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.

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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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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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“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!

The Fun Never Stops

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.

Throughout the forest are rivers and streams for canoeing, hiking trails (including a major section of the Batona Trail), miles of unpaved roads for mountain biking, horseback riding plus numerous lakes, ponds and fields ideal for wildlife observation. Tent camping in family, primative and wilderneness.
Throughout the forest are rivers and streams for canoeing, hiking trails (including a major section of the Batona Trail), miles of unpaved roads for mountain biking, horseback riding plus numerous lakes, ponds and fields ideal for wildlife observation. Tent camping in family, primative and wilderneness.

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Easter Twist

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.

Safe & sound at our grandparent’s house in West Georgia.

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…

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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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