We had a small but enthusiastic gathering during our first meetup. There was a bit of confusion as the Fremont Library had us switch rooms at the last minute due to a scheduling conflict at their end. Hope not many of you had trouble finding the adjacent room we were situated. In case we missed you today, I apologize for the not so friendly timing of this meeting, just that the library rooms are booked way in advance for the weekends and this seemed to be a good compromise.
In this post, I will try and capture the essence of the conversation we had today.
The first meeting was just to get to know all of you, give me a chance to introduce myself and talk about basic housekeeping stuff and plan and discuss the next moves (see what I did there!)
Here are high-level topics we talked about -
(1) Venue -
My most important next task is finding the Gambiteers a permanent spot where we can play and learn as a team and have some continuity. I am working with some local Freemont schools to explore options for using their facility after hours for the club. I will let you know of the situation once I have something concrete to share. If you have any suggestions, please reach out via our email/twitter.
(2) Swag -
I am going to get all club members a logo t-shirt, so look out for a message for shirt sizes for your tiny chess champs.
(3) Club Timing -
We discussed what were convenient times for future club sessions given most of us have full-time jobs to attend to, and kids have other commitments. The consensus was weekend afternoons and most of the hands were raised for Friday 5pm - 6pm. I will keep this time for now and we can explore either Sat or Sun 4pm-6pm as well.
(4) Parent's Presence -
We discussed another important topic - at least one parent will need to be with the kids during the club timings. We talked about younger kids may need parents to be around to feel safe and concentrate on the coaching/playing. I think everybody in attendance agreed. Pls remember, I am not licensed to care for young kids in their parent's absence and your participation is dependent on you agreeing to this requirement.
(5) Roster Freeze -
We formally froze the roster for the club and I will soon publish the roster for FY2018-2019. Next enrollment will happen in June 2019. I will publish the final club roster soon after adding today's new signups.
(6) Training Roadmap -
My intent was to give a general direction of how we will approach training and coaching for the participants and here is at a high level what we discussed -
- Absolute beginners - We will use tools like "No Stress Chess" and use strategies from some popular DVDs like World Champion and WGM Susan Polgar's Learn Chess In 30 Minutes, Chess For Absolute Beginners. I have a few books that have helped me teach my kids and we will draw upon those as well.
- Intermediate players - We will build good habits -
- Work on endgame theory, begin with basic patterns and mates and grow together in identifying and understanding more complex endings.
- Work on tactics and combinations - This is no different than your basic multiplication tables your 3rd grader has started memorizing. The more you know and can recall, the easier it is e.g. solving mixed multiplication and division word problems. The same principles apply to chess where the more you are tactically astute, you will start seeing and solving similar problems over the board in your actual games
- Visualization - Probably the most important of many key skills. Chess players need to visualize the next 3, 5 or sometimes 10 moves without moving the pieces. I will help young players with basic exercises that will help them see several moves in advance.
- Endgame theory - Expand on the basics to get to around 50 key endgame positions every strong player needs to understand and master.
- Advanced Players
- I will go over their tournament games or pgns for any game they need to annotate or discuss.
- Work on their opening repertoire.
- Find common patterns in middlegames and discuss how to transition from known openings to favorable middlegame situations.
- I can work with them on chess software like Chessbase, Komodo, and several other engines and teach how to use the silicon monsters to effectively train.
(6) Communication -
I asked if it was ok to add all the parents to a common Whatsapp group so it would be easy to exchange ideas and for me to broadcast notices and topics of interest to the entire group. It could be a nice place for us to hang out and discuss ideas and issues. Everybody was on board with this idea and I am going to add all your cell numbers into a Gambiteers Whatsapp group in the next few days.
In case you do NOT want to be part of this group, please opt out by letting me know. I do not want to spam you in case you are already overloaded with Whatsapp messages and don't want any more notifications.
This is basically the gist of our first meeting. If I missed something important, please add to comments and I will add them to the main meeting notes.
Have a good weekend!