Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Breaking the 1500 Barrier...A New Playchess High

It was a week ago I played a rated game on Playchess against a 1664 and won. This sent my rating upward in a crisp fashion. Most of my victories come as a result of taking advantage of my opponents inferior position, a position he/she creates for themselves. One day, I will be good enough to force this on lesser opponents, but that requires many boring hours with static positions from a book by IM Jeremy Silman or IM John Watson. For now, the tactics that can be found as a result of inaccurate play from across the board is my gain!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chess in Education Part IV

Chess in Education

Chess has positive benefits for students because it forces the full utilization of an individual student’s cognitive ability. According to chess master Jerry Meyers (2005), chess increases a student’s intelligence by teaching them important skills that, while not specific to chess, are part of the game. Students learn the how to observe what is happening, and how to respond in a logical manner. Further, students learn how to think ahead, develop and weigh options, analyze concretely, and handle and prioritize multiple considerations. In a New York Times article, chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley asserted, “A lot of times [in] education we try to teach kids the one right answer [to a given problem] and that leads….to robotic thinking. We need kids who know how to think.” Grandmaster Ashley believes that chess encourages students to think of candidate solutions to problems before choosing the alternative that offers the best solution (as cited in Saulny, 2005). In a recent Rocky Mountain News article, Colorado chess master Todd Bardwick emphasized, “The time management and logical-thinking skills required of a chess master can be applied to any business or field of study.” Mr. Bardwick declared that the skills he had taught to one of his chess students made it possible for this particular student to complete law school in two and a half years and enjoy considerable success as a lawyer (Bardwick, 2007).

The benefits of chess are not just for students; educators have much to gain by incorporating chess into their curriculum. Mr. Stephen Lampkin (2000), in a Chess Life magazine article wrote about how the North Tonawanda School District, a city located near Buffalo, New York, introduced chess as part of the school district’s program of study, and how chess was responsible for the remarkable gains in the district’s standardized test scores at the elementary school level. Dr. Calvin Deyermond, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, reported, “We have seen improvement in mathematical reasoning skills as well as critical thinking as a result of this [chess] program” (as cited in Lampkin, 2000). Additionally, studies demonstrate that chess-in-school programs in New York City, Houston, Texas, and Bradford, Pennsylvania, have led to higher scores on the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal and the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (Ferguson Jr., 1995, pp. 8-11; Meyers, 2005).

Friday, February 8, 2008

My Playchess Rating...The Highest Ever!

Since I started my association with the Knights Errant and this crazy world of tactical training through torture, my Playchess server Elo has increase by 150 points. Much of this is due to the increase in tactical vision and awareness. I must confess it hasn't done a thing for my USCF rating, which seems to be stagnant at 1294. Perhaps if I would play in more tournaments that too would increase to around 1400 or so. As for now, I am celebrating my new best Elo!

I have added this chart of my progress on Playchess. A good eye for detail will notice that I don't play many rated games; however, let me assure you I do play everyday! I usually play against guests while learning an opening. Then I try it out in a rated game. So far so good.

One item of note: There is going to be a free chess tournament in the Kansas City, Missouri, area with a prize of $300. It doesn't sound like much, but if you are in town it doesn't cost you a thing, except your time.