Friday, November 30, 2007

First Recorded Game

This is the first game I've recorded between Alyssa and Richie. I tried to avoid giving any advice except to point out rule violations (of which there were a few). About 5 moves into the game I started asking them to tell me after the opponents move whether any of their pieces were threatened. My idea is to gradually build up a move thought process and impress on them they should think a little before each move.

In response to my question before each move where I asked them to identify if the last moved piece could capture anything, they answered correctly about 25% of the time. I think they may be getting confused between whether it's a legal move or if it's a "good" move, meaning one that isn't immediately punishable by recapture. Of course they are looking at most 1 ply ahead.

At this point I ended the game. Richie was inconsolable because he thought he was losing and that I was helping Alyssa (even though he's actually winning). Not sure exactly how to get them to play out to checkmate. Maybe I need to start with fewer pieces, but the problem is that they like having the whole army.

Thanks to this tool, though, I showed the kids the game again and we talked about some of the opportunities each of them had to make better moves.

They thought seeing the game was cool and both want to play again! As a little test, I showed Alyssa the moves and asked her if she recognized the game, but she didn't. I guess that's not surprising. Once I told them that it was their game though, they were able to recall some of the things they thought of during the game. Neat.

The game was generated using this text PGN without headers:

{This is the first game between Alyssa and Richie that I've recorded} 1. e4 Nc6 {They're geniuses!}
2. Be2 Nf6 3. e5 Rg8 {I have told Richie that he should move his center pawns and
minor pieces before trying to move rooks, but he seems to have forgotten}
4. Nf3 b6 5. exf6 {I started asking if anything can be taken here and Alyssa spotted it} exf6
6. O-O {Alyssa has remembered to castle early} Nd4 7. Nxd4 d6
8. Bg4 Ba6 9. Re1+ Be7
10. Qe2 {After Qe2 I asked if anything could be taken. Richie spotted that the Bishop was attacked.
But then confused himself by asking if he could castle and got distracted} Rf8
11. Qd1 {Alyssa was paying attention, but didn't see the better move} Rb8
12. Nc3 h6 13. Ne6 {A daring foray. But there was no plan behind it as far as I can tell} Qc8
{Both said No when asked if anything was threatened}
14. Nd4 Qb7 {R: If you move your knight you can eat my Q!}
15. Ne6 {If at first you don't succeed, try, try again! Neither one can see Rook under attack} Ra8
16. {This is a critical point, they've both run out of ideas and don't know how to proceed, I made the suggestion
that A should move the minor piece that's furthest from the center, a variation on a blitz rule of thumb,
when in doubt reposition your worst piece} a3 {But she couldn't tell which one was furthest.
I said just move a pawn but not one in front of your king} d5 17. d3 c5 18. Nxd5 Rh8 19. d4 cxd4 20. b4 fxe6
21. Nxb6 Qxb6 22. Bxh6 gxh6 23. Rxe6 Qb5 {Here I showed a few variations of what could happen with different Q moves but
Richie got upset because he thought I was helping Alyssa and not him}
24. c4 Qxc4 25. b5 Bxb5
26. Rc1 Qd3 27. Qxd3 Bxd3 {Richie is inconsolable because he thinks he's losing when in fact he is
winning but I can't convince him. We ended the game here.}

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