Monday night, July 14th, at Denton Chess Club only four children ages 12 and under attended. The teenagers and adults were stronger at chess than all but one of the children. Though the children occasionally played with the older folk, in the end they wanted to play against each other for competitive and social reasons.
Among the children, the eleven-year-old (the one who can compete with adults/teenagers) always defeated the twelve-year-old, the twelve-year-old always defeated the nine-year-old, and the nine-year-old always defeated the seven-year-old. In addition, the twelve-year-old did not get much satisfaction from easily defeating the littlest children (the nine- and seven-year-olds). I had to think quickly, so that the seven-year-old did not get discouraged and so that the older children would have fun. I organized a bughouse game. No matter which older child (either the eleven- or twelve-year-old) partnered with which little one, the result was laughter-filled and fun. The nine-year-old later expressed gratitude for the big kids playing with him. As I was thinking about that evening, I came across the posting for July 16th on Chess-Squared. I agree that chess can promote self-efficacy. But I worry about those children who were not at chess club this past Monday, as we used to have many more children attending. Did the missing children get discouraged from losing? Or were they just busy on the 14th?