The ‘Parents’ Role in Chess Development

It is clear that chess talent is a gift of God, but nevertheless the role of a young chess-player’s parents is rather significant.

First of all, it is most important to identify a child’s abilities as soon as possible and create the conditions for their realization. In fact, chess abilities become obvious right after a child is shown the moves of the pieces and explained in the most primitive form the basic rules of chess strategy. It usually comes about at the age of 5-6, sometimes even earlier. So the parents should take steps to develop their children’s abilities as soon as possible. The tempo of chess life becomes faster and faster and makes us start as early as possible. World Champion Boris Spassky had his first class at 11, which was a great achievement in his day. Nowadays the Chinese chess-player Bu Xiangzhi became a grandmaster at 13 and Sergey Karjakin at 12!

There has been a lot of discussion as to the problem of whether chess is a sport or not. Former President of IOC Julio Samaranch even arranged for a special poll to be conducted, the results of which helped chess to be finally included in the Olympic family.

Chess players themselves have never doubted that chess is sport. Of course you can hardly achieve real success in sport if your parents haven’t given you strong health. Obviously good health is what everyone needs. But no considerable progress can be made without it in chess, as the game requires both physical and psychological tenacity throughout the whole tournament. This problem is particularly acute nowadays, when a round’s duration reaches 5-7 hours, and sometimes one has to play two games a day even at rather big tournaments, such as Capella la Grande (France). But some chess-players, including my pupils, spend hours and hours on their end games. That’s why I always ask my pupils “to run in the morning regularly and frequent a swimming pool no less than twice a week”. This is one of the components of their individual work. Running and swimming are the kinds of sports which suit chess-players best!

It is most important that the child should have a strong nervous system which the parents must take care of. The most significant thing here is the psychological climate, which is created by the child’s closest relatives in the first place. If the parents trust their child, understand his ambitions and desires, they imbue the unsophisticated young chess-player’s soul with confidence. Surely this adds to making the child’s nervous system stronger.

I would like to give you an example. One day a talented chess-player who had just finished the 8-th grade at school decided to come to me from his city where there were poor conditions for studying chess seriously. The “mother’s darling” had to live all alone in an alien city, manage the household and go to a new school. I asked him more than once how it had happened that his parents let him live all alone at such an early age. It was not until he had become a strong grandmaster that he told me his mother’s words: “No one has a right to kill a dream”. A mother like that deserves a lot of praise and thanks! Would many mothers do the same? And would that boy have become a bright grandmaster, if she had acted in a different way? Much to my regret, there are other examples to the contrary.

 Contributed by : A.Vaysman  Honored coach of Ukraine

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4 Responses

  1. I have a 6 year old son who I taught how to play chess when he was 5. I started by explaining how the pieces move and capture. I then started playing with only king & queen vs. king and rook & king versus king. That kept him going for a while. I taught him how to record games using chess notation. I then tried to impart some basic opening principles, but this is harder than teaching endgame, because all of the pieces are on the board. I then encouraged him to play computers on their easiest level, hoping that he will try some of the principles that I’ve taught him. It is at this point that I realize why my son likes chess so much. He likes to spend time with his dad. For this reason, he tends NOT to play computers. I wish that there were more children his age in our area that he could play, but chess clubs for his age group are so far from where we live.

    Chess is a game that appeals to the mind that likes to solve problems. My son likes to solve problems. Do you have any suggestions how I can continue his education?

  2. My daughters and I have played together since they were 3 & 5. Obviously at 3 the games were NOT FIDE rules. My youngest is now 11, 1300 + on ICC and heading (I hope) towards her third top two finish at Chess For Success State tournament.

    Above all make chess good quality time with Dad. Keep adding pieces until he can handle them all. Pawn games are fun. All pawns on starting squares. 1st to promote wins. Each piece in turn can be added.

    Keep challenging his knowledge through your own reading. Besides opening basics (1 or 2 central pawn moves, develop pieces, knights before bishops, don’t move a piece more than once) don’t worry about it.

    Train to spot and benefit from hanging pieces and not to hang his own. Tactics, tactics, tactics. Lots of good books to get positions from. Set them up on the board.

    As for people to play, check with his school. Look on the web for scholastic chess organizations in your area. Start at chess club at his school. K-5 is not too big an age spread for beginners (I teach several with a private company).

    Contact USCF (if in the states), FIDE or local chess clubs for instructors. Some may run kids chess clubs. When he is ready to play complete games check out FICS (free internet chess server) geared towards kids. If he gets more serious, ICC is a great resource for serious play (it may be hard to find strong competitors locally).

    I hope some of this helps. I have spent many fabulous hours playing chess with my girls and am gratified by the intellectual benefits they have also gained. Keep it fun and keep new information flowing.

    P.S. I have a good book list if you are interested.

  3. Dear Chris!
    Thanks for your comments , very useful!

  4. YAA Adding this to my bookmarks. Thank You

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