DEWEY CHESS CALENDAR
Guide for Monday Morning Chess Helpers
volunteered to help at Monday morning chess club. Great!
We're so glad to have you! Here's a FAQ for new (and
not so new) volunteers.
should the kids be doing?
Playing chess! Seriously,
there's an expectation at chess club that the kids will
be playing chess from 8:00 to 8:50, and they do. No
wandering the halls, no playing tag, no reading, no
doing homework, no browsing the library shelves. Sometimes
the kids get a little noisy. That's fine, as long as
they are playing. Generally kids behave quite well in
chess club, and they are on task.
don't know how to play chess, so how can I help?
do something even more important: supervise the kids.
Insert yourself right into the room. Stand near one
of the tables. Make sure kids who have finished a game
get re-paired with new opponents. Quiet the children
when they get too loud or rowdy. Prevent unwanted "kibbitzing"-one
kid offering suggestions on another kid's game. If a
game gets stuck on a chess question, find an adult who
knows how to play chess to answer the question.
you don't know how to play chess, it's never too late
to learn. Keep your eyes and ears open and you'll pick
up a bit of it. Or ask us to borrow one of our beginner
books. Or volunteer to work in the beginner room.
do I match the kids up for games? (Pair the kids)
there will be someone in the room who knows most of
the kids and can pair them according to ability. We
try and put kids of similar ability together. Once in
a while, we'll give a kid a tougher opponent, and then
we warn him or her "This will be a challenge for
you, but I think you're up for it."
level is also a decent guideline for pairing kids; although
we have some young members of our chess club who can
beat people several grades older than they are.
four kids walk up to you looking for new opponents,
you can sometimes let winners play winners and losers
feel so bad for them when they lose.
half of chess. Kids can learn as much from losing a
game as from winning. Losing hurts sometimes -- especially
when you make a mistake and lose your queen -- but it's
part of the game. Losing hurts most when the winner
of the game is a bad sport about it. When they get comfortable
enough with losing, they will take risks, play more
difficult opponents, and grow more quickly as players.
do I settle disputes about games?
will call you over to settle an argument over a game.
this checkmate?" There are three ways to get out
of check: 1) move the king out of check, 2) take the
piece that's checking your king and 3) block the check
with another piece. If a player can't do any of those
things, it's checkmate.
this stalemate?" Stalemate occurs when the player
whose turn it is has no legal moves, but is not in check.
This typically happens when the player has only a king
left, and he/she is not in check, but doesn't have any
safe squares to move to. A stalemate game is a draw,
or tie. As a matter of fact, a stalemate is something
of a coup for someone who only had a king left and figured
they'd lose the game.
"touch move" rule: if you touch a piece, you
must move that piece. When you let go of the piece,
it must stay where it is. Encourage players to think
through the move before touching the piece. At tournaments
they will play by the touch move rule, so they may as
well get used to it at chess club.
completely stalled by a dispute. Here's what I say to
kids who dig in and refuse to settle a dispute about
a game: "You know, I wasn't watching this game,
so I can't make a judgment about what happened. There
are only two options for you: you can work it out, or
you can abandon this game and start it over. Which would
you like to do?"
very fast games.
You pair a couple of kids. They
come back one minute later and say "he won."
the winner do Scholar's Mate (the four move checkmate)
on the loser? If so, winner needs to go back and show
the loser how Scholar's Mate works and how to defend
can send them back and tell them to switch sides (white
player plays black, black player plays white) and play
just re-pair them with other players.
is chess etiquette?
Chess etiquette is how people
conduct themselves while playing. Players shake hands
and introduce themselves at the start of a game. They
do not trash talk or put their opponents down. They
do not annoy their opponents when it's the opponents
turn and s/he needs to think. They do not call each
other "stupid." (By the way, there are bad
moves, but there are no bad chess players.) When the
game is over, they shake hands and say "good game"
to each other, then set up their boards.
Master Susan Polgar has a motto about this: "Win
with grace, lose with dignity." Wouldn't that be
a great thing to learn by the time you're out of fifth
I do know
how to play chess. How can I help the kids?
you know how to play, you can help when kids have chess
also help them become better players. Observe a game
for a few minutes.
you feel you can offer a helpful suggestion about the
game to BOTH players, do so. "White needs to think
about this, and black needs to watch out for that."
them both suggestions about development and getting
their back row pieces out into the game.
a game is stuck on checkmate, offer to show BOTH children
how to do the checkmate and finish the game. Say to
them "black is going to lose this game, and that's
OK. I want both of you to see how to do this checkmate."
your own child is one of the players, be very careful.
We do not want your child's opponent to feel like he's
playing against you, too. If it's your own child at
the table, offer help to both players, then move on,
even if your child is very young. Kids need to play
their own games. They usually do better when their parents
are not engaged in or watching their games. If you want
to teach your own child more about chess, it's probably
best to do it at home.
kids are in the middle of a game, and they're stuck.
made their opening, and they're not quite sure what
to do next. Neither player has any great plans. The
game is poking along and the players are unsure of themselves.
both players as many observations as you can about what
you see on the board. Say things like:
pieces are well developed."
is about to lose a piece."
has a bad bishop."
how the D file is open."
at that long diagonal."
how all of black's pawns are on black squares and white
only has a white bishop."
8:50 a.m. Now what?
We tell them to set up their
boards and leave them on the tables. They set up the
board so we know we have all the pieces to a set. Adults
put the sets into zip-loc bags, then move the chairs
back to the usual library arrangement.
[Following must be fact checked:
are expected to exit through the library stairs and
out onto the playground. They are NOT to go through
raining, they walk through the school to the Auditorium
(3-5 grade) or the Gym (K-2 grade).]