Chess Training Materials

Review of the Level 1 Package
By The Chessville Weekly

Vol 1 Issue 3, June 23rd 2002

Site Review

ProfessorChess
<http://www.professorchess.com>

Jim Mitch has created both an entertaining, instructive website and a series of engaging training materials.  Writing under the pseudonym Professor Chester Nuhmentz (rhymes with "chess tournaments") Jr., these materials target the scholastic crowd (K-7).  Mitch started writing chess instructional material when he coached his kid's school chess team, and says both the site content and the commercially available training materials "...can help players to work on fundamental skills at an appropriate degree of difficulty. They're adaptable to many styles of chess instruction, and are flexible enough to use just about anytime, anywhere."

Major sections include the Chess Training Materials, Stories, Free Material, and Online Quizzes, among others.  I found the boards on the quiz page difficult to view, and the font used for the solutions too small, although the content is very age and skill level appropriate.

"Tales From the Diary of King Gustafson" uses a fanciful tale of knights, castles, and such, to tell a chess story.  The story illustrations include "maps of the battlefield" which actually are snippets of a chessboard.  Next installment due to be posted June 24th.

Free downloads include scoresheets (-blank, for recording your game, classic game, e.g. Zukertort-Anderssen Breslau 1865), a 1-page summary of chess tips, homework (tactical puzzles), and a set of Morphy games with quizzes about the moves.

Exercise books (these are available commercially; check his web site for more details & ordering info) are written for six different skill levels (Pawn through King).  The chess exercises in Level 1 are intended for students who already know how chessmen move and how they make captures; understand basic chess concepts such a check, checkmate, stalemate, and castling; have played at least a few full games of chess; and are familiar with the basic idea of how squares on a chessboard can be identified by using letters and numbers.

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  The exercises in Level 1 help students to practice these skills: recognizing key patterns -- checks, checkmates, stalemates, pins, forks, skewers; using a king and rook to give checkmate;Cover  identifying strong and weak opening moves; distinguishing between checkmate, stalemate (or neither!); systematically looking for the three ways to get out of check; and using basic chess notation skills.  Other materials work on skills such as visualization, identifying features of opening positions, basic tactics, and responding calmly to checks.

All of the Level 1 training materials have been picked up by the USCF, and are available at their site.  The rest of the training materials are available through the Professor Chess site.  Due to the quality of material available, this site is an excellent resource for the scholastic coach, as well as fun for the budding Bobby Fischer.


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