Teaching Chess With Live Crickets

GM KaydenTroff
Jun 23, 2010, 8:59 PM |

Impossible, you say.  There is no way that crickets and chess have anything to do with each other, right?  Well, you would be wrong, and if you want to know how you can teach chess with live crickets, you will just have to read the rest of my blogSmile

Over the past few days my family and our friends the Treimans (Lauren, Scott, and Lisa) have been running our TNT chess camp (Troff-n-Treiman though if you ask the Treimans they may say it is Treiman-n-Troff).  We have three levels of classes: Fundamentals, Intermediate, and Advanced.  My 14 year old brother, Zachary, teaches the fundamentals class and then my other brother Jeremy (17) and Scott (16) trade off teaching the other two.  Then Lauren and I just help wherever we are needed. For me, that mostly means playing games with the kids when they are done with their tournament games.  Right now we are in the middle of our five day camp and then we also have 2 three day camps.  There is more info on our camps here if any of you are interested: http://tntchesscamp.blogspot.com/

We have done a lot of fun things so far and there is more to come!  One of the things we did was put real and living crickets down the kid’s backs to help them get the concept of "space gone bad".   “Space” is one of the seven powerful secrets that we teach at the camp.  We had them tuck in their shirts so the crickets wouldn't get out so easily and then we put them in their shirt.  We had several volunteers chicken out once they saw the live crickets (and maybe because my brother had one on his hand and he screamed and threw it down on the ground like he had been bitten).  I don't know if all of those who actually stuck with it liked the crickets invading their space Wink. I think the kids got the conceptSmile.  And just in case you are wondering, we released all the crickets back into the wild after we were done.  Note from the writer of this blog: no crickets were permanently damaged in this experiment…I think.

We also did an activity where we split the kids into two teams and then we had each team pick a sculptor.  Then we took the sculptors over and gave them a chess related word.  The sculptors were then blindfolded and given some play dough.  They then had to make something out of the play dough that would help the other people on their team guess the word the sculptors had been given and the sculptors couldn't talk.  We had words like "Pawn Structure, Diagonals, Stalemate, and Mating Net." (Try it sometime—how do you sculpt stalemate?)

We do lessons from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and then have lunch (and a little dodge ball) and then from 1:00 to 3:00 we do different kinds of tournaments.  Sorry for all you Chess Boxing fans, but we are not doing a Chess Boxing Tournament (parents tend to frown on their kids boxing at chess camp though we did have them sign a medical releaseSmile).  We did, however, do a Running Blitz Chess Tournament.  We read this article that said in Europe they had the idea that chess was a complete mental sport with no physical, so why not combine it with a physical sport.  And so right here I have to put the emphasis on RUNNING a Chess Camp.  How is this done?  Very simply, put the board on one side of the room then put the clock on the other side.  So, every time you make a move, you have to run to the opposite side of the room (and our rooms are pretty big) to hit the clock.  You should try this one too sometime.  It is a lot more tiring than you think!!  We finally had to let them play some regular games in between to rest a bit.  It was quite fun to watch though!

We also have done a Chess 960 tournament, a Bughouse tournament, and tomorrow and Friday we will run a long tournament.  Before the tournament tomorrow though we will do a little bishop smashing (not the religious kind so don’t worrySmile).  I am bringing one of my chocolate bishops that they let me keep from the chocolate chess set that was on the show “The Little Chocolatiers”.  The kids will have a chance to smack a piece off with a hammer (that we cleaned off of course) and they get to keep it.  I thought that was very generous of me to donate it to our campers.

In the afternoon, after the first couple of rounds of our long tournament, we will have our water battle!!  This is the one of the best parts of the whole week.  The kids earn the water battle by passing off the chess skills they have learned throughout the week.  We have slip-n-slides and water guns and basically just get REALLY wet!!

Not exactly sure how well this is all preparing me for the World Open that I leave for a week from tomorrow since I come home exhausted every day, but…


It has been a while since I have put in a chess puzzle so in honor of our chess camp, here you go: