Our primary Chess Club objective is to learn to play excellent chess. Our goal will always be to improve our playing skills. Students who insist on doing otherwise may be suspended from the club at the discretion of the Chess Coach and will not be readmitted without his consent. There is no time for idle conversation or any other activity during any session. Other students may already be on the waiting list who want to be in our club. Cell phone use for any purpose during Chess Club is prohibited. Computer use for anything other than supervised chess activity is also prohibited.
In some respects Chess Club is more like a college-level course than a club. Much material will need to be learned in a short time: new words, new rules, practically a new language. You will learn to think more quickly and more clearly. If your parents or relatives play chess, most of you will probably be able to play as well or better than they can play very soon. Many of you will probably beat your instructor sometime within the school year. There is no luck in chess. You and your opponent both start out with even odds, and the winner is the one who plays the best game.
At the beginning of the school year some of you will not yet be able to play chess. So for the first few weeks, experienced players will have to be patient while we work to get everyone up to speed. Advanced players will need to help the beginners learn the rules and concepts that go into becoming a chess player. Some of you may think you already know how to play the game, but many times even 'experienced' players find that they have 'learned' some things that are contrary to the real rules. We will play by official rules that have mostly evolved 600 to 700 years ago. If you pay attention to what is going on, you will become a knowledgeable player by the third week of chess club and we won't have any disagreement about rules.
We start out by learning 'how to move the pieces', and 'how to talk in Algebraic Notation (AN). We will learn the concepts of checkmate and stalemate. Our first lessons will emphasize the end of the game: not the beginning. We will study practically every way there is to checkmate an opponent, and we will study some of the traps that can lead to stalemate or loss. We will learn a few basic checkmates. Finally we will learn how to set up and start a game properly. That may sound completely backwards, but it's really the best way to learn how to play chess. We also learn how to write a FEN string and will learn the differences between FEN and AN.
By our fourth chess club meeting every student who is still in chess club will know a few things about chess that many people who have played chess for five or ten years do not know. And every student will be able to look at a chess book and understand what it says. Many 'experienced' chess players cannot do that. In this club you will learn 'how to play chess', not just 'how to move the pieces'.
Early in the school year we will watch the movie, 'Brooklyn Castle', which documents some of the student experiences in the most famous public school chess club in the United States. My hope is that you will catch some of the spirit of that chess club and that your experience in our chess club will give you the same passion for chess that these students in New York City have developed.
Chess can entertain you and help you to develop your brain for the rest of your life. Furthermore, this game can open up scholastic and career opportunities for you that you cannot even imagine. So hang in there and pay attention for a couple weeks while we prepare for a great roller coaster ride in the coming school year and probably for the rest of your life.
Afternoon Chess Club Protocol - Hotchkiss: Wednesdays (3:00 to 5:00 pm). Tasby: Thursdays (3:35 to 5:30 pm)
Sign in at the beginning of each session. Then, unless otherwise instructed, proceed directly to a table either to begin a game or to continue a game in progress. We will write down each move on an approved AN scoresheet or game book. We will start 'talking AN' from day one. This will soon become second nature.
All scoresheets and game books will remain in the library at all times and will be redistributed to their owners at each session. The Chess Coach will periodically review the scoresheets and game books to insure that all players are writing their moves in proper and legible AN. Players are responsible to fill out the date and player names for each game that they play.
Players who are unable to promptly get to a session may need to be excluded from participating in that session if they miss important instructions. Any player who misses a Club meeting may have to do some extra work to catch up with the rest of the club members.
At the conclusion of each session, all games in progress will be immediately suspended. In most cases it will be necessary to document the game-in-progress by writing down the FEN position for later resumption. Players will then put the chesspieces back into their storage containers. Stack all boards upside down in a single pile. Also stack the score sheets and gamebooks, and leave the library quickly and quietly so that the Chess Coach and staff can prepare the library area for the next day's activity.
Any player who fails to demonstrate appropriate progress in playing chess and recording his/her games or who is disruptive in any way will be banned from further chess club activity.