Chess Coach Interview ~ Robin Ramson, DC Chess Girls

Chess Coach Business Interview

This spring, we had the chance to catch up with Robin Ramson, the Founder of DC Chess Girls: a Washington, D.C. based chess non-profit dedicated to encouraging more girls to play chess. When we spoke, she had just returned from a national tournament where her daughter got to compete with children from all over the country.

I know you have lots of stories about chess making a difference. Can you share one story with our readers?

The first one that comes to mind is that of a girl in our program who also participates in a school-based program. There weren’t many girls in the school-based program and the boys were much better than her when she started. Her mom said her daughter almost gave up many times, but ultimately had the courage to keep going due to her continued involvement with with DC Chess Girls. The other girls in the club were really supportive and we do a lot as a club to encourage tournament play. I think providing this kind of encouragement is essential. It takes so long time to get good at chess that recognition for effort and achievement of certain milestones can make a huge difference. I think girls respond well to people noticing their effort (not that boys don’t), so we make sure that we do just that. The other girls in our program are competitive, but they don’t participate in school programs. Even though the other kids on the school team had much higher ratings, it was this girl who ended up getting awards. In addition to the support, we’ve been lucky to have great coaching. I say ‘lucky’ because we are an all-volunteer organization and I hire only experts or above. Our coaches analyze games and provide lectures to prompt thinking about how the girls can take their games to next level. In addition to the chess improvement, the mom said her daughter has become more focused, less intimidated about taking tests, and shows more persistence when tackling difficult subjects. Continue reading “Chess Coach Interview ~ Robin Ramson, DC Chess Girls”

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”

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”

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”

Chess Coach Resources ~ Free Printable Chess Posters for Beginners

We are pleased to provide four free chess posters for chess teachers and coaches who work with beginners. They are free to print as long as you do not alter them.  They are 18 x 24 inches. Simply download and save the file.  From there, you may upload it to a printing service. Continue reading “Chess Coach Resources ~ Free Printable Chess Posters for Beginners”

Chess and Math Series ~ Using Chess to Practice Basic Counting and Graph Theory

MATCH Chess Curriculum Chess Math Series

Teachers often ask how they can use chess in their classrooms to address subject matter objectives in an engaging manner.  Likewise, schools and parents report similar goals for involving their kids in a chess program. Specifically, they hope that playing chess will improve academic performance and develop important cognitive skills. The challenge then, is how to do it in a way that is fun for kids and effective.

Activities that integrate subject matter content into chess lessons are a great way to address these goals. The hands-on, competitive nature of the game increases engagement by providing immediate relevance and feedback. At the same time, the subject integration increases the assimilation of academic learning by the kids. Continue reading “Chess and Math Series ~ Using Chess to Practice Basic Counting and Graph Theory”

Domination ~ A Fun Chess Skill Builder for Helping Students See the Chessboard at a Glance

In this video from our curriculum, GM Ashley instructs students how to play this fun mini-game.

Introduction: At MATCH, we believe that complex skills are more easily learned by breaking them down and studying the component skills in depth. However, traditional drills can be, well, a little boring. So we use mini-games like Domination to make them fun and engaging so students actually want to play them.  All the while, we know they are focusing on developing specific skills without having to simultaneously process the complexities of a full game.

Domination is actually a game about queens, not pawns. The pawns act like queens because they control all the ranks, files and diagonals on which they stand. We only use pawns to play because chess sets do not come with eight queens. Continue reading “Domination ~ A Fun Chess Skill Builder for Helping Students See the Chessboard at a Glance”