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Chess Camp:Day One

It's an all-day camp with a chess coach of the local (nationally recognized) college team. Lessons in the morning, tournaments in the afternoon. When I went to pick him up, he was having fun, smiling as he played a game with the older boy, while the coach was explaining something and the little boys were rolling around on the floor. A nice, relaxed scene. I was a little worried it might be too intense, but it seems very laid-back.

The camp is being held in the school area of a Greek Orthodox church. From the outside, the church is very beautiful with unusual architecture and many stained glass windows. They are in the bookstore, where icons of saints watch as they listen to their teacher's Russian-accented instruction.

A. was quite impressed by the process. "First, there is a lesson, then we play a game, then we have drinks and a snack." The teacher is wise enough to know that if you want to keep learning, you have to keep eating.

I've been reading The Search For Bobby Fischer recently. It's interesting reading for any parent. How far do you go to nurture a talent?

A. beat everybody at his chess club this year, and was eager to try new tournaments. The first one he went to was an informal, unrated affair, and he won third place. Then he went to his first rated tournament, after a few weeks of not playing at all. He lost four out of five games. He looked tired and sad afterwards, "I just didn't have a good day." Later, as we were driving home, he started singing 99 bottles of Mountain Dew on the Wall. I joined him, and every 10 bottles, he switched to a new type of soda. By the time we got home, we were both feeling much better.

As we drove home today, he told me he wanted to play football. I don't know what to think about that. He is about average height for an eleven-year-old and very slender. And he is going to be playing flute in the band and trying to start a chess club at his school. I am really against doing too many things, especially when school is in session. I would prefer he stick to chess, but I really don't want to force him one way or the other.