ChessKid In Orlando; ThirstyDonkey Drinks From the Champion's Trough

FM FunMasterMike Dec 31, 2013 13652 reads
The ChessKid team traveled to Orlando earlier in December for the USCF's K-12 Grade Championships. More than 1500 children competed in the 13 different sections (you played only those in your grade).

PoppaBear and FunMasterMike analyzed hundreds of games and showed off the ChessKid tactics system and videos to coaches and parents. We met amazing ChessKids and we were treated to some spectacular chess. Memberships were half off and many kids grabbed one to learn and have fun every day on the site.

One young student in particular impressed us with his knowledge and focus. First-grader Lucas, otherwise known as ThirstyDonkey, flew down from New York City and promptly dispatched all seven opponents. In winning the first-grade national championship, he was one of only four winners of the 13 sections to finish with a perfect 7-0!

(left to right) PoppaBear, ThirstyDonkey and FunMasterMike

Lucas also had his rating go over 1400 in the process. In round four, he showed that not every "Greek Gift" sacrifice on h7 works. Lucas should know - his dad is Greek! Pay close attention to how the queen's rook slides over to help stop an h-file invasion, then Lucas changes his focus to trading - that ends the attack. He is also not afraid to activate his king in the endgame!

Lucas and other ChessKids were great about having us analyze their games afterward. We're just sorry we couldn't help everyone. The line to have PoppaBear review games never ended!

International Master Danny Rensch (PoppaBear) in purple

Round six was a very close battle for ThirstyDonkey. After both sides had chances to crash through on the queenside, everything came off the board except for kings and five aligned pawns. But don't count out the Donkey! He kicked a rook pawn through and showed why a protected passed pawn wins most endgames! Watch and see his tenacity...

Lucas was often playing through his games on his own, even after reviewing them with us. The ThirstyDonkey just can't drink enough chess! 
This was his first national title. Sometimes we joke that the trophy is as big as the winner, but in this case, it really was true!
Good luck getting that on the plane!

When a football player wins the Super Bowl, you often hear him say, "I'm going to Disneyworld!" It seems like Lucas should have said the same thing, except he flew to Austria right after the awards ceremony to go skiiing. Now that's a nice way to celebrate.
ChessKids also lined up to solve puzzles to earn awards like ChessKid t-shirts and wristbands. These girls really wanted their prize!
There was also a beautiful tactic turned in by a ChessKid named Jennifer from Miami. See if you can figure out how she won as Black:
Stay tuned as we analyze a few of Lucas's game for future ChessKid videos. Watch and maybe you'll learn the secrets to winning a national championship. Thanks to all the ChessKids, parents and coaches who came by our booth to say hi and learn some chess. Also a very special thank you to SCA Chess Academy in Ft. Worth, TX for feeding us every morning!