Ten tips for your child’s first rating tournament

1. Play with confidence. Give your best in all the games. The hours and weeks of training and practise will come to your help during your game. Have faith in your ability. Every great player began as a beginner. The effort you put in during the game is in your own hands. And that will lead to success.

Also, don’t underestimate a younger or weaker player. Each player has his/her strength and weakness. Respect all players equally, and just play your game.

2. It’s a long time-control event. Time is an important resource. Make wise use of it. Think well before making your moves. Use more time for critical positions (positions where you feel that there is something hidden deep inside, a danger or opportunity). Also make sure you take sufficient snack, juice or water. (But don’t gulp it too frequently, you might spend more time in the rest room)

3. Write clock time in scoresheet every five moves or during critical positions. It helps when you analyze your games at home. (remember: It is not permitted to write anything else apart from moves,time and draw offers (=) in the scoresheet. No drawings 😋)

4. Acquaint yourself with the venue (Go for a walk in the playing area and make sure you find where the rest-room is, where the arbiters are, entry/exit and anything else you need to figure out later. ) before the first round (without disturbing the organizers of course) It helps reduce our anxiety.

5. At the end of the day, if/when you have time, write down your thoughts/ideas/variations you thought about during the game. Either take a small notebook or write it behind your score sheet. (and don’t lost any scoresheets. Our thoughts and ideas during the game are helpful resources during game analysis later on. After the game, we naturally start forgetting them, and new thoughts/memories start taking their place.)

6. Solving a few puzzles before games or going for a short walk helps stay focussed/alert before the round. There are also other methods that players use from time to time. I remember players who pray, or meditate before the game or even listen to music before game(and curiously in one case, it was Eminem Lose yourself).

7. Remember – What you learn from an experience/game is more important than the result. The lessons are the real prizes. A loss doesn’t matter. What matters is how quickly you recover from that loss, and what you learn from the experience. Also don’t celebrate too early. It’s going to be a long struggle with 9 or 11 rounds. Stay focussed.

8. For Parents: A farmer cannot pull the leaves, twigs and make a plant grow taller like a piece of plastic. What the farmer rather does is he creates the conditions necessary for the plant to grow. Many kids are going to rating tournament for the first time. It is a great experience. Playing with stronger players, like manure for plants, is an important condition for talent to grow. We are proud of you for supporting your kid. And we need to inculcate in us the patience of a farmer to nurture the talent in children. Scolding for loses makes children lose their interest in the game.

9. Over analysis is not necessary during a tournament. What I’ve come to realise over time is that kids are sensitive to judgement (and expectations) of their parents, coaches and peers. This creates unnecessary pressure which prevents children from giving their best. What I mean to say is that we should just let kids enjoy the game and finish their tournament. There is a tendency to review games with too much intensity after each round (usually enforced by a parent or coach) which is not necessary/could be debilitating. If they pick up the board and talk about the game with friends, Good. If they instead go out to play catch after a round, better.

10. Comparison is a silent poison. Between players, or kids, or siblings. When parents compare the performance of one kid with another, the result is a heartbreaking sadness. Please don’t do that.

That’s all I wanted to share with this blog. Initially I starting typing these sentences in WhatsApp for our parents and eventually it ended up in WordPress.

Thank you for reading this looong message. All the best.

Update: November, 2019.

11. Parents, I’m sure we have all faced this situation where a teacher would walk into the exam hall and start staring into our answer sheets (out of all the kids in the hall). I remember hiding myself under the answer sheet to blend in and make myself invisible. Why would you want to give such an experience to your kids? Let them enjoy their game. Avoid talking to them during the game, or trying to sneak/take a look at their game during the tournament. It only adds to the pressure kids are already facing.


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