23 June 2016
One of the harder concepts to grasp in chess is the idea of positioning. The beginner is told that gaining control of the middle of the board early in the game gives a player a material advantage, but it isn’t always immediately obvious. Only experience and practice helps a player begin to think tactically.
For beginners, it is all about the chase and the excitement of taking pieces. As we progress as players, an understanding is gained of the subtle advantages in positioning pieces for the maximum effect. I often find players reluctant to consider the notion of sacrificing a piece to gain an advantage – especially an important piece like a queen – but the breakthrough in understanding comes when a player sees that by making the sacrifice, by playing tactically, they have a chance to win the game: a loss leads to a win.
I have been exploring this concept in Morning Chess (Years 3 to 6). For the youngsters in the Chesslings Clubs, however, the concepts of positioning and sacrifice are still some way off. Nevertheless, they have also had the idea introduced to them. Not all will see the possibilities, but if they do a whole new layer of the game will open up to them. It’s the moment they start on the road to a Gold Carlsen.
In the second half of term, I have been running the usual, popular termly competition in both Chesslings Clubs, with lots of prizes. For Years 3 to 6 it’s all about the Carlsens and, perhaps, the ultimate: the Chess Magnus.
While learning how to play chess, we follow the curriculum outline and Systematic Study of Chess:
1. How to set up the board and how the pieces move.
2. How to capture pieces.
3. Understanding the board correctly (through algebraic notation) ranks, files and diagonals.
4. The points value of each of the pieces.
5. Check and checkmate.
6. Opening principles – control key squares, activate your pieces, get your king to safety.
7. More advanced rules of castling, en passant, and pawn promotion.
8. Developing your pieces together and controlling the centre.
9. Making considered moves, captures and trades.
10. Tactics – forks and pins. Using multiple pieces to attack and defend. Studying some famous opening moves.
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