Friday, January 4, 2008

What about Illinois?

Last month, I had the privilige to be on staff for the National K-12 championships that took place in Houston. The coverage of this event at USChess seemed to center around which was the dominant area in scholastic chess, New York or Texas, and while I am not knocking the strength of those states, it poses the question, are we here in IL not relevant?

The K12 had a rather weak turnout in numbers for Illinois so team results were depressed. However if one were to look at the NYA just 3 weeks earlier, Illinois dominated the team standings. Now I am not saying that Illinois deserves to be known as the top dog scholastically, but we should be entered into the discussion.

I happened to look at the top 100 list for USCF ratings with ages 7 and under (I could have looked at other ages too, but just wanted to get a quick confirmation of how we stack up):

New York 17 players
California 14 players
Illinois 13 players
Texas 12 players

So what are the next steps needed to take to develop more talents onto the National stage? Is this a goal of chess coaches in the area to get players on the top 100 lists for their ages? Should it be?



jonburgess said...

ratings are a waste of time

glennpan said...


I can agree with you that ratings are well... overrated. They are what they are, a measurement of past results. While this can be more meaningful to track progress in adult players, it is also what younger players are measured by. It is important to note that the ratings are not a solid indicator of playing strength.

I directed at the K12 a couple of years ago in Orlando and was in charge of the K-1 section. At that event, a father of one of the players came up to me with the belief that something "fishy" was going on. He explained that his nearly 800 rated son, had somehow lost to an unrated player in the 1st round, and that had to be very rare, so was his son cheated? He was also rather condescending to his wife, feeling that her presence at that game rather than his could have been the problem.

I tried explaining that all unrated means is that we don't know the strength of the opponent, it would be more rare if he had lost to a 100 player. The father wasn't buying that explanation at all so I continued, that 5 and 6 year old kids tend to be a little random, and it could be anything. I mentioned that it could affect the childs play if he did not eat or sleep well, if parents where arguing in front of him (a not so subtle hint), or even if he was hyper from eating a candy bar. At that point the wife yelled at the husband, "You idiot, I told you not to give him the candy bar!" I walked away at that point, the child predictably lost again, this time to a 400 player.


chessdad64 said...

I agree with you Glenn that ratings are overrated, but let's not be so quick dismiss them outright. They are part and parcel of the floral and fauna of the chess world. Even the youngest players are more than conscious of their existence and often times be substitute rating for the opponent itself -- how many times have you heard "hey I beat an 800" or the like...

On the positive side, a particular rating level can serve a goal for self improvement --- I was thinking of starting a blog myself called "Getting to 1200” ....but thought better of it

Hopefully, as players progress, they work more on their swing... and their batting average increases as a natural result....brad

Tom Panelas said...

I understand the Elo system was invented in the early 'sixties. How were players paired before that, and doesn't today's system represent a big improvement?

iw said...


I was wondering if you could add my Blog to your links.
Getting to 2000

Getting to 2000

I have added yours to mine



glennpan said...


I have added a link to your blog. BTW, long-time lurker on your site. I enjoy it very much.