The Art of Learning – Birth of a Chessmaster…

…okay, maybe not.

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Photo by Charlie Solorzano on Unsplash

When G1 was younger and interested in learning chess, I bought The Art of Learning: Chessmaster – Grandmaster Edition. Back then, the dream was to groom the next Magnus Carlsen and what better way to start than to let G1 get acquainted with International Chessmaster Josh Waitzkin who offers a one-on-one crash course in chess through Chessmaster?

Unfortunately, G1 never progressed beyond learning the rules of the game through Dinosaur Chess and asking for hints on how to win the game so Chessmaster went on the backburner and started collecting dust until I picked it up again recently. Since the boys aren’t interested, I decided to give my own brain a workout with a couple of games of chess.

Chessmaster – Grandmaster Edition

I’ve played previous editions of Chessmaster growing up but they seriously do not compare to the Grandmaster Edition which contains:

  • Extensive course on the basics of chess taught by International Chess Master Josh Waitzkin
  • Tutorials from Josh Waitzkin’s groundbreaking book The Art of Learning
  • Attacking Chess course commentary by Grandmaster Larry Christiansen
  • 900 of chess’s most important games presented and analyzed; single or multiplayer gameplay
  • 600,000+ game database; coverage of all classic and modern opening variations

I haven’t tried all the features, but I started on the tutorials with Josh Waitzkin. What I like about his lessons is that they teach strategies and ideas rather than tricks and sequences that aim to trap the unwary novice. Waitzkin’s lessons also come with problem exercises where you have to figure out the best move in a game that is already in play.

I was initially a little doubtful about whether it could make a difference to my chess game. The strategies and tactics always sound so logical when Waitzkin explains it but I often struggle to see them when he isn’t there to point them out. So I decided to put myself to the test and play a few rounds of chess with the computer.

It’s unfortunate that Chessmaster doesn’t have an app which means I can’t use the game features unless I’m at home. I tried applying my new knowledge by playing against the computer on Dinosaur Chess. After a while, Dinosaur Chess becomes predictable because it has a set number of moves that the program predictably follows. After looking around for a bit, I discovered this…

Chess Pro by Mastersoft

The app is available for free but if you find the ads annoying, you can pay for the full app which includes a few other extra features that you won’t get in the free version. The feature that won me over was the fact that this app is designed to play like a human opponent. Since the boys won’t play with me, I’ll play against a “human” computer. Chess Pro also comes with many different levels so you can work your way through the ranks from novice to “grandmaster level”.

My initial chess games were terribly awkward and mechanical. I often had to take back moves – yes, even in the easy levels – but I do feel like I’m making progress. If you don’t have time or you can’t get to a chess academy then this course from Chessmaster works well enough as a home program. You can also try these online sites for learning chess:

More places to learn chess

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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