Friday, October 11, 2013

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Chess House

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When Rodney and I started dating, eons ago, we naturally compared favorite games and such. One of Rodney's favorite games was/is chess. I'd never played chess in my life and, while I TRIED to learn, it was . . . not my thing! After a few attempts, we agreed to stick to other games that we both liked.

Fast forward several years and we were married and had 2 preschoolers. Rodney taught both of them to play checkers. Lexie liked it, and got pretty good at it, so a few years ago, he started trying to teach her chess, but alas, she didn't have the patience for it either, or perhaps he didn't have the patience to teach a young child, or some of both.

So, when Chess House asked the Schoolhouse Review Crew to review their Starter Chess Learning Kit, I knew it wasn't MY thing, but might be a good daddy/daughter review item. I asked Rodney and the girls about it, and they all liked the idea, so we signed up for the review.

The Starter Chess Learning Kit ($39.95) consists of a large, roll-up chess board, large plastic chess pieces, including an extra queen for each color, Elliott's Chess School DVD 1 "Pawn Level", and a canvas bag to keep it all together.

As soon as the package arrived, Daddy and daughters sat down and watched the DVD together. Rodney said even he learned some stuff from it.

Then the 2  girls sat down to play each other with Daddy "coaching".  The game took a LONG time . . . leading to a late bedtime, sigh . . .but I think that's a good sign . . . they'd learned enough to at least keep each other playing for awhile, and proved they were pretty evenly matched LOL. And further proof that they'd learned enough to have it be a "good" game, see that glow in the back of the picture? That's Daddy's laptop, sitting on the floor while he watches them play, gotta love that!

The only thing they didn't like was competing against each other. I pointed out that they could play against each other, focusing not on "beating" each other, but on both of them improving their games so they'd be able to beat daddy. They liked that idea, and so, when nobody else was around to play, they played each other.

We hadn't had it long when we left for Williamsburg, and here's the beauty of this PORTABLE set. It was no problem at all to toss the case in the car with the other luggage and bring it along. The thought was that once Daddy got to Williamsburg (mid-week), they could take turns playing him in the evenings, but they didn't want to wait for him, or play each other, so they convinced Papa (my dad) to play with them the first part of the week. It occurs to me that I never heard who won those games, but I loved the "scene" it created to have them sitting there in their colonial costumes, playing chess :)

We weren't home long, after Williamsburg before we left again, this time for Erie, PA and surrounding area. Again, we were able to toss the chess game in with the rest of the luggage and bring it along. One day Lexie wanted to play but Ashlyn didn't (and Rodney was working), so Lexie started teaching Little Bit (4) to play. They didn't finish the game, but that evening Little Bit convinced Daddy to play with HER! When I peaked at them to take the picture she was telling me how the various pieces move, so apparently she was "getting it", at least on some level, proving the Chess House is correct in saying that this is for "All Ages". No doubt between big sisters and Daddy, she'll get it figured out before too long.

So, our chess set is already quite well-traveled, and has been well used. Other then almost losing a piece at the hotel (one of the girls found it under the edge of the bed during their all-important final floor check (seriously, if you travel with kids, NEVER leave a hotel without that final floor check!), it's handled all our travel wonderfully.

If you or your children are interested in learning chess, this seems like a great set. The video kept the girls' attention, and seemed to teach them enough to be able to play after watching it through once, and Rodney, who's played since he was a kid, learned a few things too.  The large board is nice.  I wondered how well it would work since it's vinyl, and rolled up. So often when something's rolled up, when you unroll it, it doesn't lay flat, but this is a heavy enough vinyl that it laid flat without any problem. As you can see in the last picture, the thick vinyl, combined with the well balanced pieces, even worked fine on the bed.

To see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought, click the banner below:


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All prices are accurate at time of posting.

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