I wrote up the following Top 10 list back in 2004 when I traveled to Tucson, Arizona to coach the Redwood Middle School team at the National Junior High School Championship. The above photo was taken outside of the playing hall. Do you see the cactus? Do you recognize any of the players? (Hint: they are all in 11th and 12th grade now.)
#10: Make sure every move has a purpose. A good move performs two functions at once (e.g. double attack). A great move does three things.
#9: After each move by your opponent, ask yourself: “Is he threatening anything?”
#8: Kids attack better than they defend. So A-T-T-A-C-K!
#7: If you don't know the opening, remember the opening rules.
#6: Don’t give up just because you blundered. Play hard and look for tricks--your opponent might mess up as well.
#5: Think of chess elements: material, space, time, center control and king safety.
#4: Look out for tAcTiCs!
#3: This deserves additional emphasis: *C*A*S*T*L*E* *E*A*R*L*Y*
#2: When winning, trade pieces but not pawns. When losing, avoid piece trades.
#1: T A K E - Y O U R - T I M E!!!