Monday, November 8, 2010

The Pledge of Chess

At my school, the kids have to say the Pledge of Allegiance every day. They don't have to, actually, but mostly they do. I have decided to copy this indoctrinational form of instruction and have created the Pledge of Chess, which my students now have to say every day. It is composed of all the things I say over and over again every Saturday when I'm looking at their games. It goes like this:

The Pledge of Chess
I will consider every check and every capture on every move!
I will never trade a bishop for a knight without a good reason!
I will not stop developing until my rooks are active!
I will make a special effort to consider pawn moves that change the pawn structure (like pawn breaks!)!
I will not trade pieces just because I can (I will have a good reason!)!
In d4-d5 structures, I will not put the knight in front of my c pawn!
I will not play Ng5 if ...h6 just makes me go back!
I will write my move down before I play it!


Anonymous said...

So I'm assuming you don't want your kids to play the Veresov?

Soapstone said...

This will sound pedantic but USCF Rule 15A was changed in 2009 to better align with FIDE so that writing your move down before playing it could possibly be penalized as the use of notes.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

I thought they changed it back.

Erabin said...

Right. They said you are allowed to write it down first as long as you aren't playing with a Monroi.

Anonymous said...

I think most people don't really care.

I remember playing in a tournament in which the person I was playing complained to the TD half way through the game and I had to stop writing down prior to making the move. Next tournament went back to it anyway with no problem. ha ha! :P

This happend maybe a year ago and I was told it was ok at scholastic tournaments, but not in open ones.

Brian Lafferty said...

Not only no Veresov, but I have to assume no Chigorin Defense, no Bird's Opening or Nimzowich Defense either. Bad rule, IMO.

Anonymous said...

As I always used to tell my freelancers when I worked as a copy editor, you have to know the rules and accept the rules before you get to break the rules. Then you can say you're doing it for effect.

Liquid Egg Product said...

You left out "under God". Heathen.

Anonymous said...

re: Writing move befor moving:

The rule was NOT changed back; the "write first, then move" option is just allowed as a variation for paper scoresheets that doesn't need to be advertised in advance. ( pp6-7).

Personally, I strongly feel against allowing the variation. I can not stand people (mostly kids) who write down three or four moves before playing one. It's totally used as a form of note taking that way, and the practice needs to be stopped.

I hope you reconsider that last pledge, and teach the kids some other method of making a final "sdanity check" before executing a move. If they end up ion a tournament with a nasty TD like me, or a FIDE event, they're going to end up getting in trouble, and now it the time to teach them the correct way.

(Can you tell I feel srtrongly on this one? :) )


Elizabeth Vicary said...

Why do people hate children so much?

You might enjoy an earlier blog post on the topic, involving a controversial and completely undeserved win over GM Lein:

Anonymous said...

I don't hate children! (I have three of my own :) ).

My kids remark was parenthetical, and only an observation. There are plenty of adults that do the write a move, think, scratch it out, think, write a move, think some more, etc. etc. routine. My hope is by teaching the kids the proper method, that it will stop for everyone eventually.

I wouldn't ever penalize anyone with more than a warning, but it's probably disturbing/distracting to have to change your ways in the middle of a game, so it's best to learn it early.


gurdonark said...

I have no quibble with the pledge.
I remember once, playing black, getting one of those cool positions in the exchange variation of the QGD, in which one plants a knight at c4, "covering up" the backward c6 pawn after the b pawn had headed to b5 to block off a minority attack

It was just as odd as it looked in the books, but it was a way to get my knight on the other side of a c pawn without playing the Chigorin, the Veresov or the drunken knights tango reversed. I even survived the game, which is always a nice by product of a cool looking pattern.

Anonymous said...

As far as the note taking remark is concerned, I don't think it is as most players can remember their next move. : )

TechMaster CW Fast Forward said...

I find it fun to say the pledge it helps me in my game.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

thank you.

Anonymous said...

BTW, I like the rest of the pledge. Maybe you can have the kids come up with a mnemonic device to help remember it during a game (and, of course, share it here)? I know I could use one!


Mark Howitt said...

Writing a move down before you play it is certainly illegal under FIDE rules- it is a form of using notes. I had an opponent once who wrote down a losing move... then crossed it out and played another move. I complained but he got away with his cheating- (for those interesed in was Brett Lund I believe, playing for Dewsbury).

So if you want your childrent to be successful you should remove the last rule.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

great responses, thanks.

I think the big point is that asking a kid to write down the move before they make it is part of teaching them to double check themselves, which I think is a really key skill in life in general. It's important everywhere: school, work, relationships, in every kind of decision making. I talk to the kids a lot about this before they take their state tests, about how hard it is to double check yourself without making the same mistake you made the first time, and how sometimes you have to try to approach the problem differently, or ask yourself what mistakes are possible to make in different situations.

Chess offers a rare opportunity to teach double checking (no pun intended:)) directly-- if I can really get kids in the habit of thinking "what kind of thing might I have missed?" when they make an important decision, then it's worth it, regardless of the current state of FIDE/USCF rules.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the skill of doing a final double check before doing anything is important, but there are other ways to teach this.

Chess is a game played in the mind, so they can use some mind hack. Say, imagine writing the move down, double check it, then make the move, then actually write it down. I dunno...

I just think you should teach them the right skills without using rule-breaking methods. That doesn't send a very good message, especially for real life.

I know the rule is silly in many people's minds, but many others disagree, and have made it so. The time is now to teach respect for the rules as they are, and prevent them from getting in trouble; either on the chess board or off.

Just my rant, take it for what you will.