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School Spotlight: Sharon Elementary

Young Master Chess holds chess clubs and chess instruction at elementary schools all over the area. This week's school spotlight is on Sharon Elementary School in Charlotte!

Sharon Elementary School students have an afterschool club on Friday afternoons. On this particular Friday, club started out with a quick check of the Fast Chess leaderboard on ChessKid.com and a few rewards for club members who had played the most games online recently.

Everyone (in all YMC chess clubs!) has the ability to play a live game anytime they want to on their ChessKid accounts. That means a student doesn't have to pester mom, dad, a brother or sister for a game outside of club - it's as easy as logging in & clicking the button that says "Play Fast."

The group then split into two sections: returning students sat at the media center tables & the beginning group headed just around the corner together upstairs in another part of the library.

Coach Chris Callahan took out his teaching board and began the group lesson for the beginning section with a warning: it's going to be "difficult!" The lesson was introducing the special chess rule "en passant:" a French word meaning "in passing," and a move on the board that doesn't happen very often. Some of the beginners had already heard of this concept, but now the entire group got to learn and practice. This is a rule that was introduced recently to the game (only about 500 years ago or so...)

The group watched on the board how 2 pawns now had the ability to make up for a lost move: when one pawn goes 2 squares on it's first move, and there's another pawn next to it, the other pawn has the option to take it - and make up for a lost capture. Remember! The capture has to be made by a pawn, one pawn has to be on a move that goes 2 squares, and the capture has to take place on the very next move. (Mom, Dad, ask your young chess players to explain it to you!) Coach C reversed the roles - the kids became teachers & he became the student. He made a series of pawn moves to illustrate the new rule, and the students had to explain why each move was right or wrong.

Next up came this week's optional tournament ladder! All students have the opportunity to play over-the-board chess during chess club. Additionally each week, chess club members have the option to participate in the chess ladder. Coach C paired up players for games based on last week's results, and each win moves kids up another spot along the ladder throughout the year.

Over at the media center tables, National Master Chris Mabe had the smart board on and first showed a ChessKid video "Playing Tournament Chess" about playing strategy, thinking like your opponent, taking your time & examples from some famous games. This was in anticipation of what was to come next...this week's club tournament games! The chess sets came out & Coach Mabe paired the group based on last week's results.

He also let me in on a little secret chess players: next week, game notation begins! Notation is a great way to get in the good habit of taking time to think about your next move before making it on the board - and it's a great preparation to tournament play!
Keep up the great chess playing Sharon Elementary, see you in chess club -