When my husband and I were newlyweds, we tried learning to play chess. We visited with friends often, and one math whiz friend offered to teach us the game. It turned into a quickly dropped frustration as he showed us how he could beat us very quickly. Fast forward a few years. As a mom, I heard of the benefits of chess for children and wanted that for my own children. We tried playing again, tried teaching the kids, and even read books about how to play the game. Two of my children seemed to enjoy it, but none of us had a good enough grasp of the game.
This fall that is changing rather quickly. Elliott's Chess School DVD was included with our Starter Chess Learning Kit from Chess House. The kids and I watched the DVD and we are learning together, step by step, piece by piece how this game should work. In the introduction of the DVD I learned we were setting up the board incorrectly. Not only did the placement of the pieces matter (we had that part right) but even which color square is in the corner matters. As well as the DVD, the starter kit includes a competition style game board with ranks and files labeled, chess pieces, and a carrying case. Extra white and black queens were also included so they didn't have to be substituted with other pieces if a pawn makes it all the way across the board.
Our homeschool group has what we call a chess club. It isn't a formal competition group, rather a monthly time for the kids to get together with other kids for the purpose of playing chess. We tried a few years ago, once. That was when I first saw the boards with the letters and numbers, and I was overwhelmed. It seemed like there was more and more to this game than I could ever learn, but I still wanted the kids to be able to play. We actually came home and made paper strips with the letters and numbers on them and placed them under the edge of our board. But without lessons, even those strips weren't useful and they were quickly thrown away. We skipped chess club after that.
After watching the introduction, we set up our board correctly. Then each section of the DVD clearly explained a new component. This DVD (Pawn level: level 1) explains each piece in a chess game. How it can move, how it can capture, and a numbering/scoring system which helps determine which move would be the best choice are all explained in a step by step format. The game board is illustrated on the screen with the moves clearly marked and the ranks and files (also explained, those letters and numbers on the edge of the board) called out to help learn while watching. We have watched these short episodes several times each. It is like having an extremely patient chess teacher in our home with us repeatedly explaining the basics of the game as many times as we need.
This DVD has helped make the game of chess more understandable for all of us. I mentioned before that 2 of my children tried playing with me before. Now all three of them are following Elliot's tips and playing the game. There are more DVDs to this series, and I feel sure my children and I would all continue to learn if we continue to watch the others.
The Starter Chess Learning Kit is currently available for $39.95 and is recommended for ages 4 and up. A workbook is also available. Additional DVDs progress through 3 more levels.
We decided not to watch TV on vacation, but our new chess game is packed in the handy carrying case. After we return home, not only are we planning to join the chess club, but I offered to share the DVD to play at our meetings and benefit everyone.
See what other crew members shared in their reviews here.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.