Dr. Alexey Root taught at the Greenhill School Chess Camp July 14-18 and July 21-25, 12:30-3:30 p.m. each day. The first week she had 12 students and the second week 10 students. Two other coaches had other groups: One had a less advanced group and the other a more advanced group. In Dr. Root's group, most students (ages 5-8; entering grades 1-4 this fall) started the week knowing the names of the chessmen and how some of them moved but not knowing en passant, promotion, or castling.
She taught (and tested on) the two-rook checkmate and the king and queen versus king checkmate. (A couple students each week passed those tests and were working on king and rook versus king by week’s end). After discussing that these basic checkmates are like sports drills, students practiced for their tests (how many moves to checkmate from a start position where the defending king was in the center) even during free-play chess time. Students also loved the chess “Simon Says” game introduced during a restroom break time on day one. They would play it in the hallway outside the restrooms (with one of them being Simon) on every subsequent day’s restroom break. To teach castling and en passant, Dr. Root used the “Game Theory” and “Create” challenges from her latest book Thinking with Chess: Teaching Children Ages 5-14.
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