Peter Long is Executive Director at the Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia-Pacific which advocates the use of chess in education and facilitates regional chess development. He also runs the Kuala Lumpur Chess Association where despite challenges of parents he remains passionate about young talent development. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter: @PeterCBLong
I often read Peter Long’s opinions on chess and chess-related topics. While not always agreeing with his political perspective, I always find Peter’s views to be balanced and fair. Yesterday Peter wrote an insightful article for the Malaymail (online) on the World Schools Championships (Pattaya,Thailand) where he is currently working as an arbiter and web master, amongst other things.
I recommend my readers to read the entire article, but I quote the parts that interest me:
‘I, however, have very mixed feelings about an event such as this one.
Its always wonderful to see very young children enjoying themselves playing but on the other hand some are barely past beginner stage and can hardly make the moves or understand the rules of international competition.
It is horrible to see the flip side of a child’s joy at winning to the tears and even uncontrollable crying when losing. One cannot know if it is because the disappointment is too great or the expectations made too high and too often there is an angry out of control parent somewhere in the mix.
For schools championships, the categories begin at under seven and in odd years go right up to under-17 while the more highly regarded youth championships begin at under eight and in even years go right up to under-18.
I find it difficult to understand the rationale of putting kids at seven or eight into competition and think it is much better at world or continental championship level to perhaps start at 14 (certainly not any younger than 10).
I understand there was a point that it was proposed to FIDE to break up these events into two; one for under-seven to under-11 and another for under-13 to under-17 but then it was found that no one wanted the older age group categories.
Why? Because chess today at youth levels does not require sponsorship and are essentially funded by the money of indulgent parents and so there is certainly money to be made from the younger kids.
To every parent, their little one is wonderful but they forget they cannot choose chess but chess has to choose their child. And as I have found out in recent days, some parents (especially former professional women who are now the ladies who lunch) continue to believe everyone is to blame for their now near university-going child not becoming the superstar they believe their child should be, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
And so they rather viciously blame everyone and everything.
I see so much benefit from chess but also am aware of how much misery kids endure when their parents should really know better.’