Chess Merit Badge Tips: Chess Board And Pieces
Learning the history of chess may be interesting, but learning how to set up a chess board and pieces is the first step to actually playing chess!
For best results -- and to prepare scouts for real tournament play -– purchase a roll-up board that has the letters a-h and the numbers 1-8 imprinted on at least two sides of the board. The letters a-h designate the files (columns up and down the board) and the numbers designate the ranks (rows across).
In a later article, I will discuss how to name each individual square with the letters and numbers. The tips below are to help scouts learn how to set up the board and the pieces. For complete instructions for all the pieces, consult the merit badge pamphlet and ChessKid.com.
Remember these tips for setting up the board and pieces:
A light/white square is always in the right-hand corner (for both players)
The queen goes on her own color (light queen on a light square, dark queen on a dark square)
The light/white pieces go on ranks 1 and 2. The dark/black pieces go on ranks 7 and 8
To practice how the pieces move and capture, select one piece (for example, a king) and place it on its starting square. Then place several pawns of the opposite color on various (legal) squares on the board.
Then practice moving your king to capture each pawn. The pawns are not allowed to move. But the king cannot capture a pawn if it is protected by another pawn.
This is simply an exercise to practice how each piece moves and captures. After some practice, try capturing these pawns in the fewest number of moves. In the diagram below, ignore the black king in the corner.
To practice how pawns move and capture, play the pawn game. Only the eight pawns for each side are set up in their starting positions. The goal of the game is to get one of the pawns to the eighth rank (for White) or the first rank (for Black).
Whoever gets a pawn to the last rank first wins. After several tries, add one piece at a time and play the pawn game (with the same goal). in the diagram below, the kings have been added.
Using a demonstration board or regular chessboard, have the scout share tips on how to set up a chessboard and pieces, calling out the names of the pieces as they go on the board.
Teach a family member or friend how your favorite piece moves.
Create a poster for each chess piece that shows how the piece moves.
Write a story about your favorite chess piece and why it is your favorite. Include how the piece moves in your story.
Create a chess position on the board with a knight vs. six pawns (or however many you choose) and challenge your friends to capture all the pawns in the fewest possible moves without putting the Knight in danger of being captured by one of the pawns. Ask if there are alternative solutions.