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!).
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:
What style of learning would be most effective for your child, student, resident, patient or loved one?
What physical, visual, motor or cognitive impairments are important to manage?
Would a therapeutic recreational activity enhance your care setting or lifestyle in some way?
What kinds of specialized training in cognition or memory care might interest you?
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.
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.
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.
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!
Well, it’s been just over a year since our last blog post. With the best of intentions the beat moves on. Everyday life is a thing of the past as I share new experiences with my wife in the Garden State. We moved from Atlanta, GA last fall to Southern New Jersey. To those of you here, Chess Made Fun is bringing chess to some of the newly explored locations along the Jersey Shore and wonderous outdoor parks!
Of course, what we’re really about is making new friends along the way. We thought we would share with you some of the places we’ve visited this year.
We’ve put some time aside to practice play and to network through Facebook with a few volunteer groups since our move. We’re getting back into full swing albeit a late start with summer activities already underway. Compared with the Southern US, outdoor activities seem to be more common with kids than adults. Community events however are very organized and we’re enjoying the ‘old world’ culture and feel of farmers markets and large volunteer drives without the need for corporate sponsorship and promotion found in larger cities. Southern New Jersey seems like a great place to have landed to spread the word about what we’re doing to help local communities.
Last weekend was something new for my wife and me. Yvonne’s aunt invited us several weeks ago to go horseback riding – we finally did. She also introduced us to Sandra Floyd. Sandra began a wonderful program in recent years that provides fun and excitement for kids who are physically handicapped. Sandra is amazing in more ways than one. She also teaches disadvantaged kids positive “life lessons” that many would never receive. With a huge bag of chess sets in tow Yvonne & I set off to find out more…
We met Sandra in the Talladega National Forest near the Alabama-Georgia border. Over the next couple of days she introduced us to many of her newly adopted kids ranging in age from 5 years all the way up to teenagers. Many of you know the record-setting tornadoes that pillaged this region only last week, but horseback riding had everyone’s attention. Fallen trees became an obstacle for us as we navigated through the winding and hilly trails. Mealtimes around the campfire allowed for storytelling and what else…chess!
We met Greg who was one of the older and wiser young men. He told us about his grandmother. It turns out that Greg’s grandmother was on top of the chess world and was a ranking worldchess competitor! It was no surprise to see Greg give Yvonne and me tough games.
Where do I start? Yvonne’s parents were in a car accident on their way to West Georgia which is about a 45 minute accident-free drive. Thankfully we were sitting down to Easter lunch only two hours later – all passengers accounted for along with a car load of delicious food. Everyone meets at Yvonne’s grandparent’s house for most holidays. Arriving late is one of the family traditions began by none other than Yvonne’s family. Yvonne and I have taken the #1 spot on the “will arrive late” list, so we normally arrive late in the 3rd quarter.
I’ll manage to weave a chess story in here. The excitement is just beginning…
I’m new around here – to the area and to the family. I think I’m doing OK. My new aunt does not think of me as a “nephew in-law”, nor does an estranged brother I’ve been lucky to see a couple of times. I told him last week he did a fantastic job power washing his grandparents deck. I thought it had been rebuilt from scratch.
I’m doing great as a matter of fact! Yvonne and I opened our swimming pool on Saturday to kick off the season. I’m turning 40 next month, so we invited everyone we saw on Easter – which was “everyone” to stop by. I didn’t mention the lack of patio furniture, but news travels fast 😉
My new aunt invited Yvonne and me to go camping this weekend with a large group of teenagers. I haven’t done this since I was one myself. These kids are supposed to fend for themselves. They’re not allowed to ask us for any camping supplies over the weekend. We’ll also be riding horses in the Talladega National Forest. I never really learned to ride horses well and have always been a little scared of horses from a young age. My first experience was at age 7 in the mountains at Circle K Ranch outside Durango, Colorado. I did go back the following year – for the trout fishing and tug-of-war on the river that ran through our campground.
Back to Easter weekend. We eventually made our way to my wife’s parents house to enjoy the rest of time we had. Her family lives near us throughout Atlanta and beyond. Traditions have been set down especially around the holidays. Traditions include a “friendly” game of family poker around a large table. If you consider a single lottery ticket I bought for my sister in 1992 when the lottery came to Texas, I could say that I’ve been lucky with games of chance – which chess is not.
Chess for the first time has given me the confidence to participate in the family fun. Aside from a “meeting of the minds” about everyday life, the game has also offered me one-on-one interaction with my father in-law – not an easy task with so much going on.
I wish I could say I let him triumph during our game. Anyone who knows me knows better…
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?