Tips for chess parents

When to register your child for their first tournament

If you have a child who is very into chess and is interested in participating in their first chess tournament, as long as they know the basic rules of chess, you should just go for it! You can always try to find a local smaller chess tournament to start with. If you are travelling with a younger child, I would recommend not participating in the tournament yourself since it is possible that your game schedule is different from your child’s.

Tips for chess parents

  • The most common mistake that children make is that they play too fast. Try to tell your child to take their time and ignore the speed of their opponent. Most mistakes in the beginning are made by players playing too quickly.
  • You might be surprised to know that a chess tournament usually takes the whole day. This means that the matches usually start in the morning and might go on until late in the evening, so don’t make many other plans for the weekend if you plan to attend a tournament.
  • Most chess tournaments are played with Swiss or Round-Robin systems which means that your child won’t be out of the tournament after his first loss like in many other sports.
  • Chess tournaments are exhausting for adults, let alone kids. Don’t set too high expectations for your child for their first tournament, just make sure they are able to endure it and make sure you pack refreshing snacks and enough to drink.
  • Your child will learn more from his losses than his victories. Try to walk through their games afterwards to see what went well.
  • In bigger tournaments it’s not generally allowed for parents to be present in the tournament venue, but even if it is allowed, don’t stand right next to your kid’s game the whole time. Kids get used to viewers this over time but in the beginning it can feel over-whelming to have you watch over their every move. Just stick around so your kid knows you are there for them.
  • Instead of stressing about the game, get to know the other chess parents in the venue.
  • Make sure your child stays hydrated over longer chess matches.
  • Be there for the child. Whatever the results, you should be there after the game ends. Kids always want to make their parents proud and they want you to be there.
  • Turn off your mobile phone. Even if you are not playing yourself, having your mobile phone ring inside the tournament venue can get you banned from the game hall.
  • Never ever interfere with the game. Whatever happens on the board, it’s between the players and the arbiter/judge to decide what happens.
  • Stick around to the award ceremony or be aware of the prizes awarded. In many open tournaments kids are showered with smaller prizes even if they didn’t perform so well. There are often prizes for lower rating groups or age groups.
  • Even if keeping score is not required, you should encourage your child to do it anyway. You can buy score books online or even print them yourself and it will help your kid improve a lot since you will be able to analyse the games afterwards. It also helps them slow done and not rush their next move.

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