Being a Chess Parent

Everyone is so focused on the kids that we too often forget the parents.  This should help any parent trying to understand chess growth process!

Sometimes children get overwhelmed with chess. It is quite normal and almost entirely avoidable. Just focusing on it a little will make it run itself!  I’ll try to briefly explain what’s going on.  This should give everyone the what, where, when, why, and how answers they need.

All chess players develop the same way, through disorientation and reorientation!

Disorientation: Kids and parents have to change what they thought about chess. The parents have to let devices play the kids when they are too busy. Give your child a chance to play immediately when they ask and allow them to play as long as they want.  Don’t interrupt them for food, drink, bed, chores, or  homework.  As long as you’re sure they’re ok, don’t even call their name!  This is how they build concentration, stamina, and improve memory. The reason they have to play when they are being coached or after studying is to relieve stress and double check “stuff”!  If there’s a lot going in and nothing coming out, they’re going to be overwhelmed!  If this happens, they will forget everything and become frustrated.  If they don’t ask to play frequently, then parents have to encourage it. Just 2 or 3 sessions a week like this with any person or device would be enough, with coaching or studying, to help them improve and remember more!  Every trip in the car is a chance for them to be playing chess. Children have told me this makes them move faster because they want to finish the game before they get to where they are going. The devices teach how to open a chess game, and won’t let them break the “real” rules of chess. When your children use devices, they must play a complete game!  No, “take backs” and they must play until the game is over.  If they don’t, they will not come to understand check, checkmate, and the unique, “Run only” properties of the king.  Have them play the device at a level they can beat.  Have them change color each time they play. When they win 5 games in a row, increase the level of the device!    

Reorientation. Measuring training success: Tournaments: The most accurate way to measure the success of chess training is tournaments. Playing in or visiting a tournament is normal chess exposure! Playing only people they know leaves a child at a severe disadvantage!  Children constantly recommend really good, insightful, and/or instructional moves that get shot down without a proper investigation or explanation by familiar or weak trainers!  A tournament allows your child to play whatever they want, against stronger and weaker opponents, based on their score in the tournament. This makes the tournament fair to every one because their performance is determining who they play!

Saying you don’t have to be good at chess to teach chess is true but you have to know the rules to teach the rules! I see elementary school children from all types of chess instruction that have been playing for months and sometimes years with no exposure to chess notation, check, checkmate, a draw, stalemate, en passant, or rules of castling. What they learn from understanding these rules helps beginners overcome players that only have experience!

How to get your child good at chess without becoming a chess player;

1.) Get your child to play chess with anyone or anything as often as possible regularly and especially after being coached or studying chess.  There are local clubs listed here on the website. There’s links to chess.com there as well.  Please use it.  We get credit for free and paid accounts. 

2.) Have your child write down every game they play. Once your child knows the moves, there’s no talking during a chess game! If they make an illegal move fine, but no advice, coaching, faces, or opinions. The proper method is to record the game and go back over it. If you want them to take ownership of their performance, it has to be, “THEIR” performance.  It’s not their performance until you leave them alone and let them play whatever they want!  Watching them make bad moves is going to be painful.  Some of the good moves they are going to make will blow you away!  Sharing ideas will help both of you get better, faster!  You will be shocked at the quality of conversation you are having after the 4th or 5th game!!  Many devices save games that can be reviewed later as well!

3.) Get them to a tournament so that they can see what other children are doing. Let them walk around and look at all the games in progress and how little some of the good players are!  Have them compare the number of moves made with the amount of time that has been used!

4.) Communicate with coaches immediately when there is a concern that is affecting progress. I love getting calls and emails from parents.

5.) Get your child some chess literature. 5334 Puzzles, Problems, and Games by Lazlo Polgar is a, “must have” that does not require parental guidance. Its all watch and learn! You cannot be too strong or too weak for this book. Buy it used. (Smile) RCI also offers superior training materials!

Sincerely

Coach Mike C

Organizer , The Richmond Metropolitan Grand Prix

Coach Twin Hickory Elementary School

Coach Tuckahoe Elementary School

Coach JB Fisher Elementary School

Coach Richmond Alternative School

President Richmond Chess Initiative

Coordinator Richmond Middle School Chess League

Secretary Virginia Scholastic Chess Association

Board Member Virginia Chess Federation

USCF Certified Tournament Director/Referee

USCF Certified District Level 2 coach

USCF Rating High 1943

2 thoughts on “Being a Chess Parent

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