What needs to be done overseas?
Normally the delegations are not officially organized into travel groups, although if players wish to form groups for travel on a private basis, of course they are at liberty to do so and perhaps gain better prices.
Historically it has been found that people often wish to add a holiday on one or the other side of the tournament and do not wish to be restricted to the same travel plans.
The question often arises – is it safe to travel to this country?
Unfortunately there is no easy answer to this question and often it depends on your own preparedness to accept a level of risk. There are many countries with an elevated risk of terrorism, or war, but many delegations have traveled to them with no ill effect (although our U16 Olympiad team came very close to a bomb in Turkey in 2008.)
Some people argue that you can be hurt crossing the road outside your house, others that they are not prepared to put their child into extra danger.
The best thing to do is to visit the DFAT site:
where you can read travel advisories for all countries. Do some research on the internet and then decide what works for you.
Arriving at the tournament
A specific day is set aside for arrival and departure. Normally the point of arrival is expected to be at the closest airport and bus transfers are arranged from there to the hotel or playing venue, where registration will take place.
The management committee will notify the organizers of your arrival time and you will be met and transported. Sometimes you might be expected to wait a short while, until the bus is full or close to full with other arrivals.
At some tournaments you might be taken straight to the hotel and registration will happen later. At others your registration and taking of photographs will happen immediately.
However by the first day of play all members of the delegation should have a badge with a photo on it. Players will need to wear this to all rounds and it is usually needed to be shown at meals and to enable parents to enter the playing hall. How rigidly this is enforced varies from tournament to tournament.
This will be attended by the Team manager (head of delegation) and the head coach. If numbers are not restricted, then more of the coaches might attend.
This is where the delegations are checked to make sure everyone is in the right age groups and questions about the conduct of the tournament can be raised. E.g. access of parents to the playing hall, or any general arbiting conditions. If there are concerns about any aspect of the tournament, these should be raised with the team manager, prior to the technical meeting, and these can be raised at the technical meeting.
Children play as individuals (apart from events such as the U16 Olympiad). Every parent wants their child to do well and is keen to get coaching resources to enable them to do so.
However it is important to remember the children are there as a delegation, representing Australia. Being together and supporting each other helps to build morale and often reduces the stress of individual play.
Where a particular player is doing well and has a real medal chance, management committee might ask all the coaches to work together to help that particular player. Of course all players will continue to get coaching resources.
Socialising together and eating together are very important ways to enable team bonding. The management committee will also keep track of daily results and try and engender an interest in how the delegation is going e.g. the delegation % of wins for the day, rather than just focusing on an individual.
It can become stressful for a child and a parent if they are not doing as well as other delegation members. However results can be uneven, particularly in the younger age groups where not as many children are rated. Someone might win their first 3 games and someone else lose. By the end of the tournament the situation might have reversed, or both children might be on the same score.
The best attitude is to concentrate on your/your child’s performance only. Do not compare to anyone else or worry about results. Very few Australians make a top 10 finish – the most benefit from attending these tournaments is in the experience and improvement.
Coaching schedules have been set up, so each child knows when to be at the designated coaching place. People should be ready 10 minutes prior to their coaching time and wait quietly. No interference should happen in another child’s coaching session.
On completion of their game, each child should make their way to the designated analysis area. Analysis is normally on a first come, first served basis and a child should wait patiently for their coach to be free. It is often beneficial for children to watch analysis of other games and even take part in analysis, as long as this is not disruptive.
If a player has had an upsetting game e.g. blundering when winning, then they might prefer to wait until a later time for analysis. Sometimes being with other players, after an upsetting loss can be more beneficial than having a parent try to console them.
The management committee is responsible for delegation welfare overseas. This means they deal with the organizers and try to resolve general issues. E.g. it the transport is not working properly, they will try and resolve it. They are responsible for ensuring the code of conduct is adhered to and counseling any problem children or parents. Excessively competitive parents can often cause more problems, both for their own child and the delegation, than children do.
They will try and engender pride and team spirit.
However these are volunteer positions. The people on the committee have generously given their time, to make your experience easier and more pleasant. They are not your servants! Be prepared to sort out some of your own issues, if so requested. Try to be sensitive to the work that needs to be done and volunteer to help when possible. The management committee members also have children of their own, that they would like to look after and care for.
Taking your child to an overseas tournament is an incredible experience and one that you will look back on with pride and pleasure. Often friendships are made at these events that last for many years. With the easy access via internet, it is possible to keep friendships going with players from other countries.
There is access to a chess culture that is often missing in Australia and participating in these events can make a player really keen on improving their chess when they return to Australia.
Good luck with your application – the first step in your international adventure!