Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review: Chess House

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Terrific T has always liked chess and plays with Princess P and Captain C sometimes for fun. I wasn't sure if he actually knew how to play though, and  know it has been a LONG time since I knew all the rules so I was thrilled to be chosen to review the Starter Chess Learning Kit from Chess House. After watching the included, awesome DVD, Elliott's Chess School #1 PAWN Level DVD with the kids, I realized that none of us knew all the rules to chess and we have had a great time learning how to play together.

 We received everything pictured (full chess set with vinyl mat, DVD, and storage bag in black or green.), here, as well as a sweet chocolate surprise (you had me at chocolate!). I was concerned that the chessboard was rolled up in the bag, but it unrolled completely flat each and every time we played. There are zippered pockets in the bag to keep the colors separated, and a place to store the mat, DVD, and paper or anything else you wanted to include. The bag is a nice quality bag and it all seems like it will last for a long, long time.

We all watched the DVD together. There is a short lesson on each chess piece (maybe 5 minutes each - they were quick!), then a few strategy sections at the end. The sections are:
  • Intro to Chess (board, names of pieces, values)
  • Pawns
  • Rooks
  • Bishops
  • The Queen
  • The King
  • Knight
  • Castling
  • Pawn shields and when to break it
  • Development
We learned a lot. Such as...I had no idea that if a pawn makes it all the way to the other side, it becomes a second queen. WHAT?!?! This gave us a reason to move and be aggressive instead of hanging back and hiding out. The  lessons were quick and to the point, showing examples of each item talked about. The videos are made by Chess4Life and feature their founder, National Master Elliott Neff. He has been coaching chess for 18 years and knows his stuff. However, he doesn't talk like someone who is better than you or arrogant. He was kind and excited about teaching in the videos and that made them enjoyable for us to watch.


 I'm really impressed with the thought process that goes into chess. You have to constantly be thinking one (or more) steps ahead and paying attention. It isn't an "instant gratification" game like electronic games. Perseverance is important too. In one game, I was beating Captain C pretty easily and he wanted to quit. Why bother playing if you aren't going to win, right? Wrong! I made him keep playing and he came back to beat me fair and square (I don't throw games...except to toddlers). He was so pumped that he didn't quit after all! T was just playing where ever he wanted to play and ignoring the strategy suggestions in the DVD (and accompanying handout). When I was pretty much kicking his hiney, he asked, "Are you using the strategies he said?" Ummm...of course I am! That was his wake up call. He started using the pawn shield and other ideas presented. It was fun!

And I really like that it is a hands on game, and not an electronic game. Having to set the pieces in the right places by themselves, and sit patiently while your opponent plays are good skills in themselves. Games can take quite a while to play sometimes and I think just sitting quietly together made for great bonding memories.

All 5 of us have played and enjoyed chess during this review. Again, who knew? Even Princess P can play, although we do have to coach her a little to keep her from making fatal moves. But she is learning. We have been using Chess as a bribe to get school done quickly. Little do they know, that they are learning while they "play" too!

I highly recommend this set to anyone wanting to learn the game. It is recommended for ages 6-12, but is appropriate for all ages, in my opinion. It is normally $49.95 but currently on sale for $39.95. It contains everything you need to start playing today. The quality of the product is great and the video is spectacular. I'm looking into getting the second DVD for us so we can learn even more!

Check out what others had to say about this product by clicking here:


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