Hello students and parents of the ICA community. My name is Alessandro and I am a coach at our summer camp this year. All of you know what an enriching experience our camp is for the campers, but you may not realize how much the coaches gain from being with all of the wonderful students of the ICA each day throughout the summer. To show you the wonderful but often unconsidered perspective of the educator, I will write a report for each week of camp that I experience. This will not be like the normal weekly reports that describe the generally notable events of each week and the winners of the many prizes we offer; rather, I will choose several illuminating examples of just what it means to be an ICA coach from each week and share them with you.
Welcome to the third article in the Coach’s Perspective series. This week I have two more examples of the unique perspective of an ICA coach on our camps. The first one this week is about confidence. One of my students only learned how to play three weeks ago. Already she is playing with (and beating) people who have been playing longer. Despite all of this, she insists that she is not very good and is often hesitant to play. Her reaction to quick achievement surprised me. While many students are spurred by success, she was discouraged by winning. In fact, after going undefeated in the first half of the week’s tournament, she lost her last two games and seemed less unhappy about playing. I can only guess at why she had this lack of self-confidence. At the same time, I suppose under-confidence is probably better for one’s play than overconfidence.
The uninitiated might think that teaching chess and playing it are similar activities. While teachers and students use the same pieces, the thought processes needed for each are very different. Twice this week I had to fill in for people who were absent from master camp during their tournament. After two weeks of teaching without playing a single game with anyone at my personal strength, I found it difficult to concentrate on the more complex considerations of higher level games. Somehow being surrounded constantly by chess, in the form of teaching it, made my mind less sharp, not more. On a related note, this column will be going on a one-week hiatus as I will be attending grandmaster camp as a student next week.