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”

Learn Chess with Pawn Mower ~ Printable Puzzles (Part 1, Rooks)

Pawn Mower puzzles are a great way to teach beginning students how the pieces move. Young players, in particular, often struggle to remember how all of the pieces move if taught all in one sitting.  The puzzles allow students to focus on one piece at a time until each piece is mastered.

Begin by teaching them how one piece moves. Before moving on to another piece, let them do Pawn Learn Chess with Pawn Mower Rook Moves
Mower puzzles featuring that piece until you are confident they have mastered its movement. The younger the player, the longer you will need to spend on each piece. Don’t worry, they will have fun with the puzzles, so they won’t mind if it takes some time. If they do, it might be a sign that they are ready to move on.

Continue reading “Learn Chess with Pawn Mower ~ Printable Puzzles (Part 1, Rooks)”

Learn Chess with Pawn Mower ~ Printable Puzzles (Part 5, Summary)

If you have been following our series on learning chess with Pawn Mower, you now know how all of the pieces move.  If not, you can catch up by following these links to learn how the RookBishop Knight and Queen which explain more and links to free rook, bishop, and knight puzzles.


Learn to Play Chess with Pawn Mower Puzzles


Once you feel confident you’ve mastered how each piece moves, all you need to learn is a few additional rules to be able to play a full game.

The King: The king can move one square in any direction.  If your king is being threatened (check), you must solve that problem before you make another move.  The king is never captured.

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Learn Chess with Pawn Mower ~ Printable Puzzles (Part 4, Queen)

Learn Chess the Easy Way with Pawn Mower PuzzlesThis is Part 4 of a series on how to use Pawn Mower puzzles to learn/teach how to play chess.  Click here to see Part 1 here for Part 2 , here for part 3 which explain more and links to free rook, bishop, and knight puzzles.

The queen is a fun piece to learn, but the most challenging puzzles of all because the queen has the most options on each move.  Starting with a small number of pieces and gradually moving up as each new level is mastered, will keep students from getting too frustrated.

One of the advantages of this approach is that it can be completely individualized, keeping students in the sweet spot where Continue reading “Learn Chess with Pawn Mower ~ Printable Puzzles (Part 4, Queen)”

Learn Chess with Pawn Mower ~ Printable Puzzles (Part 3, Knight)

Learn Chess the Easy Way with Pawn Mower Knight MovesThis is Part 3 of a series on how to use Pawn Mower puzzles to learn/teach how to play chess.  Click here to see Part 1 and here for Part 2 which explain more and links to some free rook and bishop puzzles.

The knight can be particularly challenging for players of all ages.  Younger players often have trouble remembering how the knight moves.  Other beginners may have trouble visualizing all of the places to which a knight can move. Continue reading “Learn Chess with Pawn Mower ~ Printable Puzzles (Part 3, Knight)”

Learn Chess with Pawn Mower ~ Printable Puzzles (Part 2, Bishops)

Learn Chess the Easy Way with Pawn Mower Bishop MovesThis is Part 2 of a series on how to use Pawn Mower puzzles to learn/teach how to play chess.  Click here to see Part 1 which explains more and links to some free rook puzzles.

This method is particularly good for young children who can get overwhelmed by trying to learn the rules of the game when they are still trying to remember how the pieces move and capture.

Continue reading “Learn Chess with Pawn Mower ~ Printable Puzzles (Part 2, Bishops)”