No, lets talk about extra murals again. When we asked Mr C in the beginning of the year what he wanted to do his very first request was chess, followed by tennis. Our school has a wonderful addition to the usual school curriculum - one hour of chess per week in class as part of your school fees from grade R to grade 3. Therefore all the kids learn how to play chess and solve the problems. Some just love it and then want to take it as an extra mural too.
Due to the rugby the first part of the year, Mr C and the other boys have not been able to play in one of the chess tournaments up to now . A chess tournament takes up a whole day - well at least the best part of it. And you play all your rounds - there's no slipping away somewhere else to do something else.
So on Saturday morning I left with our very own very excited little Gary Kasparov to attend his first tournament. Boy was I unprepared! We get to the school and the quad at the hall and there the parents are literally camped out - chairs, tables, cooler boxes, blankets and flasks of hot stuff. And chess sets everywhere. Because even if you do not play right now, you play outside for entertainment. It was cold and icy and a few drops even fell here and there.Thank goodness that we have a whole group playing for the school and the parents formed a very companionable group to which we were called the moment a mom spotted us. Another mom had an extra chair for me and the tuck shop supplied endless hot chocolate. Somewhere I slipped away to the closest Woollies food for reinforcements . Next time I will be more prepared for all this.
But what a nice group of parents! And because the school has a lot of kids playing the chess coach was there as well - supporting the little ones. There were 6 grade 1's competing on Saturday (and two other on holiday). The camaraderie between the kids and the parents were fantastic. In fact, one of the moms has offered crochet classes at the next tournament! I will be there with my no 3,5 needle and double ply wool to make a bucket list item reality.
|The very serious world of chess at grade 1 level|
What was also an eye opener was how very serious all this gets taken. There was another grade 1 player where the organizers had to ask the parents to leave the hall! They were standing behind him, making low noises at every move and basically intimidating the opponent. There were also kids doing the "chess mate in 5 moves" trick - as our coach says - they will get away with it in grade 1 but after that they will be caught out and never got the experience of a good game played. Some kids tried to enforce the time rule (not applicable on this level) but C bravely stood his ground and said no when confronted with this. She then promptly told him she was going to win as she is the reigning no 1. I love that he gave her a great game and was not intimidated at all, even getting through with a pawn and claiming his queen back. Wow, that they do all this for the benefit of getting the best ranking and winning the tournament. Chess seem to be a very serious and competitive business. Of course winning is important and I hear that the top players are battling it out for ranking for Northern Gauteng presentation but seriously at 6 the experience and joy of it is so much more important!
What will stay with me forever is the total joy on Mr C's face! He loved every moment - even his losses. What I also love is that this seem to be the trend in our school's players - they will run out of the hall, big smile, and then lost or drew (or won). The smile is plus minus the same - the joy of the game well played. And they were all so very very happy that one of their group won one of the money prizes.
Mr C did well for a first time competitor and ended middle of the field. Some of the kids have played 5 tournaments this year and he stood his ground. I am very proud of him - not only for doing well but for enjoying it too.