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puzzles

June 6 - Chess Puzzles

Chess puzzles today!

Zephyr got a bunch of books at the Book Barn (the greatest used book store on planet Earth) yesterday and he really wanted to read them, so it was a little difficult getting him to take time out to do a chess puzzle.  I promised him it would be quick. I had laid out the following problem from Bobby Fischer's book:

Play along!

Play along!

Zephyr was black, and had to find the move he had to do to get out of check. It was a problem he needed to look at the whole board to figure out, but there was only one correct answer.

Nope, pawns don't move like that

Nope, pawns don't move like that

Did you get it? It was moving the Rook over to interpose. It took a little time and focus, but Zephyr got there.

Afterwards, while Zephyr read, I quizzed Lyric on piece names (once again he got everything except the Bishop, the only two syllable chess piece) and started showing him how each piece moved. I said he'd like the Knight because it makes L shapes when he moves, like the first letter of "Lyric".

And then Lyric wanted to see how many pieces he could balance on an upside down Rook.

And then Lyric wanted to see how many pieces he could balance on an upside down Rook.

Selfgrade: B. It would've been nice to fit in a game with Zephyr, but it wasn't in the cards.

May 2 - Chess Puzzles

HYPOTHESIS: Having kids teach each other helps lessons stick. 

PROCEDURE: For the start of Chess Puzzles this morning, as we've done the past few months, I quizzed Lyric (my youngest) on the six chess pieces. He got 5 of 6 again (still a little tough to remember the bishop!) - no progress, but no steps back, so I'll take it. For what it's worth, he was calling a knight a knight (instead of "horse") and a rook a rook (instead of a "castle"). 

But then I switched it up a bit by having Zephyr (my oldest) teach Lyric how each piece moves. The responsibility thrilled Zephyr, and Lyric seemed to pay pretty close attention. I think it was a simple trick that reinforced the lesson for both kids. 

Then Zephyr and I set up for a game.  

Zephyr contemplates his first move.  

Zephyr contemplates his first move.  

I was impressed by Zephyr's focus this time... He seemed to pick up how to interpose with pawns since last we played.  

The main lesson I think I end up teaching Zephyr with Chess Puzzles is that a King in check can only do three things:  

  1. capture the checking piece
  2. interpose another piece between the checking piece and the King, or
  3. have the King flee

We go over those three options every time I put his King in check, and I think it's starting to sink in. Today, we ended on this position: 

Was it checkmate? We investigated.  

Was it checkmate? We investigated.  

As I got him in this position, we went over all the flight squares for the King and showed what piece would be covering that square, determining that yes, this was checkmate. Just in time as we had to leave for school.  

RESULTS: as I said, I could see some progress in Zephyr's game this morning, and Lyric paying attention to how the pieces moved was a big step forward for him. More to come, but once again, very happy with what we achieved.  

April 4 - Chess Puzzles

HYPOTHESIS: Monthly Chess exercises will breed more familiarity with the game and better ability to plan and strategize

PROCEDURE: Younger subject (Lyric, age 4 and a half) was first tested on being able to name all six chess types. Previous testing revealed he knew 4 of 6 pieces' names. Older subject (Zephyr, age 7 and a half) was tasked to stand behind younger subject and make "it's good" signal if correct (both hands up in the air) or "no good" signal (arms crossed in an x) depending on the answers of younger subject. Results:

RESULT: Younger subject got 5 right and missed only one (the Bishop, admittedly the trickiest piece). This means a 17% increase in knowledge, not bad at all!

Then the Older subject was challenged to a game on the clock and to figure out the following puzzle (from Black's perspective) from Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess: Can you figure out if black is checkmated, and if not, what their move is out of checkmate?

Zephyr's finger is on the black King. This might be tricky!

Zephyr's finger is on the black King. This might be tricky!

RESULT: Older subject DID figure out the answer to the chess puzzle (hint: it doesn't involve fleeing or interposing between the king and the attacking piece) and gave a spirited performance in a loss in the game. But fun was had by all, which in itself is the most important result.