In-Depth Post #4 2022

Hello and welcome back to my blog. This post will focus on my chess in-depth project.

Progress Report

Since my last post I have accomplished my goal of completing the “Opening Principles” unit on chess.com, and I have begun the “Winning the Game” unit, covering the lesson on the 4-move checkmate. Additionally, I have continued playing chess frequently on the rapid setting on chess.com, reaching my goal of getting a 230 rating.

Chess terms

In my last post, I said I wanted to explore the chess terms section on chess.com in the upcoming weeks. I did some research on the terms blunder, bad bishop, and backward pawn. Here is what I learned about each term and how each one was able to improve my understanding of the game.

Blunder

After every game you play, chess.com gives you a full analysis of your game. In the analysis, there is always a section called a blunder. I never fully understood what it meant so I decided to do some research.

Definition: In chess, a blunder happens when a player makes a move that negatively affects their position in a significant way. As a result, it can often cause a player to lose material or be checkmated. A blunder gives the opponent a great advantage.

It is important to recognize blunders, as a single blunder can turn a game around. Avoiding these errors is an essential step to winning more games, and it is the main difference between beginners and more advanced players. Unfortunately, though, no one is blunder-proof. Even professional chess players make game-losing moves from time to time.

Now that I know what blunders are, I can better understand the game analysis chess.com provides, and improve from my mistakes.

Bad Bishop

Definition: A bad bishop is a bishop that is blocked by its own pawns, making the number of squares it controls very low. There is a relationship between the pawn structure and the strength of a bishop: if most of your pawns are on light squares, then the light-squared bishop can be restricted (the same is true for dark-squared bishops and pawns on dark squares). If you have just one bishop, you should try to place your pawns on the squares of the opposite colour of your bishop. If you do this, then you can control squares of both colours, and your bishop can move more freely.

Bad Bishop - Chess Terms - Chess.com

Example: the black bishop on b7 is considered a bad bishop because it is blocked by its own pawns.

The ability to recognize bad bishops is very important. If you have this ability, then you can try to avoid having bad bishops in the first place. Additionally, it will help you be more aware of your opponent’s pieces and when you can take advantage of their bad pieces.

Since learning about bad bishops, I have been noticing them a lot more in my games and striving to avoid getting them. I have become more strategic in the placement of my pawns in accordance with my bishops.

Backward Pawn

Definintion: A backward pawn is a pawn that has no support from other pawns (because they have advanced ahead of the backward pawn or because they no longer exist). A backward pawn cannot advance freely without being captured and almost always supports another pawn on an adjacent file.

Backward pawns are important for strategical reasons, mainly because they are a weakness in pawn structure, which can be targeted and attacked. In general, you want to avoid creating backward pawns for no reason as you are creating a target for your opponent to attack! Similarly, it is important to know what backward pawns are so that in the event that your opponent creates one, you can plan to attack this pawn.

Reading this article gave me a slight introduction to pawn structures. Previously, I wouldn’t think too much about how my pawns were protecting one another, however that changed after reading this article. In the upcoming week, I plan on doing some more research on pawn structures

Goals

I will continue my lessons on chess.com and progress in the “Winning the Game” unit. Additionally, I want to do some research on specific chess openings and defenses like the Italian Game, Sicilian Defense, and French Defense. Lastly, on chess.com I want to read the article on pawn structures and examine a few of the popular ones.

I will continue to play chess on the rapid setting and I hope to bring my rating up to 335 by the next post.

Mentor Questions

1. What has been my most difficult mentoring challenge so far?  Why?

Honestly, the most difficult challenge has been finding times when we could meet that worked for both of us. My mentor is quite busy so setting up meetings took some effort.

2. What is working well? Why?

In my previous post, I mentioned that I wanted to write a list of questions prior to meeting with my mentor to help guide our meetings more. For our past two meetings, I created a list of questions. These lists not only helped guide our meetings but they also allowed me to remember very specific questions that came up while I was playing chess online. The questions I began asking were a lot more insightful and specific. I think I will continue creating these lists as they only improved the quality of our meetings.

3. What could be working better?  How can you make sure this happens?

Truthfully, our meetings have been going really well. Our discussions are really meaningful, and I retrieve a lot of good information from them. The games we play are fun, and I also learn a lot from them. My experience only grows when I play with my mentor. Currently, there isn’t anything that I believe could be improved.

Thanks for reading my in-depth post, see you in the next one.

The Park of Thieves

For the last month and a bit, my lit circle group has been reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. For our cumulative project, we created a theme park for our book. My main contribution to this project consisted of drawing three character sketches and writing a paragraph about each character that drew. When I was drawing my character sketches I tried making them as specific to the characters as possible. For example, I drew Liesel holding a book and I drew Hans playing an accordion and smoking a cigarette. In the paragraphs, I described each character’s personality and as result how they would interact with the visitor’s at the park. When writing these paragraphs I considered different events in the book to validate the way they would act. Additionally, I added small details about the characters into the paragraphs to make them seem more personal to the character. Once I drew my sketches and wrote my paragraphs, I inserted my work into a shared canva brochure. I helped with the formatting process of the brochure and helped make the page of the brochure that discussed the different passes of The Park of Thieves. Lastly, I came up with the name to our park.

During our meetings I helped my group members brainstorm ideas for their work (ex. ride names, merch ideas, show ideas). I made sure to share as many updates with my team members to keep them up to track with everything. Overall, I think our project was quite successful.

Below you can find the sketches that I made.

Liesel Meminger

Max Vandenburg

Hans Hubermann

In-Depth Post #3 2022

Hello and welcome back to my blog. This post will focus on my chess in-depth project.

Since my last post, I have progressed in my lessons on chess.com and have continued playing chess, specifically on the rapid setting, on chess.com against other people and computers. First I will answer some questions on how my meetings with my mentor have been going.

Mentor Questions

2.  What relationship challenges did you face?  Address some of the sub- questions below

a. Were you communicating effectively with one another? Explain

For the most part, I think that our communication is quite effective. Most of the time I will ask if I don’t understand something. However, I have realized that sometimes language can be a barrier in our communication. I have known my mentor my entire life because he is my parent’s friend, so I have always spoken to him in Russian. Although, during our meetings, I sometimes struggle to find the right words in Russian to express my thoughts.

d. Were you actually listening to each other? Explain

At the end of each meeting, we usually finish our session by playing a game of chess. He can see my progress, and he can also teach me some things along the way. While we are playing he will usually show me some possible moves that I can make and walk me through them. He also often explains the possible moves he can make just so I understand what he’s doing as well. However, I have realized that sometimes he will present me with a bit too many options that it makes it hard for me to follow along and makes me feel a bit overwhelmed. I found that I wouldn’t fully process all of the information that he would give me. However, the next time we meet I will make sure to tell him that it is still hard for me to process all possible scenarios quickly as a beginner, so it would be very helpful for me if he would just slow down a bit, or just present me with fewer scenarios.

3. What learning challenges emerged?

a. What did you do to hold yourselves accountable for the learning?

Before our meetings, I make sure to play online and with my grandma and complete a few lessons. However, during our previous meeting, I asked my mentor what he thought I should focus on over the next few weeks to further my learning. He said that I shouldn’t focus too much on the lessons right now and just play as much as I can. I can continue completing lessons in the background but it shouldn’t be my main objective.

Progress Report

I’ve been playing online against other people on the rapid setting (each player gets 10 minutes to play), and I realized that I often lose those games because I run out of time. In the next few weeks, I want to play against computers more (you can play without a time limit), as they are more convenient for me as a learner. I have also played against my grandma a few times this week. I hadn’t played with her since early on in my journey. When I was playing with her then, I only knew the basic rules of chess. I won both games that we played, and my grandma says that she can really see how much I’ve improved already. She said that it’s getting a lot more interesting to play with me. Additionally, while playing with her I began noticing when she would make bad/weak moves. As a player, you will grow faster if you begin to not only acknowledge the mistakes that you make but the mistakes that your opponent makes and what stronger moves they could’ve played instead. I think it is helpful to play against a physical person because you can talk with them about the mistakes you made at the end of the game. Since my grandma is a beginner player like me, I found it very helpful when I was able to share some of my thoughts with her at the end of each game and even teach her some things that I learned.

Currently, I have a rating of 167 on the rapid setting on chess.com. By the next post, I want to bring it up to 230.

Otherwise, since my last post, I have completed more lessons on chess.com and made myself an account on lichess.com. Lichess also has lessons. Though all of them are completely free, unfortunately, they don’t have the same instructional format that chess.com has, which I enjoy. The lessons on lichess don’t exactly teach you the information, but instead just give you practice problems relating to a specific topic.

On chess.com I covered lessons “Protect Your King” and “Active Pieces”. Protecting your king is very important as it is your opponent’s objective to capture it. A key aspect of protecting your king is castling. This article from chess.com explains castling very well. https://support.chess.com/article/266-how-do-i-castle After learning about castling and how effective this move is, I began using it very often in my games.

In the upcoming weeks, I want to mostly focus on playing games on a daily basis. Additionally, I want to finish the Opening Principles unit on chess.com. I want to explore the chess terms section on chess.com, looking at terms like blunder, bad bishop, and backward pawn as well. In my next post, I plan on writing about these terms and what I learned about them.

Lastly, for my next meeting with my mentor, I want to create a more specific list of questions and topics for us to discuss to help guide our meetings a bit better because I find that we sometimes jump a lot between topics.

Thanks for reading my in-depth post, see you in the next one.

In-Depth Post #2 2022

Hello and welcome back to my blog. This post will focus on my chess in-depth project.

It has been three weeks since my last post. In this time I have met with my mentor and with the use of online resources, I have learned how to play chess. I will elaborate more on the learning later in this post.

Now to answer some questions:

  • How did your mentor gain their experience/ expertise?

My mentor Igor, learned how to play chess in grade 1 when he began school. Back then he was living in Moldova, a small country by Ukraine, that at the time was still part of the USSR. Throughout his years in school, there was no technology that kids could immerse themselves in, so they had to find other ways to entertain themselves. Like kids these days, they would share similar interests and hobbies at the same time. “If everyone else was playing chess, you were playing chess. If everyone else was playing with their DIY slingshots, then so were you.” says Igor. He was a part of his school’s chess club, and he competed in multiple tournaments in the local area. In the early years, he mostly gained knowledge from either his friends, the school chess club, or books. However, later on, the internet became a resource that he could use. Now, he has been playing chess for 40 years and it has become a hobby that he really enjoys.  Today he has a rating between 1600-2000 depending on the website and setting that he is playing in.

  • What were those experiences like for your mentor?

As a kid Igor really enjoyed chess. It allowed him to connect with his friends and also make new friends. Additionally, it was a great way for him to exercise his brain and he always found it interesting to learn something new. After school, lots of the kids in the neighbourhood would gather outside and play chess against each other. To this day he still cherishes those memories.

  • What wisdom have you gained from your mentor so far?

I have only met with my mentor once so far, however, we had one interaction that I found insightful. When we were discussing some of my progress so far, I mentioned playing against other people online. He suggested that in settings I set it so I play people a similar ranking to mine, because if I play people a lot better than me I won’t find the games very interesting and I might even be discouraged, and if I play people a lot worse than me then I’ll win most of the time and I won’t learn anything from them. He said that the most learning comes from playing people similar to my ranking.

  • What have you learned so far, in terms of facilitation strategies, that might contribute to your own development as a mentor?

In the second half of my mentor and I’s first meeting, we discussed some simple endgames. We looked at the chessboard and we began examining some scenarios together. If I wasn’t understanding something he would let me play it out with the pieces. For me personally, it helped a lot. Additionally, I liked that he wouldn’t just recite information to me, instead, he had us play the pieces and discover skills as we went. I think that this perfectly encapsulates the “show don’t tell” facilitation method. Obviously, it’s important to explain ideas, however, I think that’s very helpful when the student is able to try out some things on their own first and then redirected and explained new ideas afterwards.

  • Report on any progress and sub-skills learned so far.  Share photos, videos and sound recording where applicable.

I have begun my chess journey by downloading the Chess.com app on my phone and creating an account, so I can track my progress. On Chess.com I have completed the New to Chess lessons. These lessons taught me the basics of chess. I really like how these lessons are laid out because they have video portions that teach you the skill and then portions where you get to practice the skill. In the “Playing the Game” lesson, I learned some very interesting rules like the stalemate, en passant, and castling.

Currently, I’m on the opening principles lesson, and I have completed 34% of it. The only downside of this website is that it only allows you to complete one lesson a week, without paying for some membership.

On this website, I have also been playing the daily puzzles and playing against computer bots. I played a few times against real people however as a beginner I need more time to think through my moves, and the timer stresses me out. This results in me making bad moves that I instantly regret because I rush. Being a beginner I totally understand that making mistakes is great so that you can learn from them, but I find not playing against a clock much more enjoyable. Additionally, I have been playing against my grandma. It has been a fun way for us to hang out and for me to apply my newly learned skills.

Over the next two weeks, I want to finish the lesson on opening principles as well as possibly watch a youtube video on openings. I also want to explore lichess.com, as it is a very popular chess website.

Thanks for reading, see you soon.

Introductory In-Depth Post 2022

Chess 101: All the Chess Piece Names and Moves to Know - 2022 - MasterClass

The In-Depth project is something that the TALONS program does every year. Each student picks a topic/skill that they want to learn about and pursue over the next five months. This learning is done in each student’s free time, and they report back on their progress every three weeks or so with the use of their blog posts. This year I picked chess as my In-Depth topic. I picked chess for three reasons: I’ve wanted to know how to play chess since I was little, I hope that in the future this skill will open doors and be the spark of new relationships, and it improves your cognitive skills, attention span, and memory capacity.

Over the next five months, I will learn the basics of the game: the rules, how the board is set up, how to move the pieces, how to capture pieces, and how to win the game. After learning the basics, I’ll be able to start playing the game. From there I will learn basic tactics, and simple endgames, always reinforcing my learning by playing as many games as possible. Once I get quite proficient at playing, I will memorize learn chess notation as this will open the door to a lot more resources for me. Finally, I will study basic openings and intermediate tactics. These are the big ideas I want to cover over the next five months. By the end of the five months, I want to have achieved a rating between 600 and 800. I will be playing chess on an online website called chess.com, which makes it easy to track your rating and your progress. A lot of my learning will also come from analyzing the games I play on my own and with my mentor.

For my final project, I will participate in a chess tournament. I will use everything that I learned over the five months to play to the best of my abilities. My goal is to win a few games in the tournament. After the tournament, I will look back at the games I played and analyze them. I’ll acknowledge the good things that I did and the bad things. This analysis will be part of my final presentation. My final presentation will be in the form of a website and demonstrate my journey. Additionally, at the end of my project, I will rewatch one of my favourite TV shows, Queen’s Gambit, which is centred around a girl who plays chess. I will specifically analyze the last game she plays in the series and write my thoughts about it.

I will be learning how to play chess with the use of many online resources, and my mentor. My mentor’s name is Igor. He is one of my parents’ long-time friends, and my family is very close with his family. Igor has a passion for chess and plays daily. His chess rating is above 2000, which is the rating of a national master. Igor lives near me, so I will be able to meet at his house to play chess. I think that he will be able to help me in my journey tremendously.

I will begin my learning and report back in a few weeks on my progress.

Eminent Learning Centre – Tavi Gevinson

Hello everyone! My name is Tavi Gevinson, and I have been given the privilege this year of speaking at the TALONS 2021 eminent night.

If you want to learn more about my life and how I was able to impact teenage girls around the world, click here. It will take you to my magazine, the Rookie Mag.

Once you have finished reading this month’s issue on my eminence feel free to ask any questions you have for me in the comments section.

Partner Interview Reflection

Partner Interviews:

Through the process of interviewing a peer, I was able to practice my interviewing skills and learn what my strengths and weaknesses were. While interviewing Draedon I felt calm and confident. I was told by Dylan that I had great expression in my voice and good hand motions too. However, I was told that at times I didn’t seem fully invested in the interview because of the tone in my voice and I was fidgeting with my pencil. Another thing that I did well on were my questions and my followups. I think did well on this because I prepared my questions beforehand. The last thing I noticed I could improve on was watching my filler words. This is something that I have been trying to improve for a while now.

Eminent Interview Update:

Over the past week, I have been struggling to find a person to interview. I have attempted to email my eminent person, however, Tavi Gevinson doesn’t have any of her personal contact information online, not even her PR team. I was only able to find multiple very uncredible-looking websites where you had to pay money to book supposed celebrities for events. From here I’m not sure where to go. Tavi Gevinson doesn’t have an organization to her name or professors that have dedicated their lives to learning about her work. It has just recently come to my mind to try and find some of the teenage girls that helped write the Rookie magazine and attempt to contact them.

Thanks for reading my post.

Eminent Introductory Post Reflection

Through the process of receiving feedback and reading my peers’ posts, I was able to learn about many inspirational figures in history and how I could improve for the future. All of the posts I read were done exceptionally well. Each post had attributes that I wished my post had too. I was particularly exhilarated by the way Xylia wrote about Malala Yousafzia’s struggle for women’s education rights. Other key aspects that elevated her post were her language and the way her sentences flowed with each other. I have always known a little about Malala’s story, as I owned her book, however, I never got around to reading it. After reading Xylia’s post, I have been considering picking it up. With regards to the comments, I was able to learn what others enjoyed in my post and some critiques on how I could improve it. Most of the people enjoyed the use of images, as it helped break up the text a bit, and made it easier to read. Multiple comments informed me that I didn’t cite my sources in APA style, which I had completely forgotten to do. Julianne had also brought to my attention that I could’ve related my research on Tavi a bit more to my goals as a TALONS student. Overall, I really enjoyed this experience and I am looking forward to learning more about these eminent people in the upcoming month.

Eminent Introductory Post – Tavi Gevinson

Tavi Gevinson, 2013

Tavi Gevinson isn’t a name that everyone might know, however it’s one that influenced many teenage girls. This year for my eminent person project I chose to research Tavi Gevinson, a fashion blogger, feminist, and fashion icon who began her own fashion blog called the Style Rookie at the age of eleven, as a cause of boredom. In 2008, she began her blog by posting photos of her in getups that looked like she had just rummaged through her parents’ closet and her commentary on the latest fashion trends.

Her blog was written and edited so well that she struggled with criticisms that believed it was fake and was written by other people. Her blog quickly began to gain a lot of attention, attracting nearly 30,000 readers each day, which soon grew to 50,000. From there her rise to stardom was quick, being invited to front row seats at the biggest fashion shows around the world. However, her fame didn’t come without challenges. Being seated next to fashion journalist and Vogue chief editor, Anna Wintour, at a fashion show, put things into comparison.

Tavi Gevinson with Anna Wintour

People in the fashion industry had mixed feelings about Tavi, as some were unbothered by her and her opinions. For example, Valerie Steele said “The designers that she admires are the designers I focus on, however, her blog would be unremarkable if she were not thirteen years old. If she were twenty-three we’d say, ‘Yeah. Who cares?’” Though I might agree with Valerie, I believe that writing articles that addressed complex ideas as a young teen is no easy feat and she should be awarded for her accomplishments. In my opinion, Tavi’s creativity and independence is one that I look up to and aspire to have.

Grade 8 and sits front row at Christian Dior’s Haute Couture fashion show in 2010

In 2011, at the age of 14, she founded the Rookie magazine which switched focus from just fashion to other issues that impacted teenage girls. The Rookie Magazine had a different theme each month and most of the articles were written by teenage girls and featured guest contributors. Gevinson was interviewed by many news outlets and even wrote articles for Harper’s Bazaar and Barneys.com. In 2012, Tavi spoke at TedxTeen about the representation of teenage girls in pop culture and spoke at The Economist’s World Festival. Called the “future of journalism” by Lady Gaga, she had become a global sensation. No longer a timid, young blogger, Tavi had a unique, confident, journalistic voice.

Tavi Gevinson at the Met Gala, 2016

Being a famous teen didn’t come without it’s challenges. For Tavi it was difficult to “fit-in” in high school and in an interview she said that she worried that her awkwardness and shyness would come off as though she’s better than everyone, which was completely not the case. We also know that Tavi struggled with fear as in an interview she said “… fear is something that holds me back a lot. The pendulum just kind of swings side to side so after I have periods of depression where I do hit rock bottom and feel extremely fearful, then I just know how horrible it is and eventually feel bored enough of the feeling that I feel extra motivated. And then it’s more like the fear of missing out on something totally outweighs the fear of what could happen if I take a risk.”

I personally feel connected to her because we’re both teenage girls (at the time she was writing the Rookie) and we both have a passion for fashion. As learners we also both have a tendency to get extremely invested in one of our crafts, so much that it can take over our lives. For example, the Rookie magazine would publish three time a day, once after school, once after dinner, and once before bed!

Moving forward, I’m excited to dive deeper into the impact that Tavi’s blog and magazine had on others. As a part of my research I would like to read some more of her old articles, as I think it will give me more depth into the kind of voice she had. I will also try to reach out to people that knew her, or helped her in her journey (as well as Tavi herself, though I’m not sure she’ll get back to me), to better understand her as a person.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.

Citations

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2012/dec/09/tavi-gevinson-fashion-blogger

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/20/tavi-says

https://fashionista.com/2012/07/how-a-convo-with-anna-wintour-contributed-to-tavi-gevinsons-disillusion-with-fashion-and-other-revelations