We all know it can be a challenge getting students to review material they feel they already know. But in chess, we regularly re-approach the same concepts trying to make them become as automatic as if we had taught driving a bike. So the first step is to explain to students why we review and review and review. We want this information to be instantly available without thinking. We want to keep the analytical thinking part of our brain for tough new problems, and make as much information available from memory as we possibly can. Part 1 of Great Moves, for students who already know a fair amount of chess, is a review of basic concepts, but interestingly we are presenting these concepts from the very first times we see them published. So we see the first publication of the Scholar’s Mate (that we know of) from 1614 or we learn the Fegetello with a quick introduction to Polerio, a name not so instantly recognized by younger players.[read more=”Read more…” less=”Read less…”]
In piloting Great Moves, one of our tests was in a summer camp program run by the National Scholastic Chess Foundation. In each of the four weeks of camp, we featured a different section from the book as “bonus” material that then drove our discussions to the evolution of these concepts to more modern play.
Each camp had several children who were at a more beginner level. These students were introduced to the concepts from Part 1, but with many more practice examples and lots of review of developing pieces and of basic checkmating patterns.
For tournament players coming to camp, they want to focus just on play. The stories are covered rather more quickly than we might like when we want to do more than just develop chess skill. But again, these children have committed to a week-long chess camp (sometimes coming for multiple weeks) because they want to get better at chess in a real hurry. Each week we focused on a different time period and key player from history. So in week 1, for example, we worked through Part 2 exploring the many advances made by Philidor, and then discovering how his ideas relate to playing today. More modern games that tie in to his ideas can be found in this great article by Grandmaster Bryan Smith at chess.com, which begins with the Captain Smith vs. Philidor game (London, 1790) we feature in the book (p.107). Your own searches of the players and concepts should lead to similar resources.[/read]