Guest Post ~ Bobby Fischer & Chess Resources for Boy Scouts and Others

Dr. Alexey Root Blog Post Boy Scouts and Strategy books

In this post, Dr. Alexey Root, WIM provides a little chess history and introduces two chess books that she recommends as resources for:

  1. Beginning to intermediate level chess players ages 11-18+.
  2. Boy Scouts interested in earning the Chess merit badge.
  3. Chess coaches who work with either of these groups of students. In particular, the Fischer columns have “chess puzzles” which would be good for homework or for group problem solving. Prepare With Chess Strategy provides exercises that teach chess strategies. Resources for teaching chess strategies are less common than tactics resources, such as “find the tactic” books and Internet trainers.


In the United States, if you say about someone “he’s a real boy scout” you mean that he is a role model. The type of person you would pick to organize donations after a disaster or to instill pride in America. But hearing “he’s a real boy scout” would not make you think of World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer in his later years. In the decade before Continue reading “Guest Post ~ Bobby Fischer & Chess Resources for Boy Scouts and Others”

Top 10 MATCH Chess Curriculum Blog Posts of 2016

MATCH Chess Curriculum Top 2016 Posts

  1. Domination: Our top post in 2016 shares a skill building game that teaches students to see the board at a glance. This post includes video instruction by GM Maurice Ashley and ideas for making the game more challenging (hint: play the “mean way” and use a clock). If you like Domination, you might also like Quibs, a skill building game using queens and bishops.
  2. Managing Varied Skill Levels in the Chess Classroom: Our second most popular post highlights creative ideas for making a class engaging when you have students with varied skill levels in the same class. If this is an issue for some of your classes, you might also find our post on using learning stations helpful.
  3. Continue reading “Top 10 MATCH Chess Curriculum Blog Posts of 2016”

Chess Puzzle ~ Mate-in-Two

Keep your students thinking with this mate-in-two puzzle from the MATCH Student Workbook.  Checkmate Puzzle from the MATCH Curriculum

If your students are stumped, you can offer this hint: Remove whatever is stopping your queen from doing what it wants to do!
Continue reading “Chess Puzzle ~ Mate-in-Two”

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”

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”

7 Benefits of Student-Made Chess Sets

Benefits of student-made chess set craft activity

When new coaches initially see the make-your-own chess set activity in our chess curriculum, their reactions are quite varied. Of course, many, particularly primary school teachers, immediately see the benefits of this craft activity.  Understandably, to some it seems like more trouble than it’s worth. It does require planning, some supplies that may not be on hand, and some mess. Others see it as a distraction from the goal of learning about chess. However, we have been including this activity in our programs for over seven years and it never disappoints, particularly for students in primary grades.  Here’s why we think it is worth the time, trouble and mess – all of which can be minimized (more on that in our upcoming how-to article): Continue reading “7 Benefits of Student-Made Chess Sets”

Easy Ways Use Algebraic Notation to Boost Learning in the Classroom

Tips for using and learning from chess notation.

Teach your students how to take short algebraic notation. You can use the image below as a reference. Once your students are familiar with the basics, it’s time to practice.

One great way to reinforce what they have learned is by reviewing famous games.  You can start with one of the most famous chess games of all time, The Opera Game (scroll down for the moves), but more are easy to find via a quick internet search. You can even find games that are analyzed/annotated by strong chess players to help you guide discussion as you play through games. Play through the chosen game on a demonstration board or projector while your students notate the game.  This allows them to practice notation without having to simultaneously think about their game.  It also makes it easy for you, their classmates or volunteers to check their work.  As a nice side effect, they will be exposed to the kinds of moves made by strong players.
Continue reading “Easy Ways Use Algebraic Notation to Boost Learning in the Classroom”

How a Simple but Powerful Chess Tool Can Teach Independent Learning, Game Improvement & More

What kids can learn from writing down their games

Chess notation is like a music score for chess. When a game is recorded using chess notation it is forever saved for review by the player, friends, coaches or future generations. Thanks to notation, we can replay games from as far back as two or three hundred years ago. We can relive the moment, imagining how the great players of the past thought and felt as they played the classics that would stand the test of time. We can experience the highs and lows of a game and vicariously feel the impact of each thrilling victory, crushing defeat or fighting draw.  The game score is like instant replay in sports, allowing the student to dissect the game down to its smallest detail. This can be very exciting, but, most importantly, it is also a phenomenal learning tool. Continue reading “How a Simple but Powerful Chess Tool Can Teach Independent Learning, Game Improvement & More”