Sunday, December 2, 2007

Richie's First Chess Lesson

We had Alyssa's school chess teacher, Michael, come to our house to give the kids a chess lesson. Alyssa has been in his after-school class since the start of the school year. Richie, who is in Pre-K at the same school is not in the same class since the starting age is Kindergarden. I had talked to Michael after class about enrolling my son since he started to show interest in the game a few months ago. When he started trying to teach to our nanny, and some kids we had over for a play-date chess, I figured he was ready to ge some instruction himself. But Michael said he needed to see Richie himself since in his experience kids don't usually have a long enough attention span to benefit much from 1 hour lessons until they're a little older. Anyway, after Richie continued to show interest, I decided to have a test lesson to see how it goes. Yesjavascript:void(0)
Save as Draftterday was the first one.

Michael began the lesson by explaining how the pieces moved. Throughout the lesson he used little rhymes to teach a point or he would animate the pieces (this bishop is a cow eating grass on this square, the rook comes and eats him, chomp chomp, but then this other rook says hey you just ate my cow, now I'm going to get you!) The kids liked that a lot.

I think he was a little surprised that Richie already knew how the pieces move, but when Richie started to get distracted by a toy on the table, I think he figured it out and moved on.

Next he explained the point value of the pieces. This was setting up a later discussion about whether or not a trade is a good trade. I haven't really emphasized this at all, that might explain why both kids have shown willingness to sac pieces for pawns.

After that he showed them a few basic checkmates and had them play a game. He pretty much directed them on which pieces to move. He did enforce touch-move and at one point Alyssa hung a bishop because she dropped it down on the wrong square and he allowed the play to continue. Richie captured and was up a piece. During the middle game several opportunities to initiate exchanges occured. Michael tried to have them count attackers and defenders to emphasize that if there were more attachers than defenders it was a good exchange sequence.

He introduced the rook battery, as well as making a few rules that he wanted them to follow such as always opening with the King pawns, moving knights and bishops before the queen, and castling early.

He flattered us by mentioning that he was pleased with Richie's grasp of the game already and said that it was rare to see such a young player pick up this quickly which he thought meant that Richie would probably take to the game well and could compete in the K-1 nationals later next year or the following.

He mentioned that he had one other student who he thought highly of that he'd like us to meet to set up a play date.

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