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Chmielewski, James A. Black, Jr., Brian Arthur, Isaac Barayev, Tommy Zhang, Carlos Tapia Wen, Kevin Marin, Anita Maksimiuk, Justus Williams, Elizabeth Spiegel, John Galvin


dle school experience. Kids who catch the bug continue with


chess as an elective and after school club, possibly seeing GM Miron Sher once a week. Some of these students will take Spiegel’s class every day. Their classes become less traditional and more like a teacher-led study group: On a recent Monday, Spiegel taught students play- ing the Colle-Zukertort opening a 15 minute lesson before they reviewed the material by playing through a ChessBase file. Kids playing the Caro-Kann worked independently, sparring and answering questions she had prepared, before meet- ing with her to discuss their findings. The three strongest players in the class, all rated over 2100, played blitz in the back of the room, while a group of non- tournament players played Game/20. Differentiated instruction is taken very seriously: In the run-up to nationals,


uschess.org


there were times when no two kids were studying the exact same thing. Each Saturday, students compete in a Game/30 tournament run by Chess In The Schools. These tournaments take place in public schools around New York City, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is free, and kids have their games ana- lyzed by Spiegel or IM Farai Mandizha, assigned to the team by Chess In the Schools. The analysis is intense, fre- quently uplifting, occasionally painful. Deep calculation or focused planning receives hard-won praise; lack of basic opening knowledge is criticized. Opening instruction is an essential part of Spiegel’s curriculum. “Teach a kid the Colle, even better, the Colle-Zuckertort, give them a plan to play for, and they will learn how to make and carry out a plan. They will get the same type of positions and structures, so they will be able to use


their experience from past games and post-mortems to orient themselves in the future.” (excerpted from Spiegel’s blog at lizzyknowsall.blogspot.com). The combination of elective chess classes, Saturday tournaments, and the after school club has proven exception- ally fruitful. This model won its successes with class A and B players, kids whose main chess influence was their school- teacher. But the last few years have been slightly different. In 2009, three unusual students were part of the entering sixth grade class: Justus Williams, James Black, and Isaac Barayev. By eighth grade, these three had raised the bar for what their program could accomplish. A glance at the school’s rating list tells the story: Each one outrates their expert teacher, Justus and James by hundreds of points. Each has a serious study pro- gram outside of school: Justus is a


Chess Life — July 2012 19


PHOTO: ADRIANA LOPEZ SANFELIU


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