09 February 2012

Lesson of the Week

On the way out the door en-route to chess club Tuesday afternoon, I grabbed this month's Chess Life in the knowledge that Bruce Pandolfini's "Solitaire Chess" column would have half a dozen tactics positions. My Chess Life subscription is a benefit of membership in the United States Chess Federation.

I selected two positions for the K-2 group that I met with that afternoon. In the course of looking at the problems--one featuring a pin, and one featuring a skewer--I sought to impress upon the children some general principles of tactics. All tactics involve some form of double attack. Each turn in a game of chess, a player moves one piece. Children are quick to point out the solitary exception to that statement: castling. Moving one piece means that it is normal to achieve one objective with that move. But, when one move can do two things, then we have a tactic.

One = two

Children love to challenge the absurdity of the math in the equation above. Hence, they remember the claim. Getting them to seek to do two things with each move, or as many as possible, is the beginning of getting them to look for tactics. Eventually, they will learn to accomplish positional objectives as well as tactical ones.

Having left my copy of Chess Life at the school on Tuesday, I set up the positions from memory yesterday. I believe these are accurate, but in the second one, the White pawns may be one file off. Black's king might be on the wrong file as well. Neither of these differences affect the tactic.

Use a pin to win material.

Black to move

Employ a skewer to win material.

Black to move

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