Thursday, November 10, 2011


A couple years ago, I was looking into opportunities for our boys to improve their chess skills by taking classes or joining a club. After a bit of searching, I found there wasn't much available in our immediate area. Having no desire to make a two hour round-trip for them to play chess, I took matters into my own hands and attempted to organize our own little chess club.

My personal knowledge of chess is rather limited. I know how each piece can move, how to set up the board and I even know that the proper name for the 'horse-thingy' is actually the knight. Oh! I also know that Bobby Fischer was an incredible chess player because I saw the movie, Searching for Bobby Fischer. Needless to say, I was not equipped to teach a group of children how to be experts at chess.

Using my feminine charms, I was able to convince my husband that he would make a great chess instructor. I asked a few friends if their children would like to play and our chess nights were born! We usually average around 6 kids, but if everyone showed up at once, we would have 14. The kids range from age 12 down to our youngest player, age 4. My husband begins each session with instruction. He often links the laptop to the television and uses the website chessKIDSAcademy to explain new concepts to the group. Once instruction has ended, he pairs the kids up and they play a few games. He usually tries to have them apply whatever new tactics they have learned in that lesson.

Dealing with a group of kids involved in many activities creates scheduling challenges. After a few months of spotty attendance and shuffling dates, we were ready to go last week. Friday morning, my husband announced that something had come up for work and he would be tied up on the computer at the exact time the kids would be arriving. I knew that I was not capable of pulling off the instruction. I also did NOT want to be the one to have to cancel again. My husband came up with his own alternative. JT could be the teacher.

I must say, I viewed this plan with much trepidation. Could a ten year old really pull this off? I sent out a few emails asking the moms to plan to be more hands-on than usual. (Most of the time, the moms, including me, hide out upstairs and chat while my husband and any other dads are sent to the battle front.) Everyone was very positive about the last minute change. JT spent some time working out a plan with my husband. He would review some of the previous tactics and have a question and answer session for the instruction portion of the evening. He wrote out a sheet with notes to follow and seemed at ease with his leadership role.

The night went well. JT led the group in the review. He asked questions and encouraged those who answered. When games were played, he went to the different tables to help the younger kids. After the first round of games had been played, he had a chance to play a couple games himself. All in all, he did a fantastic job.

JT is a natural when it comes to teaching. He has such excitement about sharing knowledge; it's hard not to be interested when he speaks. I think with a few more years of maturity, he will be able to lead groups like this with little problem. For now, I know that I have a teacher-in-reserve, if the need arises again.

1 comment:

Annie said...

What a great experience! Isn't wonderful how things just work out that way sometimes?

Good going, JT!!