Our primary objective for the Hotchkiss and Tasby Chess Clubs 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 summarily 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. There will probably always be students on a waiting list who want to be in the club. Cell phone use for any purpose during chess club is strictly 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. A lot of material will need to be learned in a short time: new words, new rules, practically a new language. You will learn to think more clearly. If your parents or relatives play chess, most of you will be beating them regularly very soon. Many of you will be able to beat your instructor as well, if he is teaching you well. Unlike many other games, 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 new club members will not yet be able to play chess. In fact, some of you may have never even seen a game of chess before. So for the first few weeks, our more experienced players will have to be patient while we work to get everyone up to speed. Advanced players will be expected to help the beginners learn the rules and the various 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. But we are going to play by the real rules (rules that have been in existence for 600 to 700 years), so be open minded enough to re-learn a few things. If we all pay attention to what is going on, we will all be proficient players by the third week of chess club and we won't have any disagreement on the rules of chess.
We are going to 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. We will start out by looking at the end of the game: not the beginning. We will discuss practically every way there is to checkmate an opponent and the traps that can lead to stalemate or loss. Then we will learn a few basic checkmates. Finally we will learn how to set up and begin a game properly. That ma sound completely backwards, but it's really the best way to learn how to play chess. We will also learn how to write a FEN string.
By our fourth chess club meeting every student who is still in chess club should 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 should expect to 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 Brooklyn have developed.
Chess has a potential to entertain you and to continually 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)
Every club member will immediately sign in at the beginning of each session and will then proceed directly to a table either to begin a game or to continue a game in progress, writing down each move on an approved AN scoresheet or game book. We are going to start talking AN from day one, which will no doubt be a little disconcerting for all of us at first, but which will quickly become second nature.
All scoresheets and game books are to 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 do not write down their moves will be subject to suspension or expulsion from the Club.
Players who are unable to get to a session in a timely fashion may be excluded from that session and will not be allowed to remain in the library. At the conclusion of each session, all games in progress will be immediately suspended. 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 school staff can prepare the library area for the next day's activity.
Any player who fails to demonstrate appropriate progress in recording his/her games or who is disruptive in any way will be banned from further chess club activity.