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Classic Games (Games)

Chess for Kids? 149

Posted by Cliff
from the a-learning-experience dept.
cyberbian asks: "My six year old daughter has recently expressed an interest in chess. We have been playing a few games, but I fear that I'm not the best teacher for such a venerable game. Is there any software that the Slashdot community would recommend for learning the mechanics and structures of good chess?"
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Chess for Kids?

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  • Kids' chess set (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Wespionage (751377) * on Monday January 23, 2006 @04:36PM (#14543257)

    I can't say much about software for kids -- my daughter is five and just starting to show an interest, but hasn't started to try to play yet. But I can remember, when I was a kid, I had an instructional chess set that had fairly simple plastic pieces with all the moves for each piece embossed on them.

    Something like this [wholesalechess.com] (links directly to an image).

    I can remember, even at a young age, my younger brother and I playing together because we could at least shuffle the pieces around without worry about remembering all the rules. Certainly, this doesn't say much for teaching strategy, but I think it could still be a nice set for just keeping the game fun for kids, especially if your daughter might want to play with her friends who might not be as interested by the game.

    • No, I think that's a nice way to cheat your kids out of actually learning something. It's more fun when you play it right. Otherwise you might as well just be playing with blocks. Teaching a 6 year old all the rules is pretty trivial. You both just need some patience.
      • Re:Kids' chess set (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Wespionage (751377) * on Monday January 23, 2006 @05:04PM (#14543573)

        I would agree with you, if you're the kind of parent who takes the approach that if the child has any tools or toys that can enable some independence then you shouldn't participate with them at all. I was assuming, from the submitter's question, that he/she already had some interest in playing chess with his/her daughter and teaching her the rules.

        I think there is an added benefit (at least there was for me) to having a chess set that lets a child include friends who might not have the benefit of someone having taught them the game, or even of getting to play with a younger sibling. For me, it helped it feel more like a game and less like a lesson.

        I see little difference here between chess and cards for a six year old. Both are fun and rule/strategy based. You could take the time to immerse your kid in the rules every time they want pull out a deck of cards, but you could also give them a pack of cards to just sit there and shuffle through, or play war with once in a while, without having to worry about strategy and more complex rules.

        But also, if you're concerned that having your child just play with the board and pieces, or play with people beneath his/her skill level, will be detrimental for his/her later chess tournaments, then you have a different agenda altogether and it's probably better to spend some money on a tutor.

        Personally, I was happy to think that the game was both challenging and kinda fun at that age. But then again, I'm sure there were enough times where I had a chess piece sticking out of my mouth or was busy making the neighing and fighting sounds for the knights.

    • Re:Kids' chess set (Score:5, Insightful)

      by damiam (409504) on Monday January 23, 2006 @04:52PM (#14543442)
      My parents got me one of those and I hated it. It took maybe a week for me to learn how each piece moved (and the set wasn't very helpful; the instructions on the pieces were hard to decipher). After I learned the basics, the extra instructions were mostly useless to me, and I thought the pieces looked clunky, ugly and juvenile. I'd have been much happier with a nice, professional-looking, standard chess set [wholesalechess.com].

      Each to his own, I guess.

      • Re:Kids' chess set (Score:3, Informative)

        by EngrBohn (5364)
        My son took up chess in November. To help him remember the moves I drew the possible moves for each piece on a sheet from engineering pad. We saw a set like that in a nearby store shortly before he got interested but couldn't find it again before he grew out of the need for that a couple of weeks later. We since picked up a couple of "Chess Teacher" sets for $5 each on after-Christmas discount and donated them to his school. The sets we found had hollow plastic pieces that squeeze-fit into the bases. I
    • Re:Kids' chess set (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I had an instructional chess set that had fairly simple plastic pieces with all the moves for each piece embossed on them.

      The common Staunton Chess pieces already reflect the moves of the pieces (to a certain extent). It might help beginners to point out the shapes reflect the moves with most sets:
      The Bishop moves diagonally and the top of the piece is slanted.
      The Rook moves in straight lines and the top is flat (flat enough to turn upside down and it still stands up).
      The Knight has a bent horses head and m

  • chessmaster (Score:4, Informative)

    by flogic42 (948616) on Monday January 23, 2006 @04:38PM (#14543279) Homepage
    The chessmaster [amazon.com] series has good tutorials at any level.
    • Re:chessmaster (Score:4, Informative)

      by Jazzer_Techie (800432) on Monday January 23, 2006 @05:03PM (#14543554)
      When I was in elementary school, our chess club used Chessmates [amazon.com] to help younger players learn. It's a Win 9x piece of software, but it is great. It has 10 levels of play, easy being really easy and hard actually being pretty tough. More importantly, it has great tutorials illustrating various tactics. There are animated characters who guide you through the various skills, complete with puzzles, and when you master something it generates a nice printable certificate. (Example: to illustrate a fork, a handsome prince has to choose between saving a damsel in distress and a treasure chest from a dragon. May sound a bit silly, but it's really effective. And throughout the program Wigby the Wizard can give hints and help.) It's a great program for younger kids.
    • by rmcd (53236) * on Monday January 23, 2006 @06:10PM (#14544111)
      Chessmaster is a terrific piece of software, with one very important caveat. It absolutely has to be installed and run with administrative privileges. If you don't want your kids running with administrative privileges, forget Chessmaster. (There is supposed to be a workaround involving symbolic links from the kid's home directory to the administrator's, but I never got it to work.) Talk about brain-damaged software design!

      I own Chessmaster 9000. I was told by Ubi tech support that the same issue exists with Chessmaster 10.
  • by Cyphertube (62291) on Monday January 23, 2006 @04:39PM (#14543294) Homepage Journal
    I don't know where you live, but I'm sure that your six year old is not interested in sitting in front of a programme as much as sitting with people. You may not be the greatest chess player ever, but I'm sure you're more social than the machine.

    If your child starts to beat you regularly, then it's time to start finding new opponents. There are some places where people do actually meet and play chess. Take a look around. See if anyone you know plays as well.

    Starting to look for software right away is similar to using the television as a babysitter. Yes, the child will learn something, but will also not learn plenty of other things.
    • "I'm sure you're more social than the machine."

      This is Slashdot. I wouldn't be so quick to make that assumption.
    • And with Dad (Score:4, Insightful)

      by IAAP (937607) on Monday January 23, 2006 @04:44PM (#14543361)
      You may not be the greatest chess player ever, but I'm sure you're more social than the machine.

      Plus, she's spending time with Mom or Dad. That's more important than anything. She'll progress in her own time.

    • The parent has a point, however if YOU want to learn how to play chess so you can teach your daughter better you can try ChessMaster [ubi.com]. Great software for both the beginners and the experts, many tutorials, quiz, challenges, games with audio commentary (by Chess Master Josh Waitzkin [wikipedia.org]).

      Maybe not the best software for a child but definitely a good one for a grown up. And like the parent said, for now you're still the best teacher there is for your daughter =)

    • by VaderPi (680682) on Monday January 23, 2006 @05:10PM (#14543614) Homepage
      My father and I used to play often when I was little. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I was probably about 8. My father taught me how to play and payed enough attention to make sure that I did not cheat. He also tried to point out why some of my moves were not wise.

      Even with the advice that he gave me, I am not sure that he ever went all that easy on me. Beating my father was my ultimate goal whenever we played. He would try to explain to me why I lost each time, turning the defeat into a lesson. I do not remember winning until I was at least 14. I lost the game right after that, however. :)

      Now, my father is no master chess player, and for that matter, neither am I. But I think that I learned more from having him teach me than I think I would have learned from a computer. I also think that he taught me how to gracefully handle defeat as well.

      The only thing that my console games taught me about defeat, was that I felt a lot better when the controller hit the wall. Damn you Pitfall. You drove me to break more Atari controllers. :)

      Looking back, I am really fond of the time that I spent playing chess with my father. I bet that your daughter will as well.
    • Many school systems will have a chess program in them. Also check with the local library. There is often a local chess scene with weekly club meetings and such that most people are not aware of until they look for it.
    • Schools with a chess program/club often have resources, such as national newsletters and information on local events that may be useful. I don't recall playing at the age of 6, so I'm not sure what the best software resources are for that age. I do agree, however, that interaction with people (such as parents) will probably bring greater rewards than just the intellectual development a program can bring.
    • I agree with the parent but would like to add that the best way to learn chess is to play against those with a similar level of skill. That way, no one is bored with an easy win or demoralized by inevitable defeat, and everyone gets better at roughly the same rate.
    • As the mother of said "six-year-old daughter" who truly has initiated an interest in chess (all on her own), I feel the need to weigh in on this discussion. First, we are aware that people are better teachers. I am a qualified teacher and we know the importance of socially mediated interactions. It is reassuring to know that if a cyborg-parent [slashdot.org] lacking in the ability to teach through modeling and zone of proximal development [sdsu.edu], that Slashdot readers would be ready to stay them on the humane track. However, I d
  • ObGoPost (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, 2006 @04:39PM (#14543295)
    Kids often find Go easier to learn, as it has fewer rules and you can play a simplified version of the game (on a smaller board, or first to capture 5, etc) that is still a meaningful introduction to the strategy.
    • Go is cool, except the baroqueness comes out in (1) the scoring (2) all the rule subvariants about time, scoring, ko/superko, etc.

      It's probably easier for a kid to estimate winning/losing in a game of chess. Go's simplicity means you have to do more mental heavy lifting to analyse a position. In chess, discrete units are discrete pieces, but in Go the units are several pieces and may span gaps or interlock black and white stones.
      • Re:Except.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by Abcd1234 (188840)
        Go is cool, except the baroqueness comes out in (1) the scoring (2) all the rule subvariants about time, scoring, ko/superko, etc.

        I humbly disagree. :) No child needs to know the intricacies of ever Go ruleset. Just pick one scoring system (Japanese is probably simplest), regular ko (superko is interesting, but certainly not worth introducing early on), and don't even both teaching byoyomi. At this point, Go has a mere handful of rules, and no wonky special cases (aside from Ko), as opposed to Chess with
    • Go:Emacs::Vi:Chess

      Sorry. Didn't mean to blurt that out, it was in my kill ring.

  • You (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pizzaman100 (588500) on Monday January 23, 2006 @04:40PM (#14543310) Journal
    I would say that unless your kid is some kind of chess prodigy, the best teacher is you. A little quality time between parent and child is of more value than a program or even a tutor, and your kid will appreciate it more.
  • Easy Question... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gasmonso (929871) on Monday January 23, 2006 @04:41PM (#14543318) Homepage

    The best chess game of course is Battle Chess http://www.dosgamesonline.com/index/game/Battle%20 Chess/30/ [dosgamesonline.com]

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
    • Re:Easy Question... (Score:3, Informative)

      by rsd (194962)
      Yep. I know a lot people started playing and learning chess with Battle Chess.
      They just wanted to see the peaces ripping each other appart.

      Even without knowing how to play they learned by try.

      Later it came Battle Chess 3000 and then Star Wars Battle Chess or something like this.

      Today there is Chessmaster 10 which has a kid module that teachs a kid how to play with full 3D animations.

      And there is Majestic Chess [sierra.com]. That was created by the original author of Chessmaster and has a really interesting adventure gam
  • I think the best way to learn at first is by hands-on practice. Trial and error. You could try to teach the theory of the mechanics up front, but I think you might be doing her a disservice by eliminating the learning process. There's much about games that feed intuition and if you remove the need to develop the intuition it seems to me that you'd be removing part of what makes the game fun to begin with. But, then again, I have no children and I'm certainly not an expert.. :-) I'd say just play the ga
  • Fritz and Chesster is what I've used with my daughter-- it's an excellent program.

    http://www.chessbase.com/shop/product.asp?pid=165& user=&coin= [chessbase.com]

    I haven't gotten around to picking up Volume 2, though...

    http://www.chessbase.com/shop/product.asp?pid=230& user=&coin= [chessbase.com]
    • by Fhqwhgadss (905393) on Monday January 23, 2006 @05:40PM (#14543853)
      I have found software from Chessbase (Fritz, etc) to be pretty demeaning to women. In response to moving the queen for the first time in Fritz 7, for example, the opponent replied (audibly): "A woman's place is in the kitchen." I have read reviews (can't find them now, though) that Fritz and Chesster have similar comments, especially in the multimedia sequences and that these cannot be skipped. So unless you want your daughter being repeatedly told how inferior they are, or your son exposed to such sexist views, I would stay away from F & C. If you're just looking for a means to keep your kid quiet for long periods of time without bothering you, I've heard that F & C is great.

      As far as the instruction goes, you would serve your kids far better by teaching them yourself, over the board. It's a lot more fun for you too. As long as you can teach the very basics of piece movement, you should be good enough. If you feel the need to suppliment with software after teaching the basics, there is great tactics software for all skill levels; Chess Tactics for Beginners and CT-Art from ChessAssistant come to mind. Teaching strategy with software to a young child, I expect would be a lost cause, though I haven't tried that myself. You're better off learning that yourself or using a professional chess instructor. Jeremy Silman has some good books if you're up to the task of learning yourself. Otherwise call (or visit!) your local chess club and ask for referrals for a good instructor. They may have some sotware to recommend, but will add expert instruction and recommend how to use the software effectively.

      • I have found software from Chessbase (Fritz, etc) to be pretty demeaning to women. In response to moving the queen for the first time in Fritz 7, for example, the opponent replied (audibly): "A woman's place is in the kitchen." I have read reviews (can't find them now, though) that Fritz and Chesster have similar comments, especially in the multimedia sequences and that these cannot be skipped. So unless you want your daughter being repeatedly told how inferior they are, or your son exposed to such sexist

        • by Fhqwhgadss (905393)
          Here's a link to one review [amazon.com] of Fritz and Chesster that has a vague mention of the jokes. Another review [aol.com] specifically mentions fat jokes.

          I haven't personally used F & C, but I have heard the offensive banter of Fritz 7 first-hand. It's really in poor taste. As far as why no-one cares, that's easy. The world of chess is dominated by men, almost to the point of exclusion. Girls are not encouraged to play serious chess. At my local chess club I've seen precisely one female player out of dozens of pl

      • Put on your irony detector; the queen is the most powerful piece by far.
  • As a child I learned a game called Smess (The Ninny's Chess) first. Check out ChessVariants [chessvariants.com] for information. It's a great introductory game that gets you started thinking along chess lines. The transition from Smess to Chess is relatively simple to make, even for a child.

    Give it a try!

    • excellent strategy! I'm for oblique approaches any day... I think she's just as much interested in the 'Court' of the game and the all the kings men approach looks sound as well! thanks for the info :D cyberbian - I Fink therefore I can.
    • My daughter went to an after-school program when she was about 7, and they started them off with something they called football chess. I think it only had pawns, and IIRC they moved the normal way except that there was no pawn promotion. (Not sure about en passant.) I think the idea was to get them used to the really basic ideas, and give them something that had some strategy to it, without overwhelming them with all the rules for how the pieces move. To give an idea of what it was like, if the kids were go
  • I remember having an old game called Maurice Ashley Teaches Chess. It walks you through the basics all the way to intermediate to advanced strategy.

    If you can find a copy somewhere cheap (or google it), I'd reccommend it.
  • by nocomment (239368) on Monday January 23, 2006 @04:57PM (#14543490) Homepage Journal
    I have a sneaky feeling that the game may only be part of it. The rest being, doing something with her daddy.
  • The one book I'd heartily recommend is Winning Chess [amazon.com].
    She could probably start reading it around 8-10 and be ok with it; until then I think it's best to just let her play for fun and don't beat her up too badly.

    I started playing around 6 as well, and the one thing that kept me going was playing with my father; I was given many computer programs/games to use but they weren't what made me want to continue. Playing with my dad was the draw.
    Just some food for thought.

  • by RingDev (879105) on Monday January 23, 2006 @04:59PM (#14543522) Homepage Journal
    I would hazard a guess that what you daughter is actually showing an interest in is spending time with you. She would probrably be just as interested in working on your car, pulling cable, wood working, etc... if you were doing it with her. And besides, Quality time > chess skillz.

    -Rick

  • What you need is a good book on chess and your local chess club. Yes, they do tend to have members in the single-digit age range (it sucks being knocked out of a tournament by an 8 year old!)
  • join a chess club? (Score:2, Informative)

    by wardk (3037)
    they are all over. 5 year old chess is huge. most schools have one, or a neighbor school will adopt kids from other schools.

    most chess software quite honestly sucks, especially getting it setup to challenge a 5 year old without discouraging them by getting slaughtered over and over.
  • by Gulthek (12570)
    Dear Slashdot:

    Raising a child is difficult and annoying. They never seem to stop asking questions! Isn't there some computer program (or, if necessary, television show) that will do it for me?
    • Amateur. (Score:4, Funny)

      by Orrin Bloquy (898571) on Monday January 23, 2006 @05:17PM (#14543684) Journal
      1. Install Monsters Inc. Jr. Scream Team Training as administrator.
      2. Log 5 year old daughter in as herself (no admin privs).
      3. Run program.
      4. Get "no disc" error.
      5. Run program as admin user.
      6. Get "no disc" error.
      7. Log in administrator.
      8. Game runs.
      9. Uninstall game.
      10. Log in as daughter.
      11. Run installer as admin user.
      12. Run program.
      13. Get "no disc" error.
      14. Run program as admin user.
      15. Get "no disc" error.
      16. Tell daughter she's adopted.
  • hello :-) (Score:2, Interesting)

    hi i am a 16 year old kid who learnt to play at the age of 8 .... i learnt by my dad teaching me the basic rules then playing against real people (useing an internet chess program) i found that i learnt more off the net than i did off a computerised program. so after you have taught your kid the basic rules you might want to set up something like yahoo or something :-)
    • She is a six year old girl. Thats a bit young to use a service like Yahoo's main games site. If you really want to let a six year old play on the net, please save us all an Amber alert and make sure she is only on a site dedicated for kids.
  • by JamesTKirk (876319) on Monday January 23, 2006 @05:15PM (#14543670)
    I'm an intermediate chess player, and I'm currently teaching my 9 year old son to play.

    You should teach your daughter yourself, rather than look for chess software. She'll be able to ask you questions as you go, and it'll be quality time that you can share with her.

    I don't know what your level of chess knowlege is, but you could read some books to pick up the basics of tactics and strategy so that you're prepared to teach her. If you begin by teaching her the mechanics (how the pieces move and capture), by the time she's ready to learn basic tactics (pins, forks) and strategy (control the center), you should know enough about these topics that you'll be able to teach her.

    I would recommend two classic books for any beginner to read to pick up the basics:

    Chess Fundamentals http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1857440730 [amazon.com]
    Lasker's Manual of Chess http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486206408 [amazon.com]

    These are both considered essential reading for anyone interested in grasping the basic concepts of chess. If read these these (or any other) books on chess strategy, you'll be prepared to teach your daughter for at least a couple of years, and you'll improve your chess as well. If you get to the point where you are unable (or unwilling) to continue studying, and your daughter starts beating you regularly, then she will probably be ready to start reading on her own, or you might want to consider a chess coach at that point.
  • This past summer, my daughter (then 6) decided she wanted to teach herself chess. So we found this site http://www.chesskids.com/kidzone/index.shtml [chesskids.com]. Within a couple of weeks, she had learned the basic moves, and rules.

    Now, she's in the Chess Club at her school, and while she is definitely not the best player out there, she really enjoys the game.
  • Teach her yourself (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Laxitive (10360) on Monday January 23, 2006 @05:26PM (#14543745) Journal
    I'd echo the sentiments of others. Teach her yourself. It's far more important that she be learning from someone she is comfortable with than from some random chess teacher guy, or a soulless program.

    One thing I've found works well when playing chess (or for that matter, go) with kids is this: interact with them during the game. I don't refrain from talking with them about the game AS it's progressing. Most of the time their strategy is going to be really naive and short-term.. but that's ok. I grin and say things like "oh, you're not getting away with that!" and respond to their moves. If they're about to make a particularly obvious error, I ask if they're sure they want to make the move (and if they want me to, I'll explain why they shouldn't). Also, if I'm setting up some particular attack, I give hints along the way about what they should be worrying about. That way, I don't have to dumb down MY game, but I don't easily defeat them either (which is no fun at all). As time passes, they'll require less and less of your helping hand when making their moves.

    If you're successful in achieving that comfortable, interactive environment, you'll find that your daughter really responds to you. It becomes less of a combative game and more of a shared adventure, a little mini-storybook, and that's when kids show the most interest and learn the best. The important thing is to achieve a nice balance between completely disconnecting yourself from interacting with her (professional chess player attitude) and boring her by making it into a lesson instead of a game. Make jokes, have fun, and look at the experience as a way to get some insight into the way your kid thinks. Give her hints and advice when she needs it, leave her alone when she's trying to figure something out herself. Remember, you're playing chess WITH her, not AGAINST her.

    If she picks up and runs with it, then she'll figure out how to proceed after she goes past your limits. If she doesn't, then that's fine too, but you got to spend some good quality time with your kid and that's worth a lot all by itself.

    -Laxitive
    • by JohnFluxx (413620)
      The "play chess with her, not against her" strangely doesn't have any suitable word for that style of gaming, however in go it's "shidougo" which translates to basically teaching go.

      A random google search found: http://senseis.xmp.net/?TeachingGame [xmp.net]

      • by Laxitive (10360)

        That's really interesting, since I actually learned that style of play when I was learning go. It's a very enjoyable approach to the game, where you're ostensibly opponents, but fundamentally it's more about exploring the game space than beating the other guy.

        Anyway, I brought that approach back to chess, and I find it works really well when you're playing with kids: really provides a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

        -Laxitive
  • by GmAz (916505)
    Not sure if you kid is a Harry Potter fan, but relating a great game like chess to Harry Potter might get her interested. Try to get her a game like Harry Potter's Wizrd Chess. Its chess, but has a Harry Potter theme and has the pieces like in the movie. I always liked the chessmaster games for the computer. You can play at any level and it teachers you how to play.
  • Almost any book on chess will do right out of the gate. Until she can name the pieces, what their basic moves are, and how they capture, you don't need to bother with anything else. After that, just some basic strategy: control of the center of the board at first, so either the king's pawn or the queen's pawn should always be her first move for now. Then just getting the hang of the fact that each piece moves differently, and learning the perspective that it's not where the piece sits but to where the pi
  • ChessMaster is still an excellent piece of software for both learning and playing. It's available for many consoles and the PC (in Windows).

    Aside from that, you can hire a mentor for relatively cheap. You would only need to pay for 3-4 hours per month to make steady progress (depending on how involved you'd like her to become).

    Get her a membership on ICC (www.chessclub.com) and let her play regularly. It's very important to record and analyze your games. Once you've learned the fundamentals of chess tactics
  • I am not the original poster. But I'd like to ask the question a little differently. Can anyone recommend cheap (or free) software where I can learn chess a little faster than my child so I can keep playing chess against my preschool daughter without feeling like Homer Simpson?
    • Chessmaster 9000 or 10th edition by Ubisoft should be available for less than $20 at your local computer game store (I saw Chessmaster 10th for $20 Cdn at Staples).

      I went from just knowing the rules on how to move the pieces, to being able to give my adult friends a decent game.

      Also look at: http://www.danheisman.com/ [danheisman.com]
  • Just like many others have said, teach her yourself.

    If you're uncertain of your own abilities (which it sounds like you are), go and get Chessmaster. You use it and then teach her what you've learned. Not only will it help you to play better, but you'll be teaching her, and spending quality time with her.
  • In my opinion you should try to improve your game and knowledge of the game and then teach/instruct your daughter the way you think is proper. I don't recommend pushing kids into computers to perform tasks they could perform with other kids or with their parents. I'm sure she will be much happier spending her chess time with her father than with a chess computer software.

    That said, I also recommend you to try Go [gobase.org] with your daughter. I've read it is used in elementary schools in Japan, China and Korea to stim
  • by Chagatai (524580) on Monday January 23, 2006 @05:48PM (#14543917) Homepage
    My father and a good neighbor began to teach me chess when I was about four years old. It was one of the best things they could have done for me. My brothers followed suit and soon we all played together. I am doing the same thing now with my three year-old daughter. I show her how the pieces move, their names, and I praise her even when her pawn moves halfway across the board, two squares over.

    As I got older, there was a chess club in junior high that had a tournament. I remember being late the first day and beating my opponent before just minutes after sitting down. By the end of the weeks of play, I won and got a nice handmade walnut board with my name on it that I still use for games.

    When I became a junior in high school, there was another tournament in the neighboring town. I decided to go and try winning again. But, a big surprise awaited me. Most of the kids in the tournament were not from our local towns, but had travelled from miles away in the city to play. They were all part of a club, with their nice blue hats and specially made t-shirts that made them look more like Special Olympians than chess players.

    Their coach was this man in his forties who looked like he hadn't showered in weeks, instead living, eating, and breathing chess. He was completely obsessed with the velvet ropes used to cordon off the players and the amount of talking. Keep in mind that he was yelling at eight year-olds about this, which shows low class on his part.

    I sat down from this fat, smug kid who lay there like a blob with his arms crossed and his hat pulled low. As we played, it was clear his experience trumped mine, but he was a complete ass about it. "Hey," he said, "Is 'checkmate' a hyphenated word?"

    "I don't think so," I replied. "Why?"

    He moved a piece on the board. "Checkmate," he said with a smug, shit-eating grin.

    "Tell me, is 'asshole' a hyphenated word?" I said in a slightly loud voice. Greasy-haired coach told me to be quiet. My drive to go off on him was barely abated. I left soon thereafter.

    In the end, I found that while chess clubs can be good places to learn the art, I prefer good old dad and my brothers playing against me. I hope my daughter will feel the same when she gets older.

    As for the greasy chess coach, well, he was put in check himself and was arrested for suspicion of sexual assault on a minor [greeleytrib.com].

  • The first is AcademicChess.com [academicchess.com]. A great site with free lesons, free chess bios, chess problems, etc.

    The second is Chess.ac [chess.ac]. It's cool for playing Live chess or postal chess.
  • Even if you had the world's best computer program for teaching, she will STILL ask questions. That is what kids do. It's hard-wired into their brain. Aliens come down at night and beam random question generators into kids brains.

    The first thing, then, is to learn the game yourself. Chess is not that hard - there are only a tiny handful of core strategies and tactics you really need to learn. Above all, don't bother looking ahead - that's not how the really good chess players work, they use combinations and

  • Take a look at http://www.chessvariants.org/small.dir/losalamos.h tml [chessvariants.org], a small varient. Less squares used means less possibilities, so the tactics are simpler. That one was used in early chess computers. It also means that you will also be trying to work out new strategies, balancing the scales somewhat. As this one uses standard pieces, upgrading to the full game will be easy. Personally, I'd replace one of the knights with a bishop, to have the full complement of pieces.
  • The play of chess requires some skills that are relatively useless in real life. One must spend years memorizing book openings in order to play at a competitive level. The right moves to play for all end games with 5 pieces have been precalculated, and can be looked up in a database. The true fun of chess is in the strategy and tactics of game play, not in spending one's autistic years in 15 hour days of study (a la Bobby Fischer, who, incidentally gave up chess in part because of the issue of rote memoriza
    • just pick 2 or 3 favorite apertures to beat the kids at school with them. Mine are Queen Pawn (Cole's system), the 4 knights aperture, and the Scicillian defense. They're fun :)
    • The play of chess requires some skills that are relatively useless in real life.

      Like:
      -thinking and focusing for longer than GTA3 requires
      -encouraging analysis
      -building decision trees
      -tracking multiple variables in real time
      -watching for your opponent's mistakes
      -among many others...

      With 'usefulness' as the threshold, you might find that Poker or some other form of high-stakes gambling is your best bet, or you might find no games are suitably useful.

      One must spend years memorizing book openings in order to pl
  • You may not be the best teacher out there, but you can probably be the best teacher for her.

    I got to spend a lot of good time with my younger sisters as I taught them to play chess at around your daughter's age. Once they had an interest, all I had to do was tell them how each piece moved, then help them by explaining moves for each side. Just a couple of games later, and all I had to do was watch them to make sure they were making valid moves, and occasionally give them pointers when they were losing (or
  • http://www.af4c.org/club/scripts/public/public.asp ?ns=public [af4c.org] I work part-time for this organization. They specialize in teaching chess to young children. They might be worth a look.
  • Don't want to obsess over chess. There are a lot of other games she hasn't even heard of. We have the other popular strategy games (Backgammon, the obligatory Go, Mancala, and maybe some of the weirder ones like hnefatafl), card games (possibly some card tricks - they can be fun), and maybe some of the better commercial games.

    Personally, I think at that age a whole range of experiences is healthy. But feel free to ignore me.
  • My dad got really bored trying to teach my younger siblings chess, so he ended up teaching them a bowling game in which you flick chess peices with your fingers. The man that still has chess pieces standing at the end wins. Obviously works best with a cheap wooden chess set, and doesn't last very long...
  • Maybe she's already beyond it, but I used QuickChess [liveandlearn.com] to teach my daughter, then about 4.

    It introduces the pieces one at a time using basic games, but IMO the real value was that it comes with a 5 (wide) x 6 (deep) board with one of each piece (plus 5 pawns each). Though we moved on to a standard board, we often go back and use the smaller one for fast games. Sometimes a 'real' game can drag on a little too long, so we switch between boards so she doesn't get burnt out. Once she caught me slipping and got me
  • If you feel you lack experience, then teach yourself (I recommend Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess which has recently been reissued). But either that or learning chess together is recommended. Chess from books is profoundly boring until you reach a much higher level than it sounds like you are talking about.
  • http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0713484640/104-3 6 92773-3719953?v=glance&n=283155 [amazon.com]

    by Irving Chernev. When I was 8, I learned chess with that book. It's fundamental to know the apertures, and this book teaches them by explaining each move.

    You should also buy her a book on endings. Apertures and endings can be memorized. Then it's up to her to do the difficult combination stuff and taking into account the possibilities yadda yadda.

    Software is fine for practicing the combinations and helping her develop h
  • I recommend Arimaa [slashdot.org]. It's a really nifty game with simple rules.
    It was actually designed by a father and son, and it turns out to be "harder"
    for computers than chess while more intuitive for organic beings. It should
    be playable and enjoyable by anone, not just children.

    See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arimaa [wikipedia.org]
  • I learned Chess first through my older cousin, I was 7 or 8 at the time. He is about 12 years older than me, and he was in West Point at the time - on leave for a holiday or something like that. He was, and still is to this day, my mentor and someone I look up to very much.

    The point is, it's much better to learn how to play initially through social means than a computer program. People are more fun and better teachers than computers, in my opinion. After that you can go to Yahoo! chess and learn the i
  • My 6 year old twins are very interested in chess too. I was very interested in chess when I was in school and so I tried to teach my kids chess. Kids now-a-days are like sponges and they can absorb stuff really fast. I showed them how to setup the board. Then was distracted with something else and the matter remained there. After a week, I asked them if they remembered how to set up the board ... and I was really surprised to see that they remembered.

    Now, sometimes I play with them. And I have also bought t
  • I personaly think that having a graphical-system of teaching a child to play a game is awkward. What's wrong with her learning the old fashioned way? Grab a board, grab a friend, and there you have it. I've been in a chess club since I was grade 1. I saw Chessmaster for the first time when I was in grade 6, and didn't find it all that attractive, mainly because its better to play with a person than against a computer, no matter how "complex" the AI (Think Kasparov). Okay, fair point, I didn't own a com
  • My little brother became interested in the game fairly recently as well. One program that he found helpful was Lego Chess. It features a very nice interface that children can relate to (Lego characters), and has a very useful tutorial for the game that introduces you to pawns, first and then works you up to the more useful peices as the program thinks you are ready. It also has an acually beatable AI that may still offer a challenge to the more experienced players. If you work through all of the tutoria
  • by jayrtfm (148260) <jslash@sop h o n t.com> on Monday January 23, 2006 @08:06PM (#14545067) Homepage Journal
    Chess for Girls [vimeo.com] SNL video
  • I bought a copy of Chessmaster a year or so ago, and thought it was a very good teaching tool. There's a great deal of chess knowledge available there, and a lot of simulated opponent skill levels. I really quite enjoyed it.

    As others are suggesting, together time is most important. But if you're trying to learn, learning from an expert is the best way. So my suggestion would be... pick up Chessmaster, but study _together_. That way, you get to be social, but you can learn properly. You'll probably bo
  • Majestic Chess (Score:2, Informative)

    by eugaet (743671)
    I'd recommend Majestic Chess [gamespot.com], if you can still find a copy. It includes a story-driven 'chess adventure' that teaches the basics of chess by working through a series of challenges. My 5yo likes playing it with me quite a bit.

    So long as you're involved in her learning experience, I don't think it matters too much whether your kid learns chess sitting across from you at a real chess board or in a chair next to you playing through the software.
  • Please, let the kid off the computer for awhile. Play with her on a real, physical board game. Preferably on the porch in the spring time over glasses of lemonade, or next to the window in the winter looking out at the snow.

    Incidentally, chess isn't the only game out there. My daughter has so far learned checkers, backgammon, monopoly, othello, and (the very first one I taught her) Go. All on real physical boards. This is coming from a computer geek family with three machines in the house running Linux ex

  • www.Schemingmind.com is a correspondence chess site:

    Games are played as 'correspondence chess' and can take from a few days to a few months to complete.

    'Standard' Membership of SchemingMind.com is free, however some restrictions are placed on standard accounts - for example the number of simultaneous games you can play is limited. For unrestricted use of the site, you should consider upgrading to a 'Full' account.


    So for free she could be playing online with people who are friendly and happy to help new pla
  • I remember that "Battle Chess 2000" interested both myself and the younger cousins for awhile. Having the chess pieces stand up, laugh at each other, and or engage in virtual combat was a neat way to make it more interesting for the young'ns... and I must admit that there was a degree of humour and fun that made added to it for myself as well.
  • GNU Chess (Score:3, Informative)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreakNO@SPAMeircom.net> on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @04:33AM (#14547087) Homepage Journal
    GNU Chess [gnu.org] is a great program, especially if you're like me and keep losing all your pieces.

    I had this one back in the dawn of time, when we had OS2 on a dual boot with 3.11, before I even knew what dual boot was. Hours of fun. On the higher difficulty settings the computer simply cannot be defeated!

    At least, I think it was GNU Chess. It looked exactly like it.
  • by figa (25712) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @02:00PM (#14550419) Journal

    There's a lot of bad advice on here. It's great that your daughter wants to learn chess. I have two daughters, 3 and 7, and I'm teaching them the game. My younger daughter asked to play with me this morning (she mostly just sets up the pieces).

    First, I'm disappointed that so many posters assumed that there's some hidden meaning in your daughter's interest. I can say from experience that, when my daughters don't feel like playing chess, no promises of quality time will get them near the board. I think it's fair to assume that your daughter is genuinely interested, which is great. Also, if she's interested in chess, don't be afraid to teach her chess. Go is a great game, but there's no reason not to teach her chess.

    Over the board play is best for learning chess, as people suggest, but I've found that it's not always the best way to interest my older daughter in the game. I bought Fritz and Chesster [chessbase.com], and she enjoys working with it over working with me. It does a great job of breaking down the game into practical lessons that are fun to play. It may be a bit advanced for your daughter, but I think it's better than using Chessmaster on the easiest level. I have noticed that it's geared toward a male player and a lot of the humor is distinctly Teutonic, but I didn't find it particularly offensive. I think it's probably all you really need for software until she's a tournament player, and it's reasonably priced. I even caught my wife working with my daughter when she got stuck on the king and rook mate. My wife never gets involved in over-the-board games.

    I'd also say that, contrary to what others are writing, chess is not easy for a parent to teach, nor is it an easy game in any sense. It's difficult to play on the same level as your kid if you're at all good, my older daughter doesn't want to play with a handicap, and she as soon as she makes a few opening moves, she gets bogged down and confused. I've had some success setting up chess mazes for her, where I sprinkle pawns on the board and she has to move pieces through the pawns. I've also had success getting her interested in puzzles. I can't blame you for looking for ways to supplement her learning.

    Don't just buy any chess book. Most chess books, even beginner ones, are written for an adult audience, and you'll have to translate what you're reading into lessons that are appropriate for a kid. Plus, for the poster that recommended Lasker's Manual, it's in descriptive notation. No child or parent should have to deal with descriptive notation. Make sure any book you buy is in algebraic notation.

    I can't recommend beginner books for children from my experience, but Chess for Juniors [amazon.com] and How to Beat Your Dad at Chess [amazon.com] are universally acclaimed. I got my daughter Simple Checkmates [amazon.com], and she's able to work through it on her own. Kudos to the person who mentioned Dan Heisman. His Novice Nook [comcast.net] columns are a great resource for beginning tournament players, and he's the author of A Parent's Guide to Chess [amazon.com]. He does online tutoring, and I have a friend who is an online student of his who recommends him highly. I haven't read it, but Susan's Polgar's instruction book [amazon.com] might also be of interest. She's one

  • lego chess is quite good from the teaching chess point of view.

    personally though i've never been a fan of the idea of actually trying to learn complex strategies for something like chess, its a just a game damnit ;) (ofc this means my younger brother can beat me at it which is a pain)

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