How to castle queenside for Beginners

How to castle queenside “PBJ"? group writing exercise, as more time on castling rules (especially queenside castling) is needed.

Explanation: When my daughter was in fourth grade, students wrote essays about “How to make a PBJ"? sandwich. It was important not to leave out a step, like “use a knife"? or the teacher acting out the essay would spread the PB with hands instead. Students contributed sentences which I wrote on the board. When they were done, I played out the essay steps and we found that the king ended up the b-file. It should have ended up on the c-file. This gave me a chance to correct the misunderstanding. Then students notated a game until each side castled queenside successfully. This lesson was an adaptation of the “How to Castle"? activity from Chapter 4 of my Science, Math, Checkmate: 32 Chess Activities for Inquiry and Problem Solving.

Petroff Defense for Intermediates

Taught the first moves of the Petroff Defense (Russian Defense) from page 40 of Yasser Seirawan’s Winning Chess Openings (Seattle, WA: Microsoft Press). The plan is also part of my “Openings around the World"? from Chapter 4 of my Science, Math, Checkmate: 32 Chess Activities for Inquiry and Problem Solving. Students copied the moves into their scorebooks. Then they memorized those moves and were tested on their memories. When they passed, they continued by notating the game (from move 9 onwards) that began with the Petroff Defense.

K and P vs. K draw and Philidor’s Rook Endgame for Advanced Players

Showed the K and P vs. K drawing dance (start position White: Ke4, Pe5; Black Ke6). In an earlier lesson, found in my book Children and Chess: A Guide for Educators (, March 2006), I showed WK on e4, WP on e5, BK on e6 drawn position as a "dance." Volunteers performed the dance while I showed it on the demonstration board. Some lines of the Philidor’s rook ending can transpose into the K and P vs. K dance draw.

Students practiced with partners while Cate (the highest rated student in the class) showed me one-on-one how she planned to teach the Philidor’s rook endgame (White: Pe4, Kf5, Rh7; Black: Rb6, Ke8). Then Cate taught that endgame to her fellow students.

Then she taught the ending to her fellow students, based on the analysis from p. 287 of Reuben Fine’s Basic Chess Endings. Fine gives the continuation as 1. e5 Ra6. 2. e6 Ra1 (2….Rb6 would be a bad blunder. 3. Kf6 Kd8 4. Rh8+ Kc7. 5. Kf7 and wins). 3. Kf6 Rf1+ 4. Ke5 Re1+ 5. Kd6 Rd1+ etc. There are three traps that the defender (Black) must avoid: immobilizing his R, unnecessarily allowing his K to be driven away from White’s queening square, and going to the wrong square with his K when he must leave. The drawing idea of the Philidor’s endgame is not to allow the White K to reach the sixth rank unmolested. Black’s R must stay mobile to be able to check the White K.

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