With my 9 year old son Sam having won his first tournament at the weekend (5/5 in a local junior event) and improving fast I’m sure that parents and chess teachers will be interested in our secret training method. It involves having dialogues between the pieces as we play through different ancient miniature games (we’re currently on Du Mont’s 200 Miniature Games of Chess) with a particular emphasis being on the Black flank pawns misbehaving.
There was a period in which the queen side pawns got snot on the board, which the other pieces found disgusting, but we’re now on to them fantasising about having ‘special powers’. This is perfectly natural as they don’t often see much action and want a bit of fun.
The two Black’s rook’s pawns fantasise about being ‘nooks’ (combined powers of knight and rook), the knights pawns think they are ‘neens’ and the bishop’s pawns are ‘nishops’. They then have to be continually reprimanded for trying illegal moves, for example after 1.N-KB3 by White both Black’s rook’s pawns want to play nook takes rook with a back rank nook mate. Or if White castles short then the two knights pawns will often try a ‘supported neen mate’ on g2!
My son finds this such fun that he insists on talking about it at school and when I mentioned that we do this on Facebook one German Grandmaster commented to the effect that the ancient and venerable game of chess did not need such gimmicks. And Grandmaster John Nunn would have us burn such old books in the first place due to the poor quality of the content. But I still maintain that chess has wonderful educational benefits and needs to be fun in order to engage children rather than bore them silly.
Anyway, here’s Sam with his trophy and medal, plus his ‘star of the week’ certificate from school: