Monday, September 29, 2008

Chess for gifted kids

I had asked about how to find some chess competition for my gifted 12-year-old over at Spynotes this summer, and got a lot of good advice. Here are some of the results, for those of you who are interested.

1. Many gifted kids crave personal contact. Because their intellectual peers are often considerably older, they're used to doing a lot of their advanced thinking online. So computer chess only goes so far in sustaining their interest in the game. They're still kids. They want to see who they're beating, or who is good enough to beat them.

2. Because they're still kids, they often have holes in their tactical thinking. There are a lot of good chess books out there. A good one to start with is Weapons of Chess, by Bruce Pandolfini. There is also a good computer game for kids who are learning chess, Majestic Chess. (Unfortunately, this seems to be only available for Windows.)

3. Asking around is the best way to find an adult who might be willing to play chess with a gifted kid. We found one at the local college. He's an assistant track coach, and tells me that he enjoys playing with Walker. So far they've played four times, and he's beaten Walker every time. (Walker is delighted by this; it's not often he finds someone better than he is at something, and he's learning a lot.) As you probably already know if you have a gifted kid who plays chess, it's usually not a success to find anyone near your kid's own age who wants to play more than a couple of games with him, because either he will always win or he will have to fake a draw just to be polite.

4. The local public library is a good place to advertise your interest in finding a partner for chess. Retired folks are sometimes available, and are often delighted to find a young person who is interested in the game.

Have any other suggestions? Want more specific benefits of my experience? Leave a comment!


Jill in Atlanta said...

perfect timing-- CD tried to install a chess program a friend gave us over the weekend and it wasn't working so research was what would have come next.

Harriet said...

Thanks so much for posting this, Jeanne!