Parents frequently ask, “What should I do with (insert child’s name) to get him/her ready for the Susan Polgar Foundation’s National Open for Girls and Boys?” Since this question often comes from a rookie chess parent, I like to suggest for the parent inquiring to prepare for the event with their child. One of my time tested methods of doing this is for the parent and child to sit down with the book Chess 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games by Laszlo Polgar.
The most important skill to master in chess is checkmating. Starting a chess game without the ability to recognize mating patterns is equivalent to starting a marathon without knowing where the finish line is. Lucky for us chess enthusiasts, becoming skilled at spotting and utilizing mating combinations is relatively simple. All one has to do to develop checkmating skills in their child is to spend half-an-hour a day working together to solve checkmating exercises as quickly as possible. Chess 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games makes this task easy as it takes the reader through some simple mate-in-one concepts and builds him/her into a player that becomes efficient at spotting mate-in-three combinations.
For chess parents with young children, I recommend sitting down with your child at the kitchen table and having the child draw arrows on the diagram to demonstrate the correct solution. If your child gets stuck on a problem for more than 2 minutes per move required, circle the problem number and then show him/her the solution. At the end of the each session, return to the circled problems and see if your child can now solve the exercise. Be sure to reward your child by placing a sticker on a chart every time they study for half an hour. If you choose, you can also reward the accumulation of ten stickers with a small treat or prize of some sort. Most importantly, have fun and remain enthusiastic while working with your child in order to foster a love for studying chess.
Stay Tuned for more tips on how to prepare your child for the Susan Polgar Foundation’s Nationwide Open for Girls and Boys.