Teach them young

Doing endgame studies with Sean

Last week Lenny  told me about his son who was very enthusiastic about  the game of chess. The big problem was that Lenny did not have anyone to play with at school and in his neighbourhood. Lenny, who sometimes played with his son could not cope with his son’s appetite and interest for chess.

I was very keen to establish Lenny’s level in playing chess so I suggested  a game of blitz chess with Sean. Within a few minutes I had some insight into Sean’s style and level of chess.

LOVE and ENTHUSIASM – Sean is only 10 but his enthusiasm for the game is incredible. During the game Sean’s brothers were trying to disturb him but he was so focussed. This kid loves the game.

IMPATIENCE – Sean is so keen to play his moves that even before I have played my moves, he is almost touching his own pieces, too anxious and patient to play. This is something we will need to work on.

POST MORTEM – I won the quick game we played and managed to learn a things about Sean and make some conclusions. We did a post motem of the game. We actually replayed some of the moves from the game and I tried to establish what Sean had in mind when he played his moves.

REASONING ABILITY – I asked Sean each step of the way why he had played a particular move. While I did not agree with his moves, his reasoning made great sense. During our game, Sean playing black, was playing pawns on the flanks, a5 (on the queenside) and h5 (on the kingside).  The reason why he never played any in the centre was he did not know the idea or concept of the centre.

CHECKMATES – We did a number of positions on checkmates and Sean generally fared well in these positions except the positions featuring the Knight. The Knight is a peculiar piece. It moves in an L- shape, four squares in total and is the only piece that can jump or skip over other pieces.

POTENTIAL – I have no doubt that Sean has incredible potential. I presented him with his very own copy of the book ” How to play winning chess”  by John Saunders. I made him promise to read the book and I have no doubt that he will. I asked his dad to play chess as often as possible with him. During our future sessions, I will be able to see if there is any improvement. His dad was concerned about Sean’s grades in maths and his lack of concentration. I think that as Sean improves as a chess player he will be able to concentrate better. As for his grades in maths, I hope we can also tackle a few problems in maths and see where the problem might be.

After an hour or so of coaching Sean had become very restless. I decided that it was time to call an end to the lesson. One of the challenges of coaching kids not just chess but anything else is holding their interest.  We need to teach them young, when their brains can still absorb and learn so much. – The Chess Coach

Bruce Mubayiwa

I am the founder and editor of Africa Chess Net. I have been playing chess for over 25 years and love writing about the game. Our goal is simple, to get more people playing chess in Africa! The game of chess is not only absorbing but a great deal of fun.

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