Sunday, March 2, 2008

Teaching mate with King and Rook

At the beginning of the year, I did a small lesson on the King and Rook vs King mate. Although the kids seemed to get it at the time, it was clear from later games that the material just hadn't stuck.

When I got to the same point with the current group of my Intermediates, I decided to run the lesson a little differently. I first ran through the same concepts:

  • remind everyone how checkmate with two rooks is like using a force-field and a spear
  • show how your king creates a mini-force-field
  • run through the simplistic process that is exactly analogous to the two rook mating pattern rather than the more efficient (but more complex) box pattern
After a couple of run-throughs of example mates, we switched back to reviewing tactical patterns and then ended that week's period.

I started the very next session with a 5-minute reminder and then divided everyone up to play. The idea is that everyone starts from the same position, play to checkmate or stalemate and then record how many moves the game took. The goal is to checkmate in the fewest moves as white and make your opponent take the most moves as black.

This worked great! The kids played a bunch of these mini-games and most of them clearly were capable of both mating someone and how best to avoid being mated. I think the promise of 5 points to the person with the best record was definitely motivating!