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Team Spirit

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A nice David Brooks piece in the NY Times on the benefits of very competitive youth baseball. We've discussed one tendency of some scholastic chess programs to follow the spirit of the Special Olympics and make "everyone a winner."

"Mostly we've seen boys experiencing the thrills of competition and the joy of being with teammates who share a common passion. We've seen boys who have matured not by being sheltered from challenges in order to protect their self-esteem, but by being able to go out and play against the best. We've seen boys who were thrilled to be sixth at nationals last year and who responded to this year's lower finish by going to the hotel pool and doing back flips."

Competition is good, especially in teams. I'd love to see more scholastic team events. How many are out there? Why not an international youth olympiad? You could have the same players, one board for each age category with a few reserves.


It's funny how many parents are unwilling to accept their child is not the brightest child in his class, not the best player on his team, etc. This is probably the same emotion that brought around this "everybody is a winner" trend. If nobody wins, nobody loses and parents can't complain that their child is being treated unfairly when in reality he/she is being given the same opportunity. However this policy doesn't instill normal value that hard work is rewarded, instead successful people are required to be entirely self-motivated and while this is a good quality, some very successful people recieve their motivation from recognition. How many people have encountered 12 year olds with the ability to articulate what they might see in a chess position in a grandmaster game yet there has been a twelve year old GM, clearly the lack of recognition and motivation isn't producing the same quality.

It is funny you mention the Special Olympics, because I was a volunteer for the first time at the Special Olympics here in Colorado Springs yesterday for the first time. The company I work for was the main sponser of the event.

I was surprised to see that there actually are winners and losers. The motto of the Special Olympics is "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." which I think is good, because the focus actually is on winning and trying your best. Of course, everyone gets recognition, lots of applause, and "participation ribbons", which they really enjoy. I know you were not criticizing it, but people might be surprised that it really is a competitive event. I know I was!


Some scholastics chess events are plagued by "trophy inflation" where players winning 10th place in under-1000 section get huge trophies. There is too much effort to assuage egos. Tom Braunlich wrote about this in an essay.

Years ago in high school, I remember losing a crucial last-round game to an arch rival player after missing mate in three. Of course, I was crushed to see him walking around with the handsome 3rd place overall trophy, but it DID motivate me to get better.

I remember there used to be a World Youth Team tournament (under-26), but I suppose that financially, it is not feasible to send players to so many events in a year.

I agree on the benefits of competitive sports for kids, but only if the relation between parents and sons is healthy. I have seen too many sad stories about beautiful young boys and girls who played scared to death, just to please their parents. In many cases they don't like chess that much, but approvation and love come in relation to scores and trophies. PLEASE, let's try to fight this. This is exactly the opposite of what chess and competition should aim for.

Chess as a medium to bash French people...

Chess to promote conservative pundits and their political agenda...

What's it got to do with it, Mig? I know it's your blog, but heck, I may ask, right?

What is the above post about?

I second Nick's post. I had to actually re-read blob to see if I missed something...

"chess as a medium to bash French people"...obviously what we have here is a disgruntled French defense user...or perhaps it's Bobby!?!

No idea. After years of writing I've learned that there is a certain category of people that automatically assumes hatred and agenda if you ever write anything they don't agree with or that offends them in any way. So, for example, I post a something about problems with the World Youth event in France, and a genius like this one will declare I'm bashing the French. And posting a clip from David Brooks, well, of course we must ignore the content and accuse me of promoting Brooks' politics, which are largely absent from said piece. The key is to always ignore the content and concoct motive. Beats thinking.

Of course it's particularly amusing in this case since 1) I love France, the French, and my dear brother-in-law is French and 2) I'm a die-hard progressive of the Nader-Wellstone variety and generally think Brooks is a tool, if a capable writer.

Mig, I understand as a blogmaster you're supposed to be all fair and balanced.
I know you don't hate the French, in fact your dear brother-in-law... yadda yadda yadda - some of your best friends are French.
Guess what, I don't have to be politically correct.
I can tell straight up I hate the French.
I played chess in many countries but never in France. The only time I tried (an Intel Grand Prix qualifier in 1994) I was denied a visa (I was a U.S. permanent resident then, but not a citizen yet)at the French consulate in NYC.
I did enter the country of France illegally later the same year when a stupid gendarme (sp?) waved our car thru without asking for Shabba's and my papers. Can say nothing good about the three days I spent there.
Ever since I never had an intention to come back and play a tournament in France. I'm sure if I had the conditions would have been as described by Aviv.
I've heard of Touze, he's a liar and a cheat, but what about "the good people who worked in those hotels and who felt Aviv's pain over the organizers' bad attitude? I won't beleive for a second that a third-rate bathroom down the hall hotel in a rathole of Belfort can charge 70-80 euros/night. I bet it's more like 25 euros if you're ask in perfect French. It's a rip-off country, that what it is.
And spare me that "you can't judge the entire people" based on one experience" drivel.
How come for all these years playing chess and travelling the world I have never even spoke with a French chessplayer? Lautier I don't count because he's Japanese, and Nataf because he's Neanderthal.
With nothing to add I'll go back to my beer and SportCenter.

haha! Tell it like it is yermo, please dont hold anything back! Why are you so reticent?

Btw, the San Luise site us up, and what's that bit in Svidler's bio about beating Kaspy 4 times??? Anybody with a database help me out here? As far as I know Svidler had one of the few plus scores against Gary the terrible, upto 1999 that is.. Then Kasparov smashed his Gruenfeld with a couple of brilliancies along the way, at least one of them contrived at the board. And its been more of the same since.. Am I wrong???

They probably meant to say that in 2003 Svidler won the Russian championship for the fourth time. A translation error perhaps?

Thanks Mig! Let's hate the french! ;-)

No, let's love the French. Whatever. Canuck, I deleted your post because it was a long and personal attack on another poster that added no content and seemed to have involved too much beer. (Nothing wrong with that, of course.) I usually let people know, but you don't use a real email address.

The San Luis site seems to be trying to say that Svidler beat Kasparov for the Russian title four times. It's hard to tell which of many ways that site is wrong on most of its data.


So should I write things like this: "It's a rip-off country, that what it is." and you'll be happy that it is adding content?

As both of us went to France and have frenchie friends we know that it is not rue, right?

Anyone else enjoying that kind of bashing?

Touze might be monster and Belfort's WYCC the crappiest of history such things does not enable one to write that France is a rip-off country. Period!

Personal opinion based on experience is content. Calling another poster stupid is not. You can say you like France and have French friends without resorting to slamming someone for thinking differently about it.

I said he was writing stupid things. I know he's not stupid. But it looks he has lotta anger against french folks inside him (maybe because what he experienced in the past).

I just wonder if you would have kept such comments on-line if they were written by someone who is more let's say not so famous in chess's world?

Well, instead of crushing this thread, why don't you go read the last 40 or 50? You're sure to find several hundred comments far worse. I only delete personal attacks, profanity, and obvious trolls, and that only when I see them. And you still haven't made a case for why Yermo's should be deleted. Being angry or annoyed isn't a hijack. He has as much a right to say he hates France as you do to say you like it. Especially since he posts information as to why. I don't edit for attitude. And if you think he's wrong you should be able to post your own opinion as to why without insulting others.

Meta garbage over. I'll delete this stuff in a bit. Not like I haven't written it and deleted it 50 times before. If a comments falls in the forest...

France is great if you speak french well and dont stay in crappy hotels (there are alot of those).

Wooow, I'm sooo disappointed. I've been a huge fan of Yermo's ever since I discovered his great book "The road to chess improvement". Not only did I like the content, I also greatly enjoyed the writing and, well, the spirit. And now, this crap... (surely I have a right to call it what I feel it is?) It's so narrow-minded, I just can't believe it. (As stated in another thread, I'm French. And proud, sorry.)

I'd like to make a couple of points : I'm sure it's not the hotel owners who charge outrageous prices, it's FIDE policy for this kind of event, the owners only get their usual share, possibly less because they are just too glad to fully book the place. Hence, neither their good faith nor the US coach's statement should be doubted, it's utter nonsense.

Visa issues, as pointed out in the aforementioned thread, are the main reason why the World Youth championships seldom take place in the US. It's easy to enter France (although I do not doubt the veracity of this particular mishap, and I will agree that bureaucracy is a problem indeed), and there are many great chess events there, which is why GMs from all over the world just flock to Bastia, Cap d'Agde, Cappelle-la-Grande or Cannes each year. This is bad faith pure and simple. Well, no (I'm editing here..), it did happen, it's only a weak point that fails to make the case.

There is just no way you can whimsically bundle 60 million people into one big heap of compost anyway, France is as much a diverse country as the US of A, so, no, sorry, I'm not sparing that drivel because it does make sense, which is not the case of what I've read above.

In any case I fully agree with Mig not deleting this type of comment, issues should be discussed, all the more so if they generate a lot of itching. Yet I'm not sure what to make of Nataf being "Neanderthal"... is that supposed to be nice? Otherwise I believe it does qualify as a personal attack.

Finally the reasons why GM Yermolinsky never spoke to a French player (except two.. well, that seems a lot to me if compared to nothing at all) are quite obvious : never played in France, hates the French in the first place, plus scarcity of top-level French GMs in tournaments abroad, partly because there were almost NO top level French GMs a few years ago (except Lautier, there you are)and also on account of the fact that they find plenty of opportunities to play at home.

Make your own life easier get the mortgage loans and all you require.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on July 30, 2005 10:20 PM.

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