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?”

cropped-dscn0616-e1407690664570.jpg

 

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.

poster_art_exhibition_artists_books_Beeskow_Elke_Rehder
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.

DSCN0513

Anniversary getaways

dsc02800.jpg

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.

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.

wordpress statistics

Riding the Wave

Birds-view21-300x199Does chess have a stadium scoreboard?  Who’s leading?  Who’s catching up?  Yvonne let us know last week about her first experience participating in an actual chess tournament.  This got me thinking about her opponents who stood with her toe to toe.  Shoe sizes will grow of course and egos will shrink as young players gain experience.

Technology has a bigger and bigger role in tournament play with the advent of computerized chess boards.  Whether playing speed chess or positional chess, these computers track each players move in real-time.  I’ve connected with folks on Twitter who are pushing for more meaningful technology in schools.  This raises another thought – can opponents “breathe the same air” during a tournament as a computer decides who walks away champion?  I’ll do some research.

In the meantime here’s what I’m talking about.  Have you seen those chess magicians who play 20 games at once?  Why not in a tournament setting?  While tracking moves the computer knows the best move to make.  The computer also knows the worst move to make – somewhere in the middle is the player’s next move.  The player whose total score is highest wins!  Better make a lot of good moves…

Keep the competitive spirit alive!

wordpress statistics

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.

IMG_0240wordpress statistics