Newsletter #2 - October 31, 2016

posted Oct 31, 2016, 9:08 PM by James Hodina   [ updated Oct 31, 2016, 9:10 PM ]

​Dear Prairie Chess Families,


As the stream of trick-or-treaters slows down tonight, I have a moment to catch you up on our chess instruction for the last two weeks.


Two topics are covered in today’s lesson

  • Chess Lesson Review

  • Fun Chess Meet-Up with Coralville Central & Northwest Junior High School Chess Clubs

Chess Lesson Review

This Monday and last, I have been teaching our students how to start a game of chess.  This chess term is the “opening.”  


The content of these lessons is available online at my favorite chess website: Chess.Com.

You may review the content of our lesson by following the Chess.Com introductory lesson for beginning and intermediate players, “Essentials Opening Play.”  At the time of this posting, it was freely accessible to players with a free Chess.Com account and our 6th graders and older may already have an account.


For our beginning players, we introduced the concept of piece development, the importance of the center of the chessboard, and king safety with these three “Golden Rules” of the chess opening:

  1. Don’t move the same piece twice

  2. Move to the center of the board

  3. Castle as soon as you can


I then showed these student how quickly someone can be checkmated if they ignore these rules including the two move “Fool’s Mate” and the four move “Scholar’s Mate.”  More importantly, I showed them how to prevent these fast checkmates and to make such attempts by the opponent backfire.  Today, with the beginning players, we reviewed the “Scholar’s Mate” lesson and then discussed some examples of good ways and poor ways to open the game.  You may view a nice video on the Scholar’s Mate posted by the St. Louis Chess Club & Scholastic Chess Club on the Scholar’s Mate [Hint: Parent’s you might want to watch this as your kids may try it on you!]


Many of our senior players know these principles and so we stepped it up with some more “theoretical” opening concepts by introducing the concept of a “gambit.”  A gambit in the opening is where a player gives up a piece, often a pawn but sometimes more, to gain an opening advantage through rapid piece development and threats on the opponent’s king.  We first looked at the Danish Gambit.  Then, in the spirit of the holiday, we reviewed the Halloween Gambit!


Fun Chess Meet-Up with Coralville Central & Northwest Junior High School Chess Clubs

We have an exciting chess event scheduled for our club on Monday evening, November 14th.  This is an extra event and you will need to sign up to participate (provided below).  Following our regular chess club meeting on November 14th, we will take a CCSD school bus to Northwest Junior High (NWJH) School to play the NWJH Chess Club and the Coralville Chess Chess Club.  We will play some fun games against other students for about 2 hours and then depart for a return trip Creek at 7:30 pm.  Parents are welcome to join us.


Pizza slices will be offered for $1.50 a piece. You may bring a sack lunch or money for pizza.  Drinks will be provided.  Attached is a Flyer for the event.  This match is part of the Eastern Iowa Elementary Chess League sponsored by Chess in Iowa, Inc.  We will be playing three other matches this school year.  Our next match will be a December home event against St. John Elementary from Independence.


Please contact me with any questions.


Take care,

Jim Hodina



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