Greetings, this is week 4 of my chess lessons at Aseema. Couldn't conduct a class last week and hence couldn't write about one. But this week, we had an interesting recap session thanks to a new addition to class.
The lesson started with the volunteer co-ordinator informing me that I have another member in class, a ninth grader who had been doing remarkably well in studies but doesn't take much interest in any sort of sporting activities. It was my task to kindle her interest and make her interact with her fellow chessmates. I hadn't expected this addition and had planned other things for the day but I was quick to change my plans.
The new entrant to class, like her classmates, was a beginner too. She had some knowledge about piece movements but that was about it. The first order of things was to bring her up to speed. We dived right into board setup and piece values followed by general rules. The interesting thing I noted was that the other kids were really eager to teach her and I let them do it at certain times when they were fairly confident of their understanding. We winded this up quickly. I felt the girl had grasped the basics quite easily. Next we moved onto a topic which, as I realised in the subsequent minutes, was plaguing my class; notation.
We had covered notation in the earlier lessons and I had expected the kids to be eager to explain. It wasn't so when I picked them to answer some of my notation related questions. What ensued was a 35 minute recap on notation for the regular students and a 35 minute introduction for the new student. At the end of the recap, we played a verbal game of sorts. I described a move such as "Rook captures a8 square with check" and one by one the kids gave me the notational equivalent. After 3 to 4 rounds of this, I noticed a majority of the class had grasped the concept well, including the new student. What was disappointing was that a few regular students were still struggling. To them I assigned a buddy who was someone from the class who had understood the concept. This buddy was responsible for teaching them the concept over the week and have them ready for class by next week.
At this stage, one or two kids were visibly tired. One even remarked that her head was hurting. Thinking I hadn't covered anything mentally exhausting that day, I told her and the class how Vishy Anand as a 13 year old had once played Manuel Aaron, 9-time National Champion while being sick and wrapped in blankets and still managing to defeat the master. I told this to them in order to renew their enthusiasm for the next task at hand, a set of 6 mating puzzles. It probably prepped them up as they got cracking with the puzzles.
While the kids were solving the mating puzzles which I have put at the end of this post, the new kid was feeling a little out of depth because she found it all alien to her. In order to increase her familiarity with such tasks, I helped her work through the worksheet with me. At this time, one kid asked me an interesting question,"Sir, what will happen if we increase the size of the board to something like 9x9 or more?" I put this question to the class and after some discussion, they quickly zeroed in on the fact that the game will become more difficult.
Another kid was complaining to me how the puzzles were really tough to solve. Here, I told them that my 9-year old brother(FIDE - 1214) solves such puzzles everyday. Surprised that a kid younger to them could do it, they got working immediately.
While I was expecting them to take time to finish the task, a kid walked up to me and handed the completed sheet. He had correctly found the winning moves and recorded them perfectly! I know I shouldn't have favorites in class, but this boy was a gem. I intend to keep a close eye on him in class from now onwards. Contrastingly, there was another kid who was having trouble finding the "right move" for his opponent.
It was now time to wind up my class and we qquickly discussed the solutions which everyone had gotten, the rest were to be done in class next week.
Over the few weeks I have taught them, I have come to know that they don't possess a chess board at home. By next week, I hope to arrange 8 such boards which they can use at home.
That's all for this week. Please let me know if you have any suggestions/criticisms in the comments below. If you would like to join me in my endeavors, drop me a message on chess.com.
PS - The 6 mating puzzles. Hope you enjoy them.