Chess Pointers for Parents

I wrote this for my nephew, but if you are the parent of a kid between the ages of, say, 7 to 10, and you want your child to get better at chess, then these links and pointers should be useful.

Tactics is Number One

Without any doubt, the quickest way to get better at chess for anyone under say ELO 2000 is to focus on tactics.
Make your child learn mating patters, forks, pins, combinations of all sorts. For a given amount of time investment, this has the highest ROI.

Here are a couple of links for tactics:

Many people swear by 1001 Tactics or the Polgar book. Get any of them, they will all help.

There is no way a child can improve at chess without trying at least 10 tactics problems every day.

Tactics Software

I am not even sure if this is still available, but I can heartily endorse CT-Art 3.0
The exercises are great (especially the low and medium difficulty ones.)

Notation, Notation, Notation

This is one sure way to get better at chess, for kids of all ages. If they can understand the notation, they’ll start to see patterns. Don’t say “Move the rook straight up.” Instead, say, “Play Re5, attacking the 5th rank and threatening the loose Bishop.”

    Kids should start writing down the moves as early as they can.

Visualization (without boards)

This can be really useful for those occasions when you don’t have a board in front of you.

  • Ask, “Is e6 a black square or a white one?”
  • “Which are the square that a knight on c3 attacks?”

Make your kids ask you tough visualization questions. It leads to overall improvement in “seeing” the board.

Play with ONLY Pawns

Here’s a fun variation, without the distraction of all the pieces. Play with 8 pawns each. Whoever queens the first pawn wins. First move can be two squares forward, just as in a regular game.
8 pawns

An even simpler variation involves playing with just three (the abc) pawns. Then add a fourth pawn etc. Play against your kid. The goal is to block the opponent so that they cannot create a passed pawn.
3pawns

Books

Best Lessons of a Chess CoachThere are any number of good books suitable for teaching kids. I have selected these three since I have personally read them and found them to be very good. Note that these are books where you have to sit with your child and walk them through the moves!

Also, you don’t have to buy these books. Check your public library, they are sure to have at least some of the following.

Evaluation Engine

Yes, you should buy chess software — eventually. Fritz, by Chessbase is great. But first, try downloading Crafty for free. It is a good place to start. Enter any position and it tells you who is winning. Also, try playing against it from the point where someone resigned and see if your child can convert it to a win. (Not easy!)

I find playing against chess engines/computers quite demoralizing. Not sure if it is useful for children.

Solitary Chess

Many years ago, Bruce Pandolfini used to publish a column in every issue of Chess Life, called Solitary Chess. You had to guess one move at a time. I find this to be a great way to “participate” in an illustrative game.
Here’s a link to some that you can try with your child.
Link: 50 Solitary Chess Games from Chessgames.com

Chess Sites
Chessbase.com: Go here for the latest news in the chess world. Written so that it is accessible to everyone.

Freechess.org
Far better than playing against computers. You can find partners who have the same strength as your child’s. If you are serious about chess and don’t mind the price, then ICC (Internet Chess Club) is a better option.

Things Not to Do
Don’t focus too much on Opening Theory
Don’t focus on understanding GM games well above the child’s level

Hope this helps,
Ram

One Response to Chess Pointers for Parents

  1. manho says:

    Tq for sharing these information.

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