How did I Learn chess - from my Parents perspective: Narrated by my Dad.
My Name is Akshita Gorti (chiky, now age 7). I live in Chantilly (South Riding), VA (Loudoun County).
Between Age 4 to 5: Very seriously, started with setting up the board and the legal moves. I was able to sit only for 15 minutes, maybe 20 minutes along with chess board. My First teacher - Padmaja (Now in NJ,USA).
At age 5 and 4 months: Next, started to learn how to attack with different pieces and then how to play a game, even though without any objective. The only objective here is to learn how the pieces move in combination - the very beginning. Had tough time to understand the Knight moves. Did not learn anything about Queen.
At age 5 and 6 months: Next, with very few pieces on the board, about 3 or 4 and with easy positions - like one move check mates, I was able to grasp the concept of King and the attack. Also, learned how to play a game - meaning with all pieces on board, spending less time on the later. All the above was only to get introduced to legal moves , board, the war between black and white and understanding the attacks. Used Rooks to learn to attacks with few pieces on board. I would say simple endgames to start with.
Is this a good way to start ? Is there any better way ? I am not sure. But I did.
Age 5 and 9 Months: Started with a book and a chess teacher (Mr. Peter Snow). The book was "Beginning Chess by Bruce Pandolfini". This book provided me with more basics , understood the chess notation and as I moved along solving the chess problems , I started to understand more about the piece movement and possible simple checkmate positions. This book gave me the basics to start playing chess tournaments. I was confident that I could play all legal moves. At this age I did not know what tactics meant nor strategy. My mom would write within the book besides chess problems within the book about my ability to solve it - like , took much longer time to solve, or did miss some aspect like fork or a pin, solved it pretty quickly etc.. More notes would have been better. As I started working on the chess problems, I got more interested in the chess game. I had developed an attitude - that I will not lose or will not be checkmated. Used to cry and get upset upon falling behind. Mom and Dad would deal with this scenario patiently. Mom would say "It is ok to lose". My Mom took some time to correct her sentence from "It is ok to lose" to "It is NOT ok to lose". At this age I would go to tournament thinking that I would win games and tournament. I developed an attitude that I wanted to win. One fine day my Mom came across a book by "Josh Waitzkin - The Art of Learning". My Mom would read this book out loud to me when we would travel or at home. She corrected her sentence "It is not ok to lose". She got good ideas on how to teach chess to kids. I fell in love with the books by Pandolfini. Even my Mom liked these books would sometimes say I would like to write some books like Mr. Pandolfini.
At this age you would be wondering how did I play chess tournaments without understanding or learning about the openings. I did learn one simple opening the e4-e5 moves, then it was more of a common sense - Knight, Bishop in that order and it did not matter how the opponent played. My Bishops would get captured as I did not know how to play with Bishops and then Knights and then Queen, but I was stronger with my Rooks. I did learn the opening principles gradually. I would win some games all with my endgame knowledge.
My Mom started teaching me the End Games very seriously. Learned a lot from my chess teacher and all about chess basics and these lessons were certainly different and effective than what I was learning from my Parents.
What was my study plan ?
I was putting more hours every week. Almost every day on learning some aspect of chess , specifically spending more time on end games. At this time I was following these books - Silman's Complete Endgame Course, Pandolfini's Endgame course and Winning Chess Strategy for Kids by Coakley. And learning from something from every book and no proper methodology. Just doing Ad hoc manner. I was more focused on end games than any other part of the game. I was also getting the basics from my Chess Teacher once a week. I was getting the other parts of the games from my teacher.
I would play end games with my Mom and would get upset upon not able to make winning moves and sometimes would cry for not winning.
Decided to join US Chess Center , DC. This would be a good place to start playing with a lot of kids and get exposed to a chess playing environment. This place gave a good start on interacting with kids and the outside chess world. I would not agree kids to join just any club, rather select the one that is the best for kids and serious chess centers. US Chess Center , DC is one such place for kids starting to learn chess. Learnt a lot from Mr. G and others. My Dad would take me every Saturday and I would spend about 1hr 30mins there learning and playing with kids. I liked it.
At Age 6 Plus: My Dad was not involved in lot of teaching me chess. Only my Mom did. My Mom focused on Endgames. How did my Dad get involved. My Interest in chess and hearing from people saying that "She is good" , "She got talent", my Dad could no longer stop himself, jumped right into the chess world with me. My Dad started to teach me openings and middle game. He found himself into a very difficult situation teaching. He is not a chess player and never played any chess. Started the rough path. Started reading Internet articles, blogs etc. on how and what to teach kids. ChessCafe articles provided him the right knowledge and he got the "Lamp in the dark", well a sort of GPS which showed him the way. My Dad never looked back, got a few books, read a lot of Internet articles and started teaching me opening. Did not bother if it was right or wrong, but always went back thinking - what is the right way to teach and what if he is teaching me something wrong.
I started Playing both unrated and rated tournaments and slowly improved the way I performed in tournaments. I was able to perform well after 4 or 5 tournaments. This proved that I was learning the right stuff. I got my first medal and everyone was happy. Medal for me was not the only one. I wished I got a Trophy. My Dad would always say that even if you did not win a trophy, be there at the award ceremony as it would help motivate you to accomplish (in my terminology "The Trophy") my goals. I would ask Mom when would I win a Trophy. I would a get a very positive answer and also a clause added to that I need to work very hard. I never looked back. Started learning more.
VA State Championship in March 2009 was my first state tournament and I played in K-3 section and I was in Kindergarten. I won 2 , Lost 2, Drew 2 - a total of 3 Points and was not bad at all. My Dad & Mom were happy and they seriously thought about an organized chess study for me. A Plan and Goals. That is interesting. My Mom and Dad were struggling hard to think of chess study plan , while Mom continued to teach me various concepts of endgames.
1. My Mom set herself the goal of making me a strong endgame player and set herself a goal - teach the endgame basics and practice 3 days a week.
2. My Dad started to think on Openings and Middle Game , hmmm a very broad subject. Started breaking it down to teach me just the opening principles and Tactics. My Dad would spend reading a lot of articles on game improving techniques. Gradually, he came to a conclusion that I do a lot of Tactics and get a better sight of the board with pieces - Pattern recognition.
So, what, As I played tournaments, I was my playing my own way. This is when my Mom would say we have been teaching Tactics and she does not put to use in any of the games she plays. She certainly was skeptical, that I would ever use any tactics. She was getting impatient. My Dad would convince her that it would take sometime and it is not easy, one day she will make use of them and this is a gradual process.
Books I was getting my Lessons:
My First Tactics book: Checkmate Ideas - John A Bain - for Tactics, Theory & Board Vision and Pattern Recognition.
Silmans Complete Endgame course - Endgame Basics.
Logical Chess Move by Move - Irving Chernev - This is on how to start the game and practically understanding the opening moves correctly.
Winning Chess Tactics - Yasser.
5334 Problems, Combinations and Games - Polgar.
Was I playing games :
Yes. Using Fritz. We tried ChessMaster, but we did not like it.
That is it. I never looked back again.
One fine day (12/18/2009), I had my first big win - 5th (Fifth Place), Grade-I in National Scholastic K-12 Championship held in Dallas, Texas December 2009 (Results). And I still need to do better. This is just the beginning.
In general what was my study plan:
Everyday, I would learn about endgames, Tactics and a few openings from Logical Chesss.
1. I Do Chess everyday. This is a must. Take a break one day (maybe Friday). I do swimming on Friday to keep with my health - a physical exercise.
2. I started with Tactics - Learning theory what this means - Pins, Forks etc..
3. Back Rank Mate Ideas. The idea here is ' not to get back rank mated'. Understand on how to defend back rank. I used the Book Checkmate Ideas - John A Bain. Once I was comfortable with this book. I moved to another Tactics Book - Winning Chess Tactics by Yasser Seirawan. I went slow with this book since I was complete beginner. This book helped understand many aspects of the Chess Board and Tactics.
4. Simeltaneously, I was going through the endgames , following a book by Jeremy Silman - Complete Endgame course. Learning a lot about basics - King and Pawn endgames, Rook endgames, then Queen endgames. (Even though I would always trade queens somewhere in the opening and middlegame. I think I was comfortable that way).
5. As months passed by, my results got better in Kindergarten. I started to move on to learn Combinations and more tactics. I got myself the 5334 Book by Polgar. Started sequentially. My Dad & Mom were very strict about going sequentially and in a discplined manner. No Jumping from book to book and no adhoc manner. Now my study plan added one more subject - Combinations. Now we needed a Plan on the White Board. Then My Mom said I would have to Play Games in Fritz everyday in 'Sparring' Mode. Everyday was not possible. We moved to aletrnate day. This helped me understand the games better right from opening and opponent moves. I was getting better everyday.
Overall, as I moved from Kindergarten to Grade-I, I did tactics,endgames,Combinations, Play using Fritz Sparring mode and Logical chess.
I was not sure if this lesson plan was good, but helped me a lot.