Before chess gets competitive, game of kings can be enjoyed with kids
August 22, 2013
By Joe Hadsall
Globe Features Editor
The Joplin Globe
Thu Aug 22, 2013, 12:42 PM CDT

JOPLIN, Mo. — Chess is on the table as an activity for the Missouri State High School Activities Association to start regulating. Along with bowling, target shooting and bass fishing, the game of kings may be something that area high school students can compete in.

But until then, chess remains a classic game with rules that haven’t changed since its creation at least 1500 years ago, according to the U.S. Chess Federation. That gives parents plenty of time to enjoy a classic game together.

How to play

The game’s six pieces all have specific ways they move across the chessboard. Some move pretty simply: The queen moves across any horizontal, vertical or diagonal line any number of squares; the king moves just one square. Rooks move horizontally and vertically; bishops move diagonally.

Some pieces are a little more complicated, such as the knight’s L-shaped jumping over other pieces, and the pawn’s different ways of moving and capturing.

Allen Bishop, the advisor of Crowder College’s chess club, helps run a weekly chess club at the Neosho/Newton County Public Library. He said all it takes to teach a kid chess is patience.

“It’s just a matter of explaining the rules and connecting with players on their level,” Bishop said.

Computer programs can help, too, Bishop said. Many programs, including plenty of free apps for tablet PCs and smartphones, have a helpful feature. When a piece is clicked, the available squares to where it can move are highlighted.

Those programs may also help parents brush up on their own skills.

Chess is a game that doesn’t rely on much luck: All the pieces and their abilities are exposed on the board, meaning that there are no surprises that come from dice rolls or revealed cards.

The trick is to be fair — because it’s a two-person game, it’s great for one-on-one time with a child.

Next level

If a child starts to show some talent for the game, the next step is to find a chess club. An organized club, such as ones found in schools, offers a tournament structure and a willing pool of players, Bishop said.

“It’s possible to become a certified chess coach,” Bishop said. “I’ve been a tournament director and directed rated tournaments before.”

The biggest thing an aspiring player can learn to do is take notation, Bishop said. The squares on the board are numbered with a standard system so each move in a game can be easily recorded.

“Once they learn to read annotation, they can record their own games and go over them,” he said. “They can use that knowledge to read chess games so that they can learn what the masters have played. That willingness to study is critical.”

Three weird moves

Castling: Involves the rook and king. Basically, the king moves two squares instead of one and the rook moves to the square on the other side. This can only be done if all the squares between the rook and king are clear, if the king and rook have not moved the entire game and if the king isn’t in check.

En passant: Pawns already capture pieces strangely, but this takes the cake. If a black pawn advances two squares on its first move to a square right beside a white pawn, then the white pawn can capture by maneuvering directly behind the black pawn. (Vice versa on the colors — both sides can capture en passant). This move can only be done on the move directly after the captured pawn advances.

Check: A player who places the opposing king in check is not obligated to announce that the king is threatened, Bishop said. However, if the player whose king is in check tries to make a move that doesn’t get the king out of check, the first player is obligated to correct them.


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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