On February 9 I had 12 students (9 boys and 3 girls) in the after-school chess club at Strickland Middle School. For the first time, we didn't get our classroom. Rather, we were in the cafeteria with other after-school groups. On the plus side, this attracted four students who had either never come to chess before or who had come only once or twice before. Also, we had more room to move around. On the minus side, some of the tables weren't the best shape for chess boards and it was noisier.

Objectives: Students will recreate chess games using notation that they wrote. Students will discuss alternate moves that could have been played. In cooperative groups, students will define and solve problems with pins.

Materials needed: I brought along our chess sets, boards, pencils, paper, a 10-question pin worksheet, and my demonstration board.

Procedure: Start class at 3:45 p.m. The four students who completed their ladder game last time (William, Kyler, Christina, and Katy) go over William and Kyler's written notation and analyze the game. At the same time, Andrew and Darrian replayed the moves they'd played last week (Andrew had taken notation) then continued the game. Cayman and Taireek were also supposed to recreate their ongoing ladder game but Cayman was absent.


Dance like a chessman (outdoors) and then chess art (indoors, with manila paper and crayons) because it was too cold to stay outside long. All but two children played chess games for fun rather than draw chess art.

Lecture: I explain what pins are, both relative and absolute pins. I gave very simple examples on the demonstration board, such as a white bishop on g5, black knight on f6, and black queen on d8 to show a relative pin. Then added on a pawn on e4 (which could move to e5) to show how to add pressure to a pin.

Practice: White to move and pin in one move problems solved by groups of 3. In each group, one person calls out the notation, one person sets up white, one person sets up black. Then all students need to think about the problem without calling out the answer. Then they discuss and one person writes the answer in notation. First group to finish 10 problems (while other groups were still on problem 7) got all the answers right and won the contest. It was time to pack up then. All groups worked very productively. I made sure one experienced player was in each group. The problems were from Pandolfini's Beginning Chess: Over 300 Elementary Problems for Players New to the Game (1993).