“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!

National Chess Meetup Day

Warren and I are always looking for local chess events that we can attend.  To our surprise there really aren’t too many!  There was a group that met at Barnes & Noble in Roswell.  That group stopped a year ago.  We noticed chess.com has partnered with meetup.com to create a national chess meetup day.  We are excited to find an event located in our area!

Starbucks is only 10 minutes from our house.  The sun was shining early, so we had all the makings for a good morning!  It was a little cool.  We shivered through it and enjoyed a few hours of playing chess.  At one point we had as many as five games being played at once!  I had the pleasure of playing Henry, Dave, and Krish and losing to each of them.  I did have one victorious rematch.  I noticed that everyone was sure to acknowledge they were beginners before starting a game.  You could slowly start to see who has been playing chess for years!  Chess tournaments can be extremely competitive.  This relaxed atmosphere of casual chess games was a lot more enjoyable for me.

I personally enjoyed meeting local chess enthusiasts and would love to keep this group going.  Does anyone have ideas of locations in the Kennesaw/Marietta area that might allow 10 – 20 players to play chess comfortably for a few hours?  It sounds like we missed a few people unable to make it in the morning.  Maybe we can meet one Saturday morning each month and one weekday evening a month to accommodate all schedules.  Warren and I created a Chess Made Fun Facebook page.  We will post chess events in our area.  Be sure to click on the link and “Like” our page.  We will send you invitations to all events so you do not miss out on an opportunity to get your brain workout!

Astrophysicist planning his next move!
For those of you who don’t remember that cool April morning at Starbucks in 2011, take a close look at the pictures.

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Tough Competition

Since Warren taught me how to play chess, he decided it was finally time for me to play in my first rated Chess Tournament.  We traveled to the North Georgia Chess Center that is run by Joe Couvillion and his wife.  They have a rated tournament every Friday night.

Upon first walking in the center I noticed lots of young chess prodigies waiting patiently to see who will be walking away with the bragging rights of the night!

Although I have most of them beat in age alone I know much better to think that my wisdom will help me conquer their young chess minds!

My first opponent which I will with hold the age to help save my “pride” was a 1400+ rated player. Not being an expert in the rating system I wasn’t quite sure what that meant.  Then 20 minutes later I had a much better idea. 1400+ means she could checkmate me in less than 20 moves, beautifully use opening moves that not only threaten pieces with a single attack but also double and triple attacks while keeping each of her pieces carefully protected.

Wow the game left me speechless especially to find out later that she has only been playing for a year and is not even out of middle school! I shook her hand congratulating her on a great game. To her I was just another pawn helping her achieve a better rating.

I had plenty of time before my next match would start seeing how my first opponent didn’t need her full hour to bet me.

Round two I found out that I would be playing a 1000+ rated player and this girl was still in elementary school.  She was tough competition and when I made one blunder I knew it was the end of the game for me under 50 moves and 40 minutes later she made her final move with this look of determination and a slight smile as she said “checkmate”!

Wow… I can’t even express the amount of pride that I felt for both of the girls that claimed their victory.

My final match was against a young boy who was only five years old.  He was the youngest player in the center that evening,  but that didn’t keep him from making clean opening moves activating his pieces, while he also notated each move he made on his own score pad, and concentrated on each move he made.

He resigned the game after I captured his queen and I was able to walk away with one victory that night.  Secretly I know he was beyond tired and was just not interested in finishing the game but it does make me wonder if he had not resigned what the actual outcome would have been:)

All in all I had a great evening and enjoyed meeting new players of all ages.  I also have a lot more perspective of what I need to do to help better my overall chess game.

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The Early Days

I remember when Warren and I were dating he would talk about this chess center that he enjoyed going to.  He mentioned a few tournaments he played where a younger kid might come close to beating him, so this is when he decided he was going to become a stronger player, take lessons and practice a lot more.

The first thing he decided he could do to play more chess was recruit me! To this day I am so glad he did.

One of the reasons I think we both LOVE to play chess is because you can literally play a game anywhere.  We have a travel Chess set that we leave in his truck.  If we are at a park on a nice day, or camping for the weekend we will pull out the set and play a few games.

I think one of the coolest games we have played was in the bed of his truck inside of Atlanta Motor speedway during the “Middle” two hundred laps of a NASCAR race.

At home we play a few games throughout the week as well as work on tactics and puzzles to help our game.  Typically we will start a game make 10-20 moves and then leave the game for a few days and come back with a fresh strategy   (doesn’t always help the endgame).

I attended a FIDE Workshop in Atlanta to become certified as a developmental instructor. I now work as a chess coach with multiple schools teaching kids from ages 5-12.

One of the first schools I worked for started a new program last fall.  It was amazing to watch 22 kids, more then half who have never even played chess before in just ten weeks playing and checkmating their opponent.   It would be hard to find a game that you can teach your children that provides as many lasting benefits as chess does!

Where is the most adventurous place you have played a game of chess?

Alexandra Kosteniuk 2009 FIDE Womens Workshop with “The Chess Queen” Alexandra Kosteniuk