Critical Thinking Through Chess Curriculum 

KEEP TRACK OF YOUR CHILD'S PROGRESS WITH THIS CHESSOLOGY CURRICULUM SCHEDULE.

Lesson One: The Board

The first lesson consists of familiarizing the class with the board itself which consists of 64 squares, 8 wide (FILES) and 8 long (RANKS).  The horizontal relations of squares are called “ranks”.  The vertical relations of squares are called “files”.  Squares that run from corner to corner in a slanted fashion are called “diagonals”.  There are numbers that run up the length of the board to catalog the eight ranks.  There are letters that run along the width of the board to catalog the eight files.  By combining a letter with a number (in that order) the class can pin point any single square on the board.  This is called algebraic notation.  

Algebraic notation comes into play for group Q&A, discussions and charting movement in the course of a game especially tournament play.

 Lesson Two:  The Pawn (1 point)

The first of six pieces introduced to the class are the pawns.  There are eight pawns and each of these move straight up any given file only one square at a time.  Pawns' starting positions are along the second rank for white and the seventh rank for black.  On each pawn’s first move it has the option to move two squares, but this is for each pawn's first move only.  The pawn is the only piece that captures differently than it moves.  A pawn captures along diagonals the distance of one square.   The pawn's movement and capabilities make it worth one point on a numeric scale of value.

 Lesson Two Exercise:  The Pawns Race

The object of the game is to be the first to the opposing player's 8th rank or capture all opposing chess men.  The pawn’s race pits three pawns against three pawns for a very simplified and intimidation-free approach to perfecting the piece in a manner tantamount to tic tac toe.

 Lesson Three:  The Knight (3 points)              

The second of six pieces introduced to the class is the knight.  There are two knights that begin the game in B-1 and G-1 for white / B-8 and G-8 for black.  The knight has sporadic movement in that it is the only piece on the board that jumps over other pieces and travels the distance of two squares and one square to the side in any direction.  The knight captures only what it lands on and not the pieces it jumps over.

Lesson Three Exercise:  Piece for Piece

Take opposing pieces and organize them in the pattern of the knight’s movement.  Every time the knight moves it must capture a piece until the board is cleared of all opposing pieces.  Set the opposing pieces in a pattern that will result in being cleared only if the knight chooses the right path.  This exercise will develop proficiency in movement for the knight.

 Lesson Four:  The Bishop (3 points)

The fourth of the six pieces is the bishop.  This piece moves only along the diagonals of the board to any distance as long as its path is not blocked.  There are two bishops at the start of the game.  The bishops begin on C-1 and F-1 for white/ C-8 and F-8 for black.  Eventually it will come to be noticed that each bishop’s movement will remain on the same color squares.

 Lesson Four Exercise:  Piece for Piece

Take opposing pieces and organize them in a diagonal pattern of the bishop’s movement, every time the bishop moves it must capture a piece until the board is cleared of all opposing pieces.  Set the opposing pieces in a pattern that will result in being cleared only if the bishop chooses the right path.  This exercise will develop proficiency in movement for the bishop.     

Lesson Five:  The Rook (5 points)

The fourth of six chess pieces to be introduced is the rook.  The rook moves vertically and horizontally to any distance on the board as long as nothing blocks its path. There are two rooks for both colors at the start of the game that begin on A-1 and H-1 for white / A-8 and H-8 for black.

Lesson Five Exercise: Piece for Piece

Take opposing pieces and organize them in a any pattern.  Being that there is no square the rook cannot attack, every time the rook moves it must capture a piece until the board is cleared of all opposing pieces.  Set the opposing pieces in a pattern that will result in being cleared only if the bishop chooses the right path and allocate one opposing piece to be captured last.  This exercise will develop proficiency in movement for the bishop.  

 Lesson Six:  The Queen (9 points)

The fifth piece to be introduced is the queen, which is the most efficient and powerful piece of all chess pieces.  The queen moves vertically, horizontally, and diagonally in any direction the length of the board as long as nothing blocks its path. Both sides begin with one queen on D-1 for white and D-8 for black.

 Lesson Six Exercise:  Fork Frenzy

To understand this exercise you must first understand the fork: one piece, generally a knight, queen, or pawn, simultaneously attacks two (or more) of the opponent's pieces.  Some sources state that only a knight can give a fork and that the term double attack is correct when another piece is involved.

Place several opposing pieces on the board and place the queen in the middle.  The object is to place the queen in squares where it attacks more then one piece at a time.  This exercise will optimize the proficiency innate to the queen’s capability.

 Lesson Seven:  The King (infinite value)

The sixth and final piece to be introduced is the king.  The king moves one square at a time in any direction.  There is one king per color at the start of the game and its starting position on the board is E-1 for white and E-8 for black.  It is the single most important piece in the game in that the object of a chess game is to trap the king.  It is very important to stress that at no time does any piece actually capture the king like you would any other piece.  The king has a difference from all other pieces that makes this dynamic possible.  The king is the only piece that must immediately be removed from danger when attacked.

 Lesson Seven:  Check, Checkmate, and Stalemate

When the king is attacked, this is what is known as Check.  An opponent must announce the attack of the king by saying "check" to his or her opponent.  This announcement serves as a warning that the king is in jeopardy and must immediately be taken out of check by either blocking the opponent's path of attack or moving out of the opponent's path of attack.

The object of a game of chess is to checkmate the king.

Checkmate is a position in which a player's king is under attack or in check and the player has no legal move (i.e. cannot block, take or move out of check). A player whose king is checkmated loses the game.

A Stalemate is a position in which the player whose turn it is to move has no legal move and his or her king is not in check. A stalemate results in an immediate draw.      

 Lesson Seven Exercise:  Checkmate Race

Set up the entire board for white and place only the king in its staring position for black.  The object of this exercise is to checkmate black in as few moves as possible.  White has twenty moves to checkmate the black king or loses in this exercise.

 

Opening Strategies

After having learned the basics of chess, (pieces, value, movement, capability and limitations), classes will begin to consist of openings.

An opening is the most efficient way to begin a game.  In the course of a school year all students that have completed their studies in the basics of chess will move on to “Opening Strategies” where they will learn the openings most used in tournaments on all levels of game play as their understanding progresses.  If a player has a good grasp of how to go about developing a game in it’s opening, this will make for a winning advantage on the scholastic level of play; more obscure openings have on occasion defeated masters of play. There are about 5 openings that are strong enough to win a tournament game on every level of play and each should be covered on a two week schedule. 

End Game Strategies

After having developed a greater understanding of the opening game, the necessity of a strong end game comes into play.  Students will learn that in the last stages of the game a player is commonly left with the same certain pieces.  A game can be won with as few as two pieces in many situations.  Players will learn “End Game Strategies” to optimize the use of these pieces in pairs or groups of three, and how to forecast winning strategies based on the worth of a piece.  In the course of one year students will cover as many end game strategies as possible in the order of priority of understanding and necessity. 

Tactics of Game Play

With every move of the game a player should always look for a check mate.  There are, however, a host of other opportunities that can be found in assessing a board for options.  There are certain moves and maneuvers that a seasoned player will have a strong knowledge of in order to boast the greatest level of game play.  In “Tactics of Game Play” a student will learn forks, skewers, mate in one, and mate in two opportunities that often present themselves in routine form because of the uniformed approach some scholastic players take to the game.  In the course of a school year the student will learn through puzzles and historic games played by famous masters for group discussion and game play application.

Advanced Application

Each of the above levels of game play have advanced aspects that can be difficult to grasp.  Once a student has familiarized him/herself with introductions of each level of game play, an advanced approach to these levels can be grasped with ease.

Organic Exercises:  Certain areas of the game are more complicated to grasp than others and there are several exercises that speak towards each dynamic of the game.  For strengthened understanding and proficiency the exercises are as follows:

Piece exchange:
Being that each piece has its own numeric worth on a point scale, it is illogical to capture certain pieces if it will result in the loss of a piece with greater value.  Simply posing this question with various parings of pieces will strengthen knowledge of which pieces are acceptable in an exchange.
The capture of a pair of pieces, one white and the other black, usually of the same type (i.e. rook for rook, knight for knight etc).
The exchange is used to refer to the advantage of a rook over a minor piece (knight or bishop). The player who captures a rook while losing a minor piece is said to have won the exchange, and the opponent is said to have lost the exchange. An exchange sacrifice is giving up a rook for a minor piece.

Pawn Knight Games:
In this exercise you can use three pawns and one knight, or for a version with more variables to calculate you can use eight pawns and two knights.  The object of this game is to either capture all of your opponent’s pawns first or be the first get a pawn to the opponent’s eighth rank.

Pawn Knight Bishop Games:
In this exercise the board is set up with all eight pawns.  Both bishops and knights are pitted against each other in a race to the opponent’s eighth rank or to be the first to capture all pawns.

Pawn vs. Queen Games:
In this exercise the board is set up with eight white pawns pitted against one black queen in a race to either safely make it to the queen's back rank or to capture all opposing pawns.  This game can be played with as many as sixteen pawns depending upon the player’s level of skill.

Rook Walking:
This is an end game strategy requiring the black king's starting position to be in any of the four center squares of the board, and two opposing white rooks in their starting positions. The object of this exercise is to checkmate within twenty moves.

King Queen Checkmate:
This is an end game strategy that requires the black king's starting position to be in either two of the four center squares of the board and the white king and queen to begin in their starting positions.  The object of this exercise is to checkmate within twenty moves.

King Rook Checkmate:
This is an end game strategy that requires the black king's starting position to be in any of the four center squares of the board and the white king and one white rook to begin in their starting positions.  The object of this exercise is to checkmate within twenty moves.

In conclusion these various exercises will result in proficient and analytical game play promoting multiple variable calculations.

R e l e v a n t   L i n k s 

 

Montessori teaching method.

Asset building.

Psychological chess studies.