Based on how quickly and completely you guys nerded up this post, I feel pretty safe coming to you with my current conundrum. I was taught chess in what I'm guessing is much the same way you were taught chess: first you learned where all the pieces lined up, then you probably learned how many spaces they could move and in which directions, then maybe you learned openings, etc... My point is that endgame strategy was probably one of the last things you were taught or gave any thought to, and yet it's the most important aspect of the game. I'm getting somewhere with this, I promise.
James Altucher talks about this a lot because he's a big time chess player. I think he may have even hustled the lightning games for a while. Anyway, I've read where he's said more than once that the guys who absolutely master the game have thousands of entire games from start to finish memorized in their heads. So they're not thinking a couple moves ahead of you; they already know how the game is going to end from pretty much your opening move. This seems like a ridiculous waste of head space to me, but to each his own. However...
This weekend I finally delved into the weeds of The 4-Hour Chef. My wife bought me a new Kindle Fire HD for Father's Day and it's much more enjoyable to read it on that than to lug around a 20-lb book. Anyway, at one point in the book Ferriss describes the way one chessmaster teaches new students, and a light went off over my head when I read it.
Rather than teaching a kid how to set up a chessboard, how everything moves, what goes where, all the rules, and then hoping he or she has remained engaged enough through the drudgery to actually develop a passion for the game, this chessmaster puts three pieces on the board: the two Kings and one Pawn. The student then plays the side with the Pawn and the only goal is checkmate.
This teaches the student endgame first, before learning all the mechanics of the game. When the student can reliably checkmate the teacher's King, another piece is introduced. It's kinda revolutionary when you think about it.
Now the reason I'm bringing all this up is because I taught my oldest boy the game when he was about to turn eight. Luckily, he was interested enough to stick with it and he even joined the chess club at school this year where he managed to get a lot better. But I taught him the way I was taught and the way most people are taught, and his success has been slow going.
Now it's time to teach my youngest son the game. His focus and attention span is not what his brother's was at that age, so I know I need to keep things moving quickly if I want to keep him engaged. But reading this has me wondering if this might not actually make him a better player from the jump (which would be a real bummer for his older brother, lol).
I know we must have some chess fanatics on WSO. What do you guys think? Is this a better method for teaching chess, or will you somehow lack a foundation in the rules if you learn this way? It seems like a really clever hack to me. In just about every other aspect of my life I begin with the end in mind, so I can't imagine this should be any different.
Let me know what you think.