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Chess Classroom Activity: Skill Building Mini-Game with Queens and Bishops

Chess Skill Building Game Quibs

Skill builders and games are used throughout the MATCH Chess Curriculum to practice important chess and cognitive skills in an engaging way. By using a game format, students are more willing to engage in the repeated practice needed to improve important techniques that have a direct crossover into chess tactics. In previous posts we have covered how to use two such games: Pawn Mower and Domination. In this post, we discuss another game that we call Quibs (Queen Intercepts Bishops) which was designed to help students improve their ability to see/defend against threats, especially forks.

What is a fork? In chess, a fork is when an opponent attacks two pieces at once. When this happens, one of the pieces is likely to be captured because it is often impossible to save both pieces.

You can use any of these games to reinforce important lesson concepts, make productive use of small blocks of time, prime your students’ brains at the beginning of class, drill key skills, or provide an alternative activity for some students while you work with others.  The two keys to success are to make sure you really understand how each activity works and to present them as fun activities in their own right.  Don’t hesitate to make it exciting with game show commentary, time limits and general enthusiasm. Continue reading “Chess Classroom Activity: Skill Building Mini-Game with Queens and Bishops”

Academic Connections: Boost Learning and Develop Context for Chess Games through Chess-based Unit Studies

How to create chess unit studies to help make academic connections

In a previous post, we discussed how integrating other subjects into chess lessons can be beneficial. The idea is that the more you integrate other subjects into your chess classes, the more likely what they learn will be applicable to academic performance and increase motivation to succeed in subjects outside of chess. This is particularly the case if students have some choice in what they learn (learn more here and here).

In this post, we share an integrated lesson from the MATCH Chess Curriculum on chess history. We have researched and planned a history unit that includes many famous players for our curriculum, but the concept is simple and can be replicated. Continue reading “Academic Connections: Boost Learning and Develop Context for Chess Games through Chess-based Unit Studies”

MATCH Chess Curriculum Highlights and FAQ

MATCH Chess Curriculum Highlights

What is the MATCH curriculum?

The MATCH curriculum is a comprehensive chess program based on the training methods Grandmaster Maurice Ashley has been using effectively for over 25 years with the students in his classes, camps and private coaching. If you’ve seen Maurice teach, then you know that he keeps his classes moving and entertaining as he instructs with dynamic interaction and fun activities. We’ve taken all of that and crammed it into a curriculum that includes not just the content, but the activities and games that make his teaching so engaging. It is all provided in a digital presentation format so you can easily focus on teaching your students. No more hustling to pull together puzzles or other activities. The lessons are planned out and waiting for you to bring it to life. If you would like, you can also purchase the hard copy student manuals or simply print out the specific resources you want to incorporate. Continue reading “MATCH Chess Curriculum Highlights and FAQ”

De-Escalating Confrontation at Chess Club

How to De-escalate Conflict in Chess Class

By Guest Blogger Coach Jay Stallings

It’s going to happen. A child will be embarrassed about losing to a younger player. A student will accuse another of cheating and you of allowing it. You will offend a student without even realizing it.
What you do next is critical!

First…What NOT to do:

  1. Lose control.
  2. Give the teacher glare
  3. Talk, talk, talk.

If you lose control of yourself, you will lose control of your class, and you will lose the respect of many of your students.

Giving the teacher glare challenges the student and the class and demonstrates that you don’t have the ability to do anything more than that. Continue reading “De-Escalating Confrontation at Chess Club”

Differences in Teaching Chess for Academic Success

Chess instruction for schools

In recent years, interest in chess as a tool for improving the lives of youth has grown. At last year’s London Chess Conference, presenters discussed chess as a therapeutic tool, the value of chess for improving academics, training teachers to teach chess, and more. Increasing numbers of schools are adopting chess as a way to develop cognitive and academic skills based both on the compelling intuitive case and years of accumulated research. Yet, overall research has been mixed (learn more here and here). Factors such as duration, frequency, particular aspects of instruction, instructor chess and teaching skills, coach-student relationship, teacher stereotypes and expectations, parent involvement, student confidence and environment (e.g., classroom space, how well resourced the school is, temperature, time of day) make consistent and comparable experimentation challenging. In addition, the studies conducted rarely implement the same thesis or seek the same outcome (e.g., chess as an intervention for substance abuse versus to improve math skills). Continue reading “Differences in Teaching Chess for Academic Success”

Chess Teacher Shares Her Experience Using the MATCH Curriculum

Krystal Thomas was an undergraduate student with minimal experience with chess when she started teaching chess. She taught for several years as a part of a collaborative research project (learn more about that here and here) that used our curriculum. Continue reading “Chess Teacher Shares Her Experience Using the MATCH Curriculum”

Building a Comprehensive Chess Program with the MATCH Chess Curriculum

Developing a Full Chess Program with the MATCH Curriculum

One of the most important goals we had as we developed the MATCH Chess Curriculum was to help chess coaches, schools and other organizations scale chess programs in a sustainable way. Since strong players with excellent teaching skills can be hard to find/keep due to availability and/or cost, there was a pressing need to create a curriculum that would make teaching chess possible for anyone who is good at working with children.

By using MATCH as a base, limited coaching resources can be directed toward more advanced students while still providing beginning students with an engaging, comprehensive program. Here are some suggestions that could meet your coaching needs:
Continue reading “Building a Comprehensive Chess Program with the MATCH Chess Curriculum”

Classroom Tips for Chess Teachers ~ Managing Varied Skill Levels

Classroom Tips for Chess Coaches Managing Diverse Skills

Teaching a class with children with different skill levels can seem quite daunting. Chess coaches facing this challenge have devised interesting tricks over the years to stimulate inexperienced students while keeping the advanced ones focused. Here are some ideas and activities that you can use to keep your classroom buzzing.

  • Focus on activities that allow those of different levels to learn different things (e.g., the Pawn Game and Domination – In the pawn game, beginning students focus on how the pieces move and capture and advanced students learn about pawn structure. In Domination, both groups improve their board visualization skills).

Continue reading “Classroom Tips for Chess Teachers ~ Managing Varied Skill Levels”

Chess Activities ~ Increase Engagement with a DIY Chess Set

How to make a chess set craft for coaches

There are as many ways to make your own chess set as there are people to imagine them.  Naturally, it’s best to use what you have on hand or can obtain easily obtain. If the ideas below don’t fit your needs, a quick internet search will yield all kinds of creative ways to make chess sets out of a variety of different materials. 

If you aren’t sure why you should take on this project, click here to read about why we think it’s worth the trouble.

Wooden game pieces 

This is our favorite for several reasons. It takes multiple sessions to complete (which is a good thing). It is one of the many ways for kids to express their own personality, which in the long run builds their investment in playing. It’s also relatively inexpensive, while still being reasonably durable.

We recommend that this project be broken down into 15-20 minute session across multiple classes to make the project more manageable and help meet the goals of the project [click here to read about those].
Continue reading “Chess Activities ~ Increase Engagement with a DIY Chess Set”

Chess Business Tips ~ Branding for Chess Coaches

Business and Marketing for chess coaches

I teach chess, so why should I worry about branding?

Imagine that you are a school administrator. You have specific policies on how the students at your school should be taught, disciplined and treated in general. You find a chess coach who fits with your approach. However, as the coach’s business expands, they end up hiring another coach to teach at your school. That coach doesn’t use the same approach. As a consumer, this feels almost like a bait and switch. You ‘bought’ one thing, but got another.  

Imagine that you are a parent.  You’ve hired a chess coach to teach chess to your child.  Perhaps you are happy with the coach, but they occasionally send substitutes that you don’t like. Perhaps the substitutes don’t have the same teaching philosophy, sometimes repeat material, or skip ahead.  

Marketing and Branding for Chess CoachesAlternatively, you sign your child up for a second chess class with the
same provider, but the second class seems to jump in at a different point than where the first one ended. You don’t know if your child is getting a well-planned chess education.  Maybe you are uncertain whether the material has already been covered. When you talk to your child,  it might sound like material is being repeated. Does it need to be? Is the coach is delving deeper into the topic or is it poor planning on the coach’s part? How can you tell?

In each of these scenarios, the likelihood of continued enrollment and referrals is jeopardized.  We have heard each of these complaints about service providers many times. As service providers, we often don’t think of ourselves or our company as having a brand, but whether or not we plan and cultivate a brand, we do have one. Continue reading “Chess Business Tips ~ Branding for Chess Coaches”