SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
I think the recent controversy involving the CFC and Jason Cao’s being awarded 352 rating points as a X-mas gift has left many in the Canadian chess community with a bad taste in their mouth. At times like this it is important to remember that youngsters are not and should not be treated as handicapped invalids incapable of proving themselves , needing to break rules or making exceptions of themselves in order to compete.
Witness the following success stories below. Each of these young stars , ofcourse, needed help and coaching to get where they are right now. But there is help and there is help. The type of help that inspires youngsters to push forward and blossom is the best. No doubt each of these youngsters will continue to develop and it will be their talent, their dedication and especially their committment to hard work and sacrifice that will determine how far up the rating chart they go. They are examples to everyone and they show that the system works: cream rises to the surface.
9-Year-Old Becomes Youngest US Chess Master
A 9-year-old California boy has become the youngest American to earn the title of “national master” in chess.
Samuel Sevian of Santa Clara earned the United States Chess Federation title at a match in San Francisco on Dec. 11, the federation’s website says. He earned a rating of 2,201, just over the threshold of 2,200 to become a “national master.”
Samuel Sevian, shown during an October match, has become the youngest American to earn the title of “national master” in chess.
“It feels good,” Samuel, a fourth-grader at Don Callejon School, told the San Jose Mercury News.
He moved up from chess “expert,” a title he got at age 8, by besting the previous record holder, Nicholas Nip of San Francisco. Samuel beat Nicholas to the record by 11 days.
Samuel, who turns 10 Sunday, has been playing since he was 5. “I like the tactics and the combinations,” he said.
Samuel plays chess with his father, Armen Sevian, 37, also an avid chess player at the “expert” level. The family is from Armenia, where chess players are held in high esteem.
“In Armenia, chess is very big,” Armen Sevian told the Mercury News. “It’s certainly not a geek sport. Chess players are compared to rock stars.”
Each day, Samuel spends at least two hours studying chess moves in books, playing chess with his father and practicing, via Skype, with his coach in Los Angeles.
Kayden Troff: chess prodigy, already a master
is undoubtedly the best chess player that Utah ever produced. It was Serge Archambault who first pointed out this youngster to me a month or so ago. When Kayden was just 6 years old he and his family in Utah spent a week training with the late Igor Ivanov
. Ivanov was sufficiently impressed to recommend the young Kayden continue to work on his game. Today Kayden is the highest rated player in Utah!
List of Accomplishments
- Silver Medalist World Youth Chess Championship U12
- 2010 Utah Open Champion
- 2010 Jr. High State Champion
- 2010 Utah Speed Chess Champion
- 2010 National All American Chess Team
- 2009 Utah Chess Player of the Year
- November 2009 Achieves the rank of National Master 2200 Rating
- Gold Medal Winner North America Youth Championship 2009
Steve Zierk (U18 world champion) and Kayden (Silver medalist,U12) in Greece this year
Already Kayden has a huge fan following. He has a wiki entry, a facebook account and his own blog! More information can be had this link: http://www.chessinutah.com/
After spending the larger part of my day with my wife’s family–always an enjoyable experience– I was then able to find some time to relax and this meant doing some reading…what caught my eye were some articles on the subject of gifted children and chess, though not necessarily confined to chess.
It appears that there are 2 major obstacles that make a sound and constructive discussion of this theme difficult: the first is finding a consensus on what constitutes a good definition of ”gifted child” and the second is removing fire-breathing parents from the discussion so that some element of objectivity will guide the rest of the discussion.
Most parents would like to think that their child is a genius, or the next best thing: gifted. It only stands to common sense that if this were really the case, then most children would definitely not be either! (if everyone is gifted, then no one is gifted) And the reality is that most children are just plain normal, but do possess an incredible curiosity that their parents mistake for some rare and unusual quality that makes them ‘special’.
One article I read pointed out that many children suffer because of their parents’ insistance that they are special : the child is brought up to believe that they must be better than they actually are, and worse: they develop the attitude that if they find something too difficult then it probably is not worth doing in the first place! So they learn to take the easy way in life…
This reminded me of this controversy created by the CFC president , Bob Gillanders, when he did not stop the CFC executive from voting to award 9-year old Jason Cao some 352 rating points. Some BC governor (Paul LeBlanc) who wanted to do something nice for little Jason convinced a CFC executive dominated by other BC governors that Jason was under-rated. Add to this chorus of voices Roger Patterson –who appears to run the chess club where little Jason is a member–who has in recent times painted himself as a know it all statician specializing on the CFC rating system–and presto: Jason was awarded the Xmas gift that Paul Leblanc wanted Jason to receive.
Ofcourse, it doesn’t seem to matter that the rest of the chess community finds this decision unacceptable, or as Gary Ruben has pointed out–Roger Patterson is not qualified to either talk of the fine points of the CFC rating system nor of what constitutes an under rated child–the decision has been made. Worse still, pandora’s box has been opened for each and every fire-breathing parent!
I just realized this afternoon while reading these articles that Leblanc, the CFC executive and Roger Patterson are just substitutes for the fire-breathing parents mentioned above! They want Jason to be ”gifted”, even though his CFC rating says otherwise, atleast before the gift of 352 rating points.
Naturally, Jason is just a youngster caught up in all of this mess (adult-inspired) and I wonder what he is thinking. He must be suffering when he reads that many disagree with the CFC decision. His only ‘crime’ has been to draw the spotlight on himself for winning the U10 championship held in Greece not a long time ago. And ofcourse, because Jason has been playing for such a short time–and he does not play very much at all except at his club–it only stands to reason that the CFC rating system has not yet given him a number that will make his fans satisfied.
Moral of the story: the more things change, the more they remain the same! The scene from ‘Searching for Bobby Fischer’ –where the parents are crowded into an adjoining room while their children are preparing to start playing–and Ben Kinsley locks the door not to let the parents out is so precious and profound. The worse part of junior chess are the fire-breathing dragons, whether they be parents or a fan-club. They make everyone else pay…even little Jason.
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS