At Championship Chess we focus on children and how they learn.
Teaching chess is an art, not a science, so there’s not an ironclad rule that works for everyone for every lesson. But, we do outline a set of methods and skills that tie directly to state and national standards and that can be adapted to fit the learner—not by age but by ability to pick up and understand more abstract thought.
We build students’ chess skills and knowledge one step at a time in order to form a concrete foundation for a game that is based on abstract thought and problem solving. In any math curriculum, counting and adding whole numbers comes long before multiplying fractions. We believe that a chess curriculum must follow the same pattern. We don’t teach chess the “old” way: “Here’s how you set up the board; this is how the pieces move and capture; now, let’s play.“
Take a look at our incremental approach:
· Pawn vs Pawn and Pawn vs Piece Games: These simple games not only introduce how the Pawns and Pieces move and capture, but also how they interact on the board and their major strengths and weaknesses. Keeping the King off the board in these beginning games takes away some of the complexity of the game and allows learners to focus on building their understanding of each piece. These simple games introduce important chess skills that are often overlooked by the rush to get to checkmate. And, students are having fun and being successful playing games with real chess rules and real strategies that they will later apply to full chess games.
· Check, Checkmate and Stalemate: After introducing and playing strategic games with the first five chess pieces—Pawns, Queen, Rooks, Bishops and Knights, it’s time to introduce the King and the object of the game. Through puzzles and hands-on activities, learners gain a basic understanding of what it takes to identify, set or prevent check, checkmate and stalemate.
· The Opening: At Championship Chess, we believe the most important part of the game is the Opening. Rather than just making good developing moves with no long-range plan, we provide a structure for the opening moves. We help students learn the basis of long-term strategies and pattern recognition to guide abstract reasoning. We have chosen basic, simple-to-understand aggressive openings and provide the rationale for developing pieces. This makes each move and opening pattern easier to remember and more easily applied and adapted to other board positions.
· The Endgame: If you’ve ever watched beginners play chess then you’ve seen them chase their Kings around the board at the end of the game, seldom achieving checkmate. Our coaches call this “pushing plastic” without a plan. It’s important to learn basic endgames at the same time students are learning openings so that they can play meaningful games through to the end.
· Tactics: For beginning players who are studying openings and endgames, we introduce tactics within the context of the game not as puzzles to solve. For example, if within an opening, a move sets a Queen Fork or Pins a piece to the King, then we name and discuss this tactic. More advanced tactics are more easily understood within the structure of game play. As students progress, they are then ready to study tactics through puzzles.
Working with our complete curriculum, every child can learn to play chess and feel confident as their skills grow.