This week we started with a puzzle - the winning move is Nc6-d8# but the other pieces - a black king, white king & white queen - are not on the board! The challenge is to find the place for the other pieces, so that the move Nc6-d8 is in fact checkmate! It's not that simple & the group were still trying to figure it out when everyone arrived, so the answer to the puzzle will remain a mystery until next week (unless you figure it out first)!
This week's board, with the daily outline, as well as the starting position for looking at bishops v knights. We managed to get through everything on the list this week!
After looking at the Fischer game, the kids played their own games against one another, with some very hard-fought games, which all lasted over 40 moves!
The final session for the day looked at how to assess a position & the factors that should be considered. Following the examples of American IM Jeremy Silman, these are: Material, Development, Pieces, Pawn Structure, Space, Initiative & Control of key squares.
This was then used as a starting point to look in more detail at the classic battle of knights & bishops, with the advantages & disadvantages of these pieces being examined.
This theory was then put into practice by looking at a position (above) from the 1973 game between Hort & Ciocaltea, which featured an ending with two bishops against a bishop & knight. The kids were able to identify that the major advantages for white were in terms of space & pieces & were able to further restrict the black pieces, which in this position is a key to wining the game. Once the black pieces are restricted to the point where some are unable to move, the winning plan of attacking the a-pawn with the king & white-squared bishop is enough to ensure victory.
For myself, although the position itself is highly instructive, I find the game itself fascinating, particularly the transformation that the game takes between moves 24 & 31 to reach the game position - one wonders if black had his time over if he would have considered 31...Nf6, with the plan of Nf6-d7-c5, and whether that would have been enough to hold the game.
This week the homework continues on from the visualisation exercises covered in week 1 & looks at more examples of finding a safe path for a piece, as well as trapping pieces.
Once again I had a great time running the session & it has become the group I most look forward to teaching each week. The extra time of these sessions allows for greater depth of learning, as well as providing opportunities to learn about chess history & players, and allowing more time to get to know the kids quicker than a typical hour-long lesson would.
If anyone reading this is interested in attending the squad sessions, contact Pearl Yung at Northern Star Chess, or look at the Squad Page for more information.