Thursday, June 23, 2011

Growing Chess at the Farmer's Market

Chess at the Hailey Farmer's Market
I set up a chess booth at the Farmer's Market today in Hailey to teach and play patrons of the agricultural arts.  It was a huge success with the children waiting for their moms to finish shopping engaging in intense, humorous, and interesting chess.  Amidst the pies, plants, early radishes, and turned wooden dog bowls, giant chess was played by several youngsters and I had a table set for standard chess play. I also was able to play long-time friend, Erwin Kett.  Erwin is a supporter of the WRHS Chess Club and gladly showed up for two long games of chess.  He was unhappy to leave for an appointment after 2 1/2 hours of play and desired just one more game to try and beat me.
Some Chessnuts plotting their next move!

While playing Erwin, I offered help to the kids and clarified rules when necessary.  I was happy to show one boy how to mate quickly (mate in 2) with a queen and a rook using the "ladder" technique.  I call it "drawing a line in the sand."  Interestingly, when I let him perform the maneuver on his mom, he used four extra moves (he really wanted to own the checkmate!).  In fact, it was nice to see how many moms played a game with their boys.  I witnessed interesting pawn structures and beautifully symmetric openings (ah, the dreaded a4 and h4 opening that begins some sort of a rook assault).

Humans love symmetry, but never open like this. . . bishops will gobble up your rooks and you lose the exchange by two points, and your pawn structure gets screwed up!
Chess is great for family engagement

Here is another symmetrical game I saw . . . it definitely looks like some thing is happening  . . .but not really!  It might be something out of Stratego, but not chess.  Don't do this.

Two little guys refused any help until I just couldn't take anymore checkers-jumping and interfered by showing them how the pieces move.  Adults were somewhat stand offish and watched from a distance, but you could see by their faces they longed to play. Maybe they will start playing?  As I plan to have a chess booth every Thursday at the Farmer's Market in Hailey.  Next week, I hope to have a sun shade and also to up the booth presentation by having a checkered table cloth.  Also, a sign that said "Free Chess, Help Yourself" because I was asked by several people "How much?"  Farmer's Markets are great places to visibly engage people in chess.
Chess Mom and son

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