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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Chess Question

The kids periodically ask me for electronic gadgets, such as iPods, and I'd be inclined to honor their requests if and when they improve on their bedmaking and putting-clothes-in-the-hamper rituals. My thinking is that if they leave clothes on the floor, what would they do with their iPods? And, if they did the same with their iPods, what would happen to them?

If you step on clothes, they might get a little dirtier. If you step on an iPod, you can't put it in the washing machine and fix it. Make sense? Okay, so it's my house.

I've taught the kids chess, figuring it's a game that will make them think and solve problems. They like it, and now I've given them an extra challenge -- beat Dad, and I'll buy you an iPod. Nano, Nano with video, what have you. Dad will play you on demand, and Dad will not teach you any pointers during a game. (My thinking on this translates to sports -- I try not to correct a bad swing during a game; we'll wait until practice to do so). I've even ordered a chess-for-kids book on Amazon to give them something to learn from, and I'll work with them after we play, but I will not help them win.

Right now, they know how to move the pieces, but they don't know anything about strategy. They somewhat embrace the concept that you have to attack while defending (golf is somewhat similar -- you have to pound the ball hard to get it close to the hole but be delicate enough to putt it in after having mustered your adrenaline to send it flying). Anyway, right now opening moves consist of moving pawns one space, say to king's bishop three. Not exactly the most robust of openings.

I have a fifth grader and a second grader. Neither is a math whiz (although having gone to school with some, I'm a little glad they're not), but both have a good sense of games.

What's the over and under? How long will it take both of them to beat me?

Sure, it depends on how hard they work at it, how much they play and how much they like the game. Assume they're in the middle of the continuum. They're not obsessed with it, but they don't hate it. Assume that they think it's a challenge and sometimes fun.

What do you think?


Anonymous tim said...

I'd say it depends on *your* skill level -- I have no idea how good you are. I was once four-consecutive-year school chess champion at St. Augustine Catholic in Napoleon, OH, but I'd get smoked by anybody these days as I haven't played much since retiring on top in the eighth grade.

Either way, chess is a great thing to get kids involved with, as I really believe it opens up their analytical brains -- forcing them to a second level of thinking. Poker does the same thing, btw.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Escort81 said...

I think you're OK for another three years. However, you should relish the day that one of your kids beats you in chess -- it means that you have done your job as a parent.

Re: Tim's comment, the downside of poker is that kids lack the emotional maturity to deal with gambling -- and poker is gambling because of the random nature of drawing cards (out of ten hands, an average poker player can beat a champ a few times, based on a good hand; an average chess player will almost never beat a grand master).

4:08 PM  
Blogger the said...

I started playing at 11 (5th grade) and by 12 I was a 1200 USCF rated player, to give you an idea. A 1200 rating is good enough to consistently beat any intelligent adult that plays chess on a regular, but casual basis. By the end of high school I was competing at expert-level (about 2000 rating).

For kids chess is all about aptitude and interest. If the child has a good knack for puzzles and problem solving, and actually *likes* the game and competition, you could be in trouble in a year or so, assuming you don't work at getting better. If the child's interest wanes, well...I'd expect the Nano to be obsolete by the time they beat you. You might be buying them an iPod Shadow or some other Apple gadget.

And, c'mon, pawn to king's bishop 3 (or pawn g3 in algebraic, err preferred, notation)??? You need to start attacking the center! Teach d4 and e4 openings!

1:38 PM  
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10:25 AM  

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