Notes From Nashville: The Diary of a Chicago Chess Coach


Chicago Public School teacher and Newton Bateman Elementary Chess Coach Adam Geisler has been kind enough to share his "coaches notebook" from Nashville, TN where his team is competing in SuperNationals VI. Over 90 Illinois schools are competing and the ICA would love to hear from all their coaches (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Heading into Day 1:  Bateman will have 11 players, which is our largest contingent to date for a national tournament. To prepare, we have been busy with tactics puzzles, tournament strategy and game analysis, including some gems from the recent Lozano Spring Scholastic tournament.  Here's hoping for some great results!

Heading into Day 2:  "It's not WHO you play; it's HOW you play."

I often have to remind students about this adage, especially at these big events where obsession with ratings can distract from purely concentrating on the next best move. Such was the case in the first two rounds at the Supernationals, where our 11 players gathered only four total points. Yet, we keep our heads up heading into day 2. 
We did enjoy the opening ceremonies, MCed by GM Maurice Ashley, where several other grandmasters were introduced, and then the closing remarks given by all-time great Garry Kasparov. Later in the day, fans stood in an interminable line to get copies of his books signed.
Speaking of distractions, the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center is a site to behold! Essentially, a small city with every amenity one could imagine, it serves as a marvelous location for our students to play in this historic event. Here's hoping for some more wins in Rounds 3 through 5 today.

Heading into Day 3: Our Physical Education teacher, Mr. Nowak has a saying on his gym door: "The goal of fitness is not to be better than other people, but to be better than you were before." I have always appreciated that quote's application to life in general. As a chess coach, I am always striving to have my students make chess-to-life connections. 

Here at the Supernationals, it can be difficult to think about the long-term goals as a player, especially with those giant trophies on display in the playing area. However, I consider it part of my responsibility to stay positive and to keep the spirits up of the young ones. I am pleased to report that all 11 of our Bateman players have now earned some points after five rounds.
But I am even more grateful that we have built our comraderie before and after games as we sit around the conference table in our team room pouring over notated games. Of course, the parents deserve so much credit for taking the time and effort to make all of their travel arrangements and find some fun family activities in the idle times. 
It has also been a joy to bump into so many other Chicagoans throughout the weekend. Naturally, we are all competitive, but we are equally supportive of each other in these national events. Our work with the Chicago Chess Foundation has the mission of bringing chess into the lives of more of our youth, and it's been inspiring to see so many Chicago area families here, and we hope even more can have this experience in the years to come.
As we head into the final day and the last two rounds, we hope to finish strong over the boards. But more importantly, I hope the Bateman students feel the pride of playing their best and becoming better players than they were before.