Choose Your Move Carefully

Nov 23, 2007, 6:46 PM |

[Note added on Nov 25:  I've already decided that this blog should be more than just what is listed below.  See my subsequent blog entries, which should be of general interest. The inaugural post below will only be relevant for the kids in our chess club.  -KG]


All right, here's my chess blog, for what it's worth.  I'm the chess coach for a small, but fabulous group of kids at the Utica Center for Math, Science and Technology (,_Science,_and_Technology) in suburban Detroit.

 One of our inaugural members, Cam, created an MST Chess Club site here on, where we regularly play each other and others.  Please visit us and challenge anyone. 

I intend to post my chess club handouts and other material here for them, and anyone else, to access.  We only started this school year, so there is not much yet, but I hope over time that this material will grow.  To get things started, here is our very first handout.  In the next day or two, I'll try to post a list of outstanding URL's.  A couple are given here.

In the meantime.....Choose your move carefully, in chess and in life.

 -Kurt Godden

----------- MST Chess Club, handout 1 ------------ 

MST Chess Club
Miscellaneous Initial Topics

Here are a few basic concepts that we’ll touch on this Thursday before playing:

A. Terminology and Unit Values:   

    a. When referring to your army on the board, they are all called units.  This term refers to everything.  Units are then subdivided into pawns and pieces, the latter comprising everything except the pawns.

    b. Each unit is generally regarded as having a numeric material value, as follows:  (This is extremely important to understand.)
         i. Pawns: 1 point. 
         ii. Knights and Bishops:  3 points (But:  This varies by position.)
         iii. Rooks: 5 points
         iv. Queen: 9 points
         v. King:  Infinite value.
    c. Given the above, we think of a Bishop as worth 3 pawns, etc.  Use these values to help decide what is worth trading, e.g. if you win the opponent’s Rook for your Bishop, you come out 2 pawns ahead.

    d. Minor Pieces:  Knights and Bishops
    e. Major Pieces:  Rooks and Queen

B. We will spend the first 10-15 minutes discussing the general strategic notion of Development.  This refers to the importance of moving your pieces off of the back row, or rank (as it’s called), in the opening moves of the game.  Developing your pieces appropriately gets them into position for the coming attack, and also uses them in defense of each other and of your King.

C. Notation:  If you ever want to read a chess book, you’ll need to know how to read chess notation.   Algebraic (e.g. Nf3) is the modern standard, and is far easier to read than the old English descriptive notation (e.g. N-B3) because algebraic is not ambiguous the way descriptive is.  Unfortunately, many classic chess books have not yet been converted to algebraic.  You will pick up algebraic easily during the next several weeks.  Don’t worry about studying it.

D. There is an excellent chess store at Universal Mall in Warren (12 Mile and Dequindre).  It’s called “All the King’s Men”.  At any given time, you will find many outstanding players engaged in games at the tables.  Some players are master level.   The store also hosts tournaments every month.

E. Additional Websites: (initial short list)

    a.   Mentioned by our class member, Cam, last week.

    b. Michigan Chess Association.  Go here to check for local tournaments.

    c. US Chess Federation. If you want a rating, you’ll have to join and play in sanctioned tournaments.

Remember to Bring Your Boards to the Next Club Meeting!!!