If you followed my adventures early in the year you may remember my chess club follies. I ended up with a room full of first and second graders that quickly turned into a zoo. I adapted and survived, but knew that I would rather cater to an older crowd to play some serious chess. I'm much more comfortable with secondary students.
This new session I limited the sign up age to fifth grade and older. I ended up with only fifteen students signed up, but a much different group. Hard to think of ten and eleven year olds as "mature", but we're talking night and day difference when compared to first graders. First graders felt like little piles of id. Pure self centered pleasure all day all the time. Either entertain me, or pay the price.
Last week I had them all complete an online form to get a feel for their level of experience. It ended up being much lower than I thought it would be, but I do have a couple of very good players. I nearly lost to one of the fifth graders. This week I plan to focus on some basic vocabulary and obscure rules like en passant. Perhaps the three rules of castling and pawn promotion.
Eventually my focus will turn towards tactics. Tactics are different than strategy. Tactics are what to do when there's something obvious to do. Like, here, take my Queen. Thank you. Strategy is what you do when you don't know what to do. I've found that tactics are what we should focus on to improve play for younger players. It's the fundamentals for building solid play. Pins, skewers, and forks are what you must master before you think about things like Queen's gambit and the French defense.
Had my second session today. Kids that effectively implemented new learning (castle early) win non-cash prizes. I love letting kids earn non-cash prizes.