15 November 2015

Chess Curriculum - ChessCafe/ChessEDU

Continuing with Chess Curriculum Inventory, after Chess Curriculum - FIDE II, we come to the last title identified in the preliminary survey, described in Chess Curriculum No.6 (June 2015). The title page says, 'ChessEdu.org, White Belt Chess Curriculum, by Mark C. Donlan', introducing the 'ChessEdu.org Belt System' as a series of colored belts: white, blue, purple, brown, black, and red. The belts are defined at the beginning of the document, e.g.

White Belt • The white belt signifies the beginning of the students journey to chess mastery. The student will learn the basics of chess along with the following material:
1) knows the number of squares on the chessboard.
2) knows the number of light squares.
3) knows the number of dark squares.
4) knows to place the board so that there is a light square on the right.
5) knows the definition of ranks.
48) knows which direction the pieces move in a diagram.
49) knows how to name each square in algebraic notation.
Blue Belt • A blue belt signifies that the student knows the basic rules and is ready to progress from beginner to novice level. At this level the student will learn the following material:
1) abides by the touch-move rule.
2) knows what a "fork" is.
3) knows what a "pin" is.
4) knows what a "skewer" is.

And so on. I start to stumble on the requirements for the brown belt -- 'Alekhine's Gun', 'Anastasia's mate', etc. -- although my rating should qualify me for the black belt. The red belt is reserved for players with the FIDE titles GM & IM. The white belt curriculum covers the Chessboard and the Chessmen, developed with a series of puzzles like the following from page 28.

Early credit is given to a trio of heavyweights in chess education.

The ChessEdu.org belt system is based on the adult Brazilian Jiujitsu belt system with inspiration from Pandolfini's Diagnostic Chess Checklist, ChessCafe.com January 2014, and input from NM Dan Heisman, NM Bruce Pandolfini, and GM Karsten Mueller.

In case there is any doubt, the system is for classroom use.

Introduction • The ChessEdu.org curriculum is designed to use chess as a tool for teaching problem-solving, creative thinking, and abstract reasoning in a classroom setting, be it in a public or private school, home school or other institution, or for personal use.

While the entire document appears to hold together very well, I have some doubts about the concept. First, a 200 page document that introduces only the board and pieces risks serious overkill. I can understand a belt system for a martial art where beginners might easily hurt themselves, but we're talking about a board game here.

Second, before embarking on the white belt program I would like some assurance that material for the subsequent belts -- at least the next two -- is available. I could find no mention of these on the Chessedu.org site. That site is anchored to Chesscafe.com, which 'has fallen on hard times' according to a post titled Chesscafe.com 2015 that I wrote earlier this year. How much of an 'ongoing concern' are we dealing with here?

No comments: