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Chess Starts With The Basics

posted Friday, September 19, 2014

Written by Laura Sherman of YourChessCoach.com and Bill Kilpatrick

Chess is taught by starting with the basics and building from there. It has to be done step by step. It is a big mistake to skip ahead too quickly with new strategies or techniques, when the more basic concepts are not well understood by a young chess player.

Teaching “checkmate” is a perfect example.

Coaches quickly learn it’s a big challenge to teach children the concept of checkmate.

We have found that many beginners have trouble checkmating their opponents despite having an overwhelming advantage of pieces on the chess board. So how do you teach this seemingly basic concept?

Break it down! Simplify it! Pull checkmate apart into little pieces that can be learned, one at a time.

The first step is to drill easier concepts with your students. How do you attack a chess piece? When is a piece in danger? How do you trap a piece? There are dozens of such exercises that are needed in order to fully prepare the student to understand and apply the concept of checkmate.

Once they have these components down, they must be able to recognize when the king is in check and understand that concept fully. Quiz them on the number of escape squares the king has. This usually requires a bit of drilling, but there will come a point where the student knows it, really knows it.

Being able to recognize when a student has a concept and is able to move on is also important. The last thing you want to do is rehash something over and over that they already understand. There’s a certain look that a student gets when they fully understand something. Watch for that look, that confident gleam in their eye.

Now they will have an easier time grasping checkmate. Show them many examples. Stick with exercises that are checkmate in one move, starting with extremely easy and basic positions. The more you drill these with your student the faster they will pick up the themes and be able to recognize reoccurring patterns.

Checkmate needs to be drilled regularly and often. The result will be that your students will take advantage of more opportunities on the board and you will have a strong foundation from which to move forward.

Laura Sherman founded Your Chess Coach (YourChessCoach.com) with her husband, Dan Sherman. Together they teach children to play chess through various schools in Pinellas County, Florida, as well as privately in students’ homes and online. Your Chess Coach is devoted to teaching chess to children of all ages, giving them the many life skills that the game offers. Bill Kilpatrick, founder of several professional specialty schools, brings an entrepreneurial spirit to chess coaching. Together they provide consulting around the globe helping improve the ability of coaches, parents and educators to teach chess to children.


Why Chess Should Be a Part of Every Child’s Education

posted September 3, 2014

Written by Laura Sherman of YourChessCoach.com

Imagine a world where people all have excellent problem solving skills, where they are patient and respectful of each other on a daily basis. A society where citizens live for the future and plan long term, thinking of where their children’s children will be, following through, seeing each goal to its conclusion with ease. Now add to that an indefinable quality of artistic imagination, dreaming for more than can be reasonably expected, reaching beyond the status quo.

Chess can teach our next generation all these skills and more!

I learned chess when I was young and to this day I see the world as a giant chess game where any barrier can be conquered and any victory can be achieved. No goal is impossible and when I have a target in sight there is no stopping me. The same glint I had in my eye when I faced an opponent at a chess tournament still exists today when I face a challenge, along with the insouciant grin that comes from the pure joy of the experience.

Intuitively most would agree that chess improves a student’s grades and ability to study. Numerous studies have been done over the years throughout the world that show this to be the case. IQ increases, reading test results improve as do math and science scores. However there are so many other skills children pick up naturally from learning and becoming good at chess.

Imagination is a must in chess. You cannot form strategies and tactical plans without being able to envision your goals. It is impossible to win a game without first imagining the victory. You are the one to make the chess pieces dance to the rhythm you choose. Without the player the pieces just sit dormant on a dusty board.

A child’s self confidence soars as the victories pile up, especially when that child can routinely trounce adults. Allow that child to teach other children or perhaps even the adults and he or she will master the game quickly. Nothing helps someone learn faster than teaching others and nothing does more for one’s pride than to see someone improve under one’s tutelage.

In order to achieve a victory one must consistently play well throughout the game. You can make forty excellent moves and one thoughtless blunder and lose the game instantly. As a result you quickly learn to be thorough in your analysis and patient with your moves. Imagine if we all applied this little lesson to our daily lives. Thoughtless comments, heat of the moment bursts of anger, crimes of passion might just become things of the past to be studied as a part of a history lesson.

If every parent initiated regular family chess nights and if every school taught chess as part of their daily lesson plan imagine where our country could be. Children naturally are drawn to chess. If you don’t believe me try an easy experiment. Go to an area populated with children, put out a chess set and see what happens. I promise you they will flock to the board and become immersed in a game. We all have the power to fuel our children’s existing passion for learning and help our next generation soar. Let’s make a difference!

This article was written by Chess Instructor Laura Sherman of YourChessCoach.com. Your Chess Coach is devoted to teaching chess to children of all ages, giving them the many life skills that the game offers.


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