“Chess is Child’s Play”

With all of the chess literature developed through history and to date, any chess enthusiast knows there are countless resources available. It would seem that becoming a chess coach is an easy enough possibility. Becoming a chess coach with only basic knowledge of the game however can feel a bit more challenging.  Warren and I had the honor and good fortune of meeting and working with Carolina Blanco. Carolina is a top women’s  international master and proved to be an invaluable asset for the training we desparately needed. For those of you interested in learning and coaching chess without a F.I.D.E. master in your telephone contact list — let’s talk.  Chess Made Fun finally found a tool that anyone can use without being overwhelmed with complex diagrams and games shown in what would appear to be some type of code: d4,e5 etc.

One month ago I opened in my hands for the first time ever a chess book written for the “Average Joe”. Warren and I sat down immediately after reading through a single chapter. We repeated this process after each chapter. Instead of trying to teach chess all in one sitting, each chapter uses a new concept of teaching chess called “mini-games”. This method seems so completely simple! Let me emphasize SIMPLE! Warren taught me to play chess in 2009.  Since that time we have searched through hundreds of websites, hundreds of books or chess blogs determined to find something that we could use or understand. As it happened, we decided to stop searching and start developing our own materials.  Well, as I have been told many times throughout my life when you stop searching for what you are looking for it will find its way to you. Once again, this rang true when we randomly connected with Laura Sherman through social media.  It seems crazy that technology allows random paths to cross in our everyday world! (Ironically, that is how Warren and my paths crossed, and I am so grateful for that everyday)!

Laura just released a book called Chess is Child’s Play written with Bill Kilpatrick. I encourage any person who would like to play chess with young or old minds to purchase this book. You too will be surprised how easy it is to learn and how easy it is to teach chess to anyone of any age!!  Thank you Laura for writing our most cherished coaching tool yet!  For you those of you who would like to learn more from the author who laid this golden egg, this is a quick video introduction to the book by Laura herself.  Good luck Laura as your book sales take off!  We look forward to purchasing these books for our local chess events soon!

Chess Is Child’s Play is a book designed to teach parents how to teach very young kids to play chess. Laura Sherman is a freelance writer and chess coach.  Together with her husband, Dan, she founded Your Chess Coach in Florida. They enjoy teaching dozens of children the wonders of chess!

To “Chess” or not to “Chess”?

I’ll never forget that day…”Play chess with me?” my friend asked. I immediately froze. Chess??? Me??? I started making a list in my mind of all the reasons I couldn’t play.

“Chess is for intelligent people…Mensa awardees and old men that have studied stocks and statistics for years. It takes a long time to play one game, and individuals take 20 minutes to make a move. These are not great combinations for someone like me…I’m loud, I lack strategically planned attacking skills, I talk fast at times, and my thoughts outrun my mouth. Why on earth would someone ask me to play chess? Do I come across as a calm person? They must have lost their minds. Oh well, I love obliging insanity.

Guess WHAT? Yes, she proved me wrong. Chess is my new favorite game. Although, I’m still much better at Charades, Pictionary, or Taboo, Chess is challenging me and stretching my mental and physical faculties as well as providing a quick reprieve from the hustle and bustle of life. In less than 3 months, I can see my brain changing. Call me crazy! I know all the names of the pieces now. (You can laugh here, feel free!) I know how each one moves, who is the strongest, weakest, and how to protect my king, and much more. All this from playing no more than 1 to 2 hours a week, starting out with NO prior knowledge. Sometimes, we play 10 minute “blitzes”…we’d have those old men in the movies toupees flying off as fast as we play!

My point is…Chess is Fun! We make it fun for all ages. The things I’ve learned I can now teach to 6 and 7 year olds…imagine the chess masters we will have in 10 years! Chess will only enhance their minds to go above and beyond in all they do.

“Wanna play chess with me?”

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Marietta and Kennesaw Chess Family Fun

Our first Chess Square One, designed for absolute beginners, children and their (grand)parents.

“I think our society would benefit in many ways if parents spent the time to teach their children chess. The bonding experience alone is amazing and the skills kids get from the game will help them in life. Plus their immediate schooling would be enhanced,” Laura Sherman, Tampa, FL, author of Chess is Child’s Play.

Chess Square One idea is this, it provides (grand)parents – even those who are not familiar with chess yet – with a simple and effective method (I developed for Kennesaw State University) for teaching their kids, plus free counseling and mentoring down the road!

This is a great way everybody spends some quality time together, family bonding and having fun. Think Family Game Night! Leave your digital devices alone for a short while and have some real good time together.

Tell your family and friends about this great (and free) opportunity to learn the basics of chess, the best game ever invented.

To promote chess and make it accessible to more people, we will be rotating places and times, covering north and northwest of metro Atlanta: Marietta, Kennesaw, Smyrna, Vinnings, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Roswell, Alpharetta (let me know if you may have in mind a specific place and time for organizing Chess Square One in your neighborhood!).

Good chess to you all!

coach Momir

www.iplayoochess.com

Mentoring Madness

We want to let you know about a new group we organize in Atlanta called the Laboratory for Intergenerational Learning.  These are questions members wish to ask of one another:

  1. What style of learning would be most effective for your child, student, resident, patient or loved one?
  2. What physical, visual, motor or cognitive impairments are important to manage?
  3. Would a therapeutic recreational activity enhance your care setting or lifestyle in some way?
  4. What kinds of specialized training in cognition or memory care might interest you?
  5. Are you curious about intergenerational learning opportunities?

These are the top categories we are targeting for membership:

Alzheimer’s Disease · Parenting & Family · Mental Health Counselors · Social Gaming · Early Diagnosis Dementia · Caregivers to Seniors · Family Outdoor Recreation · Sandwich Generation · Adults Taking Care of Aging Parents · Young Onset Alzheimer’s Disease · Occupational Therapy · Holistic Health · Cognitive Behavior Therapy – CBT · Improving Memory · Autism and Asperger’s

As a sidenote, our Facebook community group, Intergenerational Learning, is worldwide, so we welcome you, your staff and volunteers to share ideas with us about social mentoring and group learning. We sincerely hope to continue building relationships together outside our region and look forward to future conversations.

The organizers are very new to the aging services community, but truly feel the wonderful game of chess can and will benefit families and groups.  The game of chess is being unearthed in a new and balanced way to improve social interactions. Chess is being adapted to exploit metacognition (learning to learn) and situational analysis.  As a result, family relationships may be strengthened and channels to personal growth developed. “Chess Therapy” as its been called builds on strong breakthrough energies as the power of the game becomes a gateway to understanding the natural world.

If you have a taste for intrigue, or learning about chess for the very first time (we hope you are), we encourage you to explore the game of chess through a Canadian television series released in 2011 called Endgame. Shown in the series as a set of “life lessons”, we hope you enjoy Endgame as much as we have.  The game’s enduring principles have been handed down through tireless generations in search for what lies beneath the surface in so many aspects of our lives.  This is a social mentoring program for creating intergenerational bonds that we feel are so important with an increasingly aging society that will soon be lost.

Through life’s journey we may reflect on and refine our decisions.  Life is a game, but not one of chance.  It is a struggle for balance, simplicity, interdependence and goodwill. The process of learning the game of chess even still is experimental and is really a laboratory for learning the game of life.  The endgame has no end in sight.  Chess offers a lifetime of opportunity to learn, enjoy and teach this truly remarkable game.

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The game of chess is being unearthed in a new and balanced way to improve social interactions.
Chess painting by Elke Rehder

A laboratory for learning awaits us here.

New Frontiers

I’ve been offered a lot of encouragement from the staff at a nursing center and family members to continue to grow our community outreach.  The center offers physical therapy and cares for patients who require a brief stay to recover from surgery.  The center also offers long-term care for those experiencing memory, mobility or other physical challenges.  Dedication and patience has been a key ingredient in working with these folks.  We’ve taken a step back since publishing New Tricks in Their Final Stages last year discussing hospice care and have set some time aside to talk about some of the latest happenings with Chess Made Fun.

Family involvement is the cornerstone of what we bring to our community.  Working with residents’ families has been an inspiration without the need for setting mental goals and instead letting the process of learning chess unfold on its own.  Participation has increased during the last several weeks and is more consistent that ever.  Although we are “ginnie pigging” our experimentation with aging communities the time has been well spent and feel we are breaking some new ground here.  Our activity director at the center has even gone so far as to say that she would like to see “bingo night” slowly phased out and replaced with games like chess that are more mentally stimulating than games of chance.  She is discussing this idea with members of the National Council of Certified Activity Professionals (NCCAP) during their annual convention held in Virginia Beach, VA this year.

Although games like bingo are games of chance, Chess Made Fun stands by its purpose in making any activity fun and familiar and makes prizes or even tournament play an important aspect to keep interest in the games as high as we can.  Mini-games like the Pawns Game allow everyone to win almost everyday!  Inter-generational play is also made possible through the involvement of local chess clubs throughout Georgia.  It so happens that one of our residents is a computer specialist and tutors special needs kids.  One of his students is an aspiring chess player and wants to join in the fun working with the elderly at the nursing center.

We will continue to track participation and progress with our chess program and may even publish some relevant metrics should we decide to pursue further research in the area of recreation therapy.

LinkedIn

Let’s talk paws …

Warren and I decided to adopt a dog after moving into our apartment community in Alpharetta, GA.  As dog lovers we knew adoption was the right option for us.  Like many things, we were thorough in our search visiting multiple shelters throughout the metro Atlanta.

The task of timing our search with Warren’s birthday a few years ago allowed plenty of time to research the proper dog training techniques and resources I thought might be best for our small two-bedroom apartment we occupied back then.

With only 30 minutes to closing at the Cobb County Humane Society — even after looking for two weeks — nothing could have prepared us for Kelly.  As soon as Kelly looked into my eyes, I immediately called Warren over. When he stepped around the corner he looked at her and said, “what do we need to do to adopt her?”.

With house training on the list of details — we didn’t even hesitate.  I love it when Warren and I make these decisions together.  It makes me feel proud.

Kelly has been an amazing pet and friend.  She is always greeting us at the door and waiting for us to put on our shoes. When we grab the leash she gets so excited she can barely stand it. She loves to curl up next to us when we are playing chess or relaxing.

Our dog Kelly has offered us unconditional love and in return she has it pretty easy 🙂

Chess Coach Needed in Atlanta

I know a reputable chess instructor who would like to add at least one new chess coach to work four afternoons per week to assist with chess in after-school programs.  Program times differ for each school, but only require being onsite each day for 1 1/2 hours.

The pay is weekly and private chess lessons will be offered to the person selected. Coaching candidates must be able to pass a school required background check and have experience working with groups of children.  Strong communication skills are a must.  These coaches must also be reliable.  Chess afternoon programs are set by each school and typically are 20 weeks per year.

The chess instructor also has summer camps that offer extra hours a few weeks in June and July.  If you are interested send me a brief description of your experience to ChessMadeFun@gmail.com

Please also pass along a resume and availability Monday – Friday.  I will pass your information on to the chess instructor hiring for this position.

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Chores Open Doors

Getting even one chance this year to visit my family in Texas has been tough.  Missing some important events earlier this year like my aunt’s funeral and my cousin’s wedding upset me quite a bit.  Something wonderful happened in June however.  My wife got a call from her Dad to let us know his frequent flyer miles were about to expire.  It so happened that he had enough credit to purchase each of us an airline ticket to travel to our respective family’s homes in Georgia and Texas.  Living in New Jersey since last fall has opened our eyes to many new things, but being away from my family since my wedding in 2010 has not been easy.

My grandmother in San Antonio was at the top of my list.  I knew her health had been failing a bit at a mere 91 years of age.  Little did I know after talking with her for a few days that she had had a mild stroke the year before.  My aunt had sent me a photograph of her in a temporary nursing home, but I had very little knowledge of why she was there.  Her ability to walk had been impaired.  She was taking medication and improving every week.  Her speech on the phone for several months had been noticeably less expressive and slower.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear her speak again like the grandmother I’ve known for a very long time after spending this time with her a few weeks ago.

An independent woman like my grandmother continues to manage most affairs of running a household.  Of course, my aunt is only a phone call away and for many years has lived no more than 80 feet away from her back door. Learning the news of  my grandmother’s recovery gave me more encouragement to re-introduce to her the game of chess.  She knew of the game through her father who was an avid player, but in that time chess was almost exclusively played by men of stature and perceived intellect.  I explained to her that chess does offer an intellectual challenge, but can be taught to anyone and practiced.

She thought this would be okay, but in exchange for her concentration to learn something new I first had to – you guessed it – a few chores around her house.

Learning the news of my grandmother’s recovery gave me more encouragement to re-introduce to her the game of chess. Playing chess can be enjoyed by anyone at any level of experience.

The Starting Line

Warren and I have stepped up to the starting line. We recently took a vacation back to Georgia! Upon coming home we have decided it is time to get our priorities in order.  First things first we need to get back in shape. One thing my family has always supported is a healthy life style. Fitness and Mental!

I remember in my early 20’s watching my sister completing the Chicago Marathon and thinking…. Wow!!! I was so proud of her.  When I decided to start jogging she was there to help me along.  I completed my first 12k with my sister, brother-in-law and family friend in St. Peter

sburg Florida.  Probably the best road trip I took that year. Marie and I then took a sister’s road trip to Nashville Tennessee and completed my first half Marathon! The moral of this story is — if I can do it so can most others.  It took a little training, time and determination.  I did decide that day 13.1 miles was a good milestone for me.  A full marathon was not my next goal.

Skinny is not a word in my body’s vocabulary.  Getting in shape however really did my body good!  Warren and I have been a pretty active couple compared to many.  Eating right, jogging, biking, and swimming has somehow been pushed aside these last few years since moving into our first apartment.  All of the top chess coaches I know emphasize that getting a brain workout everyday is important.  Just as important as getting one’s fitness workout in too.  Most top chess teams during competitions and training workout together.  I thought this was interesting when I first learned of it!  Now I understand it much better.  For the mind to con

centrate for long periods of time, the physical body plays a vital role supporting it.

I am a coupon lover!  I enjoy seeing daily deals from Groupon, Living Social and Amazon.  With a tight budget coupons even tend to feel more like window shopping these days.  Warren and I were so happy when we got back to New Jersey and received a daily deal from amazon for Escape Fitness.  This gym is only 5 minutes from our apartment and the deal included; 1 fitness assessment, 4 personal training sessions and 10 fitness classes.  This sounded like an offer we couldn’t refuse.

Yesterday we stepped up to the starting line with our personal trainer Alisha to complete our fitness assessment.  Did we pass? I think so because this journey will improve with time and taking the test was just the first step.  Saturday morning will be our first training session.  I look forward to recovery on Sunday.

Half Marathon Front
Probably the best road trip I took that year. Marie and I then took a sister’s trip to Nashville Tennessee and completed my first half Marathon! The moral of this story is — if I can do it so can most others.

New Tricks In Their Final Stages

pexels-photo-1152664-12010 was filled with emotion coming to grips with family members in risky health situations and even survival. My wife’s mother was recovering from major back surgery, and her grandfather was holding on after being diagnosed with stage-4 lung cancer that year. Unfortunately, within a few months, Leonard passed away during the Christmas holidays, so this was a trying time for her family.

The following summer, after she had some time to grieve, we decided to take what we had learned coaching chess in after-school programs and bring it into the healthcare community on a volunteer basis. Compassionate Care Hospice had recently expanded its service offering in locations around the US to include many events and activities centered around individual patient interests. Lin Tatum, our volunteer coordinator in Atlanta, thought chess would be an excellent and fun way to engage her patients. Our first new friend who will go unnamed was 91 and quite with it!  She played bingo and spoke a little.  The hospice chaplain thought she would enjoy chess. The other reason is that the facility was GREAT and welcomed regular appointments with their patients. Another man we met was not be capable of playing chess on his own, however his wife really enjoyed playing and has been looking after her hubby for a long time. He had been diagnosed as a Cardiac patient. She told us, “you never know, you might get him on a good day and he could play!!!!

Another woman we met was AWESOME…She was 89 (you would never know) and resided at Freedom Point of Roswell, another great facility. Proper dress attire was required (a polo shirt and khakis). They were all about us looking NEAT. This was another good facility for us to get our foot in the door. We spoke with the Activity director about setting up a time for any of the residents to play… Finally, another woman, 84, was TERRIFIC…She loved to play Wii bowling and loves puzzles, so we knew she would be up for CHESS. She resided at Atria of Johnson Ferry which was again a great place for us to get into for other residents.  Her daughter came around as she does sometimes.

Volunteering our time with Compassionate Care Hospice was a wonderful experience. We encourage you to try something new if you have already thought about doing something like this and have even included a volunteer application for their office in Atlanta, GA.

Depending upon each patient’s individual needs and condition, holistic therapy can be quite beneficial. It can meet a wide range of patient needs, including emotional, spiritual, cognitive, social and physical. Holistic therapies can be just as, if not more, effective in relieving various forms of pain and discomfort than traditional methods.

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Anniversary getaways

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Some people can say I started my week with a “Case of the Monday’s”. I have been struggling with some pretty life changing decisions with hopes of Warren and I to do well. The last few weeks have been a little tough to say the least. Such is Life! Something reminded me of our Wedding Day.

With this fall approaching fast. What are Warren and I going to do on our anniversary? It seems living in the North East and finding stable income would be easy.

Such is Life! I remember that on our special day. Due to budget constraints and logistics issues. There was not enough time for speech’s. Thankfully my older sister always came through as promised.

For any interested readers. Let me share the wedding speech she wrote on my behalf. I love you Marie! I can’t wait to see Lexi, Brent and you soon!

As Yvonne’s older sister, I have had the pleasure of knowing Bonnie her whole life. Those that were actually there when she came into this world unanimously say the same thing. The first thing you noticed about Yvonne was her bright blue full of life beaming eyes. Little did anyone just know how much a foreshadow that would be of the passion and zest for the way she lives life, and the way she cares for those she loves in life. I would dare say those that know Yvonne may also use the word “determined” to describe her at times. My little sister doesn’t back down. One of her most admirable traits: when she believes in something, or someone, you can count on her to not only to be by you side, but to fight for you with all of her enormous heart. Anyone that knows Yvonne is truly blessed to have her in your corner. Well today, we are here to talk about a new light in her eyes, and a new determination. Warren, from the day you met Yvonne, she beamed when she spoke about you. Was it love at first sight for the two of you? Well I’m not sure about that, but I am sure that you have always challenged her, that you your willngness to be adventurous and active excites her. I am sure that there is a new spark in her eye that you have created, a new passion for life that you have inspired. And for that, I thank you because this is what my little sister deserves. And here is where I decided during the ceremony that I had to edit this speech. I realize during the ceremony that I would also have to say, this light from Bonnies eyes must also be contagious, because I saw it in your eyes today Warren, and that makes me so happy for the two of you. And in return, there is no doubt in my mind, that she will provide to you a level of determination and dedication that will bolster the strength of your marriage, that will sustain your Love through every up and more importantly, every down. Love is not a cliche, it is work, it is fun and a happy marriage will be the best journey of your life. Let’s raise a toast and celebrate the beginning of this journey for Mr. And Mrs. Warren White.

What’s Out There?

In a first of it’s kind research project called the Nun Study, a convent of nuns donated their brains to science to further the study of Alzheimer’s disease. Mentally active until death these women showed no visible signs of dementia despite brain scans with advanced chemical changes that cause Alzheimer’s.

My wife and I are very interested in becoming active participants in the fight against cognitive dysfunction and memory loss in senior communities with particular attention to stronger and lasting family bonds.

Without any formal clinical training, we decided to begin a chess initiative with young children in Atlanta in 2010 working with an International Chess Master in after-school programs.  Although we have found numerous accounts of research conducted with kids to strengthen cognitive function, we are curious to learn what independent research exists in the senior community in a chess learning environment.

The Nun Study from the National Institute on Aging is what we have to date, so we would like to propose an idea.  First, has your research center collected any relevant data in a clinical setting that supports the need to institute a chess learning program in the senior community?  If not, would your center have a desire to do so?  If so, how would the center garner willing participants to conduct a study like this?

If you see some potential here, or at least have some interest in a study on the topic of chess learning as a form of holistic therapy, feel free to contact me to discuss some possibilities.  We would like to become members of the Georgia Area Therapeutic Recreation Association as a valued source for information sharing among professionals working in Georgia.

The Nun Study of Aging and Alzheimer's Disease is a continuing longitudinal study, begun in 1986, to examine the onset of Alzheimer's Disease. David Snowdon, the founding Nun Study investigator, originally began his research at the University of Minnesota, but moved it to the University of Kentucky in 1986. In 2008, with Dr. Snowdon's retirement from the University of Kentucky the study returned to the University of Minnesota. Similar environmental influences and general lifestyles make the nuns an ideal population to study, and although it is ongoing it has yielded several findings.
The Nun Study of Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease is a continuing longitudinal study, begun in 1986, to examine the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. David Snowdon, the founding Nun Study investigator, originally began his research at the University of Minnesota, but moved it to the University of Kentucky in 1986. In 2008, with Dr. Snowdon’s retirement from the University of Kentucky the study returned to the University of Minnesota. Similar environmental influences and general lifestyles make the nuns an ideal population to study, and although it is ongoing it has yielded several findings.