My daughter has been begging for my husband and me to teach her chess for almost 2 year now. Since I don’t play and we didn’t have a chess set we have continually postponed teaching her. At the homeschool convention in 2012, she stopped at a booth with chess products and spent a great deal of time. We told ourselves that we needed to teach her since she obviously had some interest. But, alas, we again postponed this. So when given the opportunity to try out Chess House and review their Starter Chess Learning Kit, we decided this was the perfect time to get her started learning check – finally.
Chess House prides itself in providing a family-friendly business to meet all your chess needs. Chess House provides chess sets and resources for every playing level. Whether you are just learning, like us, or really into the game, there is something for everyone from DVDs teaching strategy to over-sized chess sets and kids products.
We received the Starter Chess Learning Kit which included a black, soft-side bag that is well-organized to carry the vinyl front, a fabric back chess board which rolls up nicely and secures in the bag, and a full set of plastic chess pieces. The bag has separate compartments for the black pieces and the white pieces on each side with a middle section to store the DVD. The DVD that was included in our review set was Elliot’s Chess School Pawn Level: Level 1 which is for beginning chess players – that’s definitely us!
The day the chess set arrived I showed my daughter and she was very excited and wanted to get start right away. We got it out and started the DVD. The DVD’s feature National Master Elliot Neff who has studied and developed his chess coaching for almost 20 years. Mr. Neff’s passion for chess and patience for coaching chess are evident in the video.
Elliot’s Chess School Pawn Level DVD is broken down into topics including Intro to Chess, which is where you learn the basic names of the pieces and how to set up your board, and topics on each of the chess pieces from pawns to kings. There are even two beginning strategy sections on Pawn Shields and Castling. The Development section is also interesting – in this section the student learns about how to develop his or her talents and strategy to further their game.
The whole family watched the videos and learned something about chess. Even my 4 year old son was learning the chess piece names, point values, and movement – though he really just wanted to jump the knights all over the board. Nevertheless, it didn’t take long before our 8 year old was deep into a game with her dad. Though she was becoming frustrated a little with having to remember all the rules, and not winning the game right out of the box, she was loving it and thought that it was a pretty fun game.
The accompanying booklet that come with the Starter Chess Learning Kit gives beginning games for each of the pieces to work on learning their point value and movement. I loved that we could play something right away after learning how the pawns moved. I thought this was an excellent way to embed in the children’s heads how each piece moves and give them an opportunity to become comfortable with each piece and their movement on the board.
The DVD was very well organized, with a list of each topic easy to choose. The sections were not dull or difficult to listen to. Mr. Neff’s voice is easy to listen to and he seems to have a very calm nature as he explains the game, the pieces, and the strategy. I thought it was great that some basic strategy was introduced in the beginning level DVD to give the student a chance to begin developing some strategy and critical thinking in playing the game.
Overall I think that Starter Chess Learning Kit is a great starter chess set for any family and is great for every age to learn to play chess. The vinyl, roll out board is over-sized and very easy to work with, the pieces, though plastic, are good quality, and the carrying case is extremely convenient (though it does favor the looks of a portable pool cue, which is what my husband thought was laying on the coffee table when he came home the first day and was a little confused why I would purchase a pool cue – since we don’t have a pool table!) The DVD is a great way to learn the game and the segments are not too time consuming so it is easy to watch a section when you have some time and then use that information to develop your personal chess understanding and strategy.
Chess House also offers many other DVD levels to help build a student’s chess game. Maybe we will be moving to the next level in the future and continuing our understanding and growth with this time-honored game.