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How We Fail Big Time in Teaching Chess

How We Fail Big Time in Teaching Chess

Nov 26, 2015, 7:14 AM 0

There is an amazing thing about the 1500+ old game. We seem to be failing big time in how to start teaching the absolute beginner in a way that is effective so many many more people could stay in chess moving deeper into it beyond "the moves." Look at the success rate, the States, with three among the world top ten, have produced ONLY about 1000 expert players (candidate masters and higher level of NM/IM/GMs) in a 350 million population - thousands of a percent. Of course, the goal is not for everyone to become an expert, but by teaching more effectively, they would go beyond "the moves" and likely be enjoying "the only game worth playing" (the British novelist R.D.Blackmore) for a lifetime.

The main obstacle to this noble cause? "The moves" first. Which, ironically, is "fundamentally flawed" (Nimzovich, 1929). Chess is power play, it is all about how your chessmen use firing power and exchange it with the other side in the conflict. Chess is not random wood pushing and "grouping of disassociated pieces moving aimlessly through time and space, but rather a finely-balanced system of interrelated chessmen which should interact in an orderly fashion, guided by a unifying purpose," which is an evasive concept of piece coordination and harmony ("the main principle throughout," Capablanca).

The traditional method of early teaching is not conducive in this regard at all. Actually, it is most detrimental in bringing meaning and understanding early in the learning process, which is literally forcing so many out of the game.

It is true, the lines of fire and movements of pieces go along the very same lines. Yet, to teach chess more successfully, it is the concept of firing power that should be introduced first, together with ways of purposeful engagement with the conflicting army, not "the moves" (see how movement is subordinate and only serves power to employ more successfuly).  

In short, we need a MIND SHIFT in how to approach teaching and learning the best of all games. Then we may move beyond thousands-of-a-percent success rate in chess.

art Sergey Kuznetsov, Opposition

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