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SBRanch.org is a resource website available to the general public, but it is maintained primarily for use by the Dallas ISD Hotchkiss, Tasby, and Conrad Chess Clubs.


Our primary Chess Club objective is to learn to play excellent chess and to participate regularly in local school district-wide chess tournaments on individual and team levels. Our goal is to continuously improve our playing skills. Students who insist on doing otherwise will be dismissed from the club at the discretion of the Chess Coach and Staff and will not be readmitted without appropriate Staff consent. There is no time for idle conversation or any other activity during any club session. Cell phone use for any non-chess-related purpose during Chess Club is prohibited. Computer use for anything other than supervised chess activity is also prohibited. Any player who fails to demonstrate appropriate progress in playing chess or who is disruptive in any way will be dismissed from the chess club.


In many respects Chess Club is more like a college-level course than a club. Material will need to be learned in a short time: new words, new rules, practically a new language. Chess helps us to learn to think more quickly and clearly, and studies have shown that chess players generally tend to maintain better grades than the general student population. It is arguable whether chess makes you a better student or if perhaps better students tend to join the chess club, but I suspect that the game itself helps you perform better in all of your other academic pursuits. 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. My experience indicates that most of you will beat your coach occasionally or even frequently within the school year if you pursue the game seriously. 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. The more you play each other the better you all will become. And playing against someone who is a stronger player than you are is the best way to improve rapidly.


At the beginning of the school year some new members will probably 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 good 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 quickly become a knowledgeable player, and we won't have any disagreement about the rules of the game.


We will start out by learning 'how to move the pieces', and 'how to talk and think 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. We will learn how to set up and start a game properly. We also learn how to write a FEN string and will learn the differences between FEN and AN.


Every serious chess club student will learn a few things about chess that many people who have played chess for ten years or more 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'.


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 few weeks while we prepare for a great roller coaster ride in the coming school year and probably for the rest of your life.


Chess Club Schedule - Tasby (and Hotchkiss): Tue/Thu (3:40 to 5:10 pm) - Caldwell Mon/Wed (4:00-6:00)


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.


Scoresheets will generally remain in the library at all times and will be redistributed to their owners at each session. The Chess Coach will periodically review scoresheets to insure that all players are writing their moves in proper and legible AN. Players are required to indicate the date and both player names on their AN sheets and in OneDrive validation records for each club game played.


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 will have to do extra work to keep pace 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 chess pieces back into their storage containers. Stack all boards upside down in a single pile so that the Chess Coach or designated assistant can roll them and store them properly. Also submit all score sheets at the prescribed table, and assist the team staff in preparing the library area for the next day's activity.


Many of our sessions will be partly or completely devoted to instruction and discussion, rather than actually playing chess against an opponent. It is very important to pay attention and to participate in these class sessions that will help you learn and improve your game.