it's pretty easy to spot "talent" at a school level but less easy to decide at 8, 9, 10 what factors will see it come to fruition.

Denis_Jessop
21-03-2006, 07:44 PM
I think that most talent scouts and coaches would say that talent is not something that can be measured. Just as the essence of a good talent scout or coach is to recognise and nurture talent. An even more interesting exercise is that carried out by the AIS (I think) who go around looking for athletes who may be talented at sports they don't even play. I think one of our top women cyclists at least was discovered in this way.

But most important to remember is that talent is not everything. Application is just as, perhaps even more, important. In my footy watching days (Carlton FC only) I can recall seeing several players of great talent who didn't make it to the top because they lacked application. And, as Jenni has mentioned music, there are similarly many highly talented musicians (and I'm speaking only of classical music as talent and rock music are mutually exclusive) who don't make it for all sorts of reasons. SBS once ran a program about three musicians who won performance competitions and then fell by the wayside. One of them (Philip Hirschhorn) had even won a violin competition in the USSR in which Gidon Kremer, now among the top in the world, finished third. He suffered a breakdown due to stress early in his career and then died in his 50s a few years ago. Stress for concert musicians is even worse than for chess players.

DJ

Rincewind
21-03-2006, 07:49 PM
I think that most talent scouts and coaches would say that talent is not something that can be measured. Just as the essence of a good talent scout or coach is to recognise and nurture talent. An even more interesting exercise is that carried out by the AIS (I think) who go around looking for athletes who may be talented at sports they don't even play. I think one of our top women cyclists at least was discovered in this way.

Talent scouts claiming a certain je ne sais quoi in identifying talent could be viewed as a conveniently self-serving position. Actually I thought the AIS recently (last decade or so) went on a talent searching exercise which looked for particular traits in young kids which were mapped to particular sports. Mind you, my sources could be wrong.

ElevatorEscapee
21-03-2006, 09:07 PM
Its like pornography ... very tough to define, but you know it when you see it. :eek:
Can you give some examples? :P

jenni
21-03-2006, 09:36 PM
Denis is getting back to something discussed on a previous thread - what do you need for success in chess. I think it was agreed that talent, work and something I called psychology but others preferred the concept of "match toughness", were needed in some sort of mix (proportions not really known).

Talking of AIS - as much talent is nurtured outside the AIS as in it. e.g Pat Rafter was never hot housed by the AIS, but in the end went further than some of the kids on AIS scholarships, whose talent was spotted much earlier.

So while we should be on the lookout for talent (e.g. putting kids n Ergas squads etc), it should also be recognised that we don't get it right and trying to provide an environment that is supportive for many children is probably better than picking super 'talent" and focusing on one or two.

Brian_Jones
22-03-2006, 08:36 AM
In the early days of the Koala Chess Club, there was this 5yo kid who could really play chess well. He had an instinct for rook and pawn endings eg he always put his rooks on the seventh or behind pawns and avoided obvious checks. But alas he stopped playing chess because he was good at many things and association football was his main interest!

qpawn
22-03-2006, 03:46 PM
When I was 12 I knew zilch about openings. But I worked out that 3.c4 was the best follow up to the exchange French.

But that didn't make me talented :D

qpawn
29-03-2006, 04:21 PM
4.c4 No wonder I can't play blindfold.

One definite example of junior chess talent is the internet team of NSW who have come out victorious!

Marching band plays as someone whistles "We are the champions..."

And at the other end of the table commiserations to the fine state of Tasmania.

jenni
29-03-2006, 04:30 PM
4.c4 No wonder I can't play blindfold.

One definite example of junior chess talent is the internet team of NSW who have come out victorious!

Marching band plays as someone whistles "We are the champions..."

And at the other end of the table commiserations to the fine state of Tasmania.
Umm - excuse me - I rather think ACT won and NSW came second....

BFG
29-03-2006, 10:14 PM
4.c4 No wonder I can't play blindfold.

One definite example of junior chess talent is the internet team of NSW who have come out victorious!

Marching band plays as someone whistles "We are the champions..."

And at the other end of the table commiserations to the fine state of Tasmania.
Crosstable
Team Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 Score
1 NSW 9.5 6 11 8 10 44.5
2 VIC 2.5 4 10.5 9 5 31
3 ACT 6 8 11 10.5 11 46.5
4 TAS 1 1.5 1 1.5 5.5 10.5
5 SA 3 3 1.5 10.5 6 24
6 QLD 2 5 1 6.5 6 20.5

In Golf I believe this is called winning 2 and 1 (ie 2 up and 1 to play).

I think the whistling you hear is coming from Canberra.

Rincewind
29-03-2006, 10:25 PM
I think the whistling you hear is coming from Canberra.

Perhaps you should have waited for someone from a neutral state to correct the Victorian's mistake. :hmm:

BFG
30-03-2006, 03:14 PM
Perhaps you should have waited for someone from a neutral state to correct the Victorian's mistake. :hmm:What fun would that have been?

firegoat7
30-03-2006, 04:56 PM
The answer is persistence

pax
30-03-2006, 05:01 PM
4.c4 No wonder I can't play blindfold.

Hmm... I wonder if you mean 3... c5??!?

qpawn
30-03-2006, 09:22 PM
The best line in the French is the Tarrasch [3.Nd2]

But if you have to play the exchange line then best is 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e4 x d5 e6 x d5 4. c4

None of this garbage that I see with 4. c3 or 4. Bd3 etc.

I couldn't be bothered expalining why this is...sigh...4.c4 is just better.

Kevin Bonham
31-03-2006, 01:58 PM
The best line in the French is the Tarrasch [3.Nd2]

You may find some comments in this thread (http://chesschat.org/showthread.php?t=548) of some interest.


And at the other end of the table commiserations to the fine state of Tasmania.

As I mentioned on the thread devoted to that topic 10.5/60 against such strong teams (albeit some Tassie points were scored on forfeit) is by no means a bad result for Tasmania. For instance in rated matchups we were outrated in 37 of 39 games, including 26 by 400 points or more. Had our unrated players had ratings the mismatches on paper would have been worse. Junior chess is very much on the way up here - three years ago we would not have scored 5/60 in such a comp.