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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chess House. A TOS Crew Review...

So...a few weeks ago my Bug (6) spent the night with his Poppy for a special sleepover time.

They did all the normal grandson / Poppy things--cartoons, pancakes in the morning, chess...


Yep, you heard me right.  My 6 year-old son learned how to play chess.  And is now completely obsessed with it!

This obsession was timed beautifully, however--it came along about a minute before this great Starter Chess Learning Kit was available for review, from Chess House.

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Which was great--since none of the rest of us in the house knew how to play chess (and we weren't entirely sure that Bug wasn't just making up random rules to help himself win.  Not that that ever happens, lol!)

I immediately signed up to review this, and was thrilled to be chosen!

What Did We Receive?

It's called the Starter Chess Learning Kit, and that's just the perfect name for it.  The kit includes:  

--Elliot's Chess School Pawn Level 1 DVD.  This is about a 50-minute DVD broken down into several sections, with Elliot Neff, a National Master, simply and briefly going over the basics of the game.  Topics include:  Intro to Chess, Pawns, Rooks, Bishops, Queen, King, Knights, Castling, Pawn Shields, and Development.  After each topic, it is recommended that you spend time doing the practice exercises that are included in the booklet that comes with the DVD (there are anywhere from one to three practice exercises after each section).  

--A full chess set, with 32 solid plastic chess pieces (ivory and black)

--A vinyl chess board, that rolls up easily but still lies flat when you are ready to play

--A carrying bag (ours is black, but they also have green, navy, green camo, and tan camo) that holds the board, all pieces, and the DVD, and comes with a shoulder carrying strap, as well as carrying handles.

This kit is available for $39.95, and the set is recommended for ages 4+, but would be best suited for kiddos ages 6-12.

How Did We Use This?

Well, to be honest, we started right away with pulling out the board and pieces and trying Bug's version of "Chess School".  He loves the game so much he couldn't be bothered with waiting for us all to watch the video and learn the correct rules!

After he went to bed, the rest of us sat down to watch the video.  Because we were short on time that night, we watched it straight through without stopping to try the practice activities.  Even without the practice, we were all able to grasp the concepts of the game--even my ten year-old who has some learning problems.

After that introduction, and several days of practicing, I had the kiddos try some of the practice ideas.  Each one builds on the previous ones, and seems to reinforce the learning well.

What Did I Think?

I was very pleasantly surprised by this product!  I always thought that Chess was one of those "supremely intellectual" games that I would never be able to grasp.  And also that it was really boring.

Turns out, neither of those things are true.  Now don't get me wrong--I am hardly the Chess Champion of the world (and not actually of this house, either, as it turns out...), but I can tell that there is so much thinking and strategy involved in the game, and in becoming very skilled at it--but there is enough information in the DVD to make sure that everyone has a shot to be able to play.

And it was not boring--like, at all!  As a matter of fact, there are some pretty fierce competitors in this house who look for new "victims" pretty much from anyone who walks in the house!  We are becoming Chess junkies!

The DVD itself is just perfect--the lessons are very short, but full of the pertinent information.  Mr. Neff is extremely knowledgable (obviously), but can break the game down into simple instruction for beginners.  The set is well-made and sturdy, and fits nicely into the carrying bag.  

What Did My Kids Think?

"It was really fun and I was really good at it!  It entertained me for a while, and I enjoyed it a lot!  It was a lot easier to learn than I thought it would be."  (Turtle, age 13)

"I think it's really fun and I liked learning how to play it."  (Firefly, age 10)

"I LOVE it!  I'm glad my Poppy gave it to me.  Me and my two sisters are having a tournament.  In first, Turtle.  In second, me.  In third, Firefly.  It's so fun!  My favorite piece, which is the most powerful, of course it's my favorite, which is the Queen.  The point of the game is to get the King."  (Bug, age 6)  (Disclaimer--we let his Poppy give him this item once it came since he had promised to get him one anyway!)

If you've ever thought of trying Chess--maybe even if you haven't--take a look at Chess House.  And make sure to see what my Crewmates thought as well!


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