Customer Reviews: Chess Teacher (styles may vary)
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on May 24, 2001
Chess is one of those very rare games that takes minutes to learn, but a lifetime to master. It's never played the same way twice, even among grandmasters and close friends. It requires (and encourages!!) the ability to think ahead and plan carefully, and is enjoyed by people as young as 5 and as old as 125. It's a complicated game where you have to mange and plan the moves of your own 16 pieces while keeping a sharp lookout on your opponent's 16 pieces.
Learning the moves is usually the first difficult step that beginners take. All the different pieces move in different ways and have different rules to their movement, so this set has pieces with large bases with the most pertinent information stamped on it. The piece's name, how many spaces it can move at one time and the directions of movement are stamped on the base. As another reviewer noted, the numbers do NOT correspond to a piece's inherent point value in the game, so a player will have to think before setting up for a capture: is it worth risking a rook for a knight?? Maybe not.
Strategies like this are also missing from the instruction booklet that is amazingly thin and poorly written for what is supposed to be an educator chess set. I would recommend getting another book on introductory chess altogether if there are two beginners coming to the board. I've found this board to be the MOST helpful when an experienced player is teaching a beginner the rules and movements of the pieces. That way, the experienced player can point out difficulties or poor moves ("uh, you don't want to move there because you'll open yourself up to check"), while the beginner can get a better feel for the pieces and their movements.
A strategy that is rarely (if ever!) suggested outside of children's chess clubs and that is also missing here in the instruction book is to begin slowly. When I teach chess, especially with children, I begin with only a few pieces on the board, like rooks and bishops and the king, so the learner can get an idea how the pieces move and to better understand the GOAL of the game, which is checkmate (checkmate confuses a lot of children who think the goal of the game is to CAPTURE the king, not make it impossible for the king to make a legal move). As the learner gets better, I substitute or add additional pieces to the game until eventually we have the standard board setup. It's at this stage, especially, that an educator set is helpful--LOTS of stuff is on that board and it's pretty cluttered by midgame. By knowing how your OWN pieces move (and how far they can move), you can understand how your opponent's pieces move.
I had a set like this when I was a child and the pieces were much more stylized back then-the knight didn't look so much like a horse as a weird, squished mask-like thing. I'm pleased to see that the manufacturer has revamped the design of the pieces themselves, and would encourage them to revamp their instructions as well.
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on December 27, 2006
My 5 year old son is learning to play chess, so this set seemed perfect for him. All pieces are marked on the bottom with their proper movement (not their value as stated in an earlier review). This will be useful for a period of time.

But I must mention that the pieces and board are very, very flimsy. For a game as enduring as chess, the life of this set will be fleeting. The board can only hold up on a perfectly flat surface. The pieces feel very cheap because they are hollow. The queen chipped her base within the first couple of uses.

As soon as we can move on to a more substantial set, we will get rid of this one.
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on January 4, 2001
My 6 yr old son really enjoys checkers, so I thought he would like this game too. He does, but after just playing a few times we have run into a couple of situations where I was unsure of the rules, and the rule booklet did not help at all (i.e. my son's move inadvertently left his king open and put it in check, the rules do not say what to do in this situation). I had to look to the internet for the answers. The diagrams for the possible moves are quite helpful for my son (I have very basic knowledge) and he really enjoys the game, so I would recommend it, but I wish the manufacturer would improve the rule booklet.
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on August 4, 2005
I like everything about this product. It gives the experienced player more patience with the less experienced. Although I do have to comment on the incorrect picture on the box! Follow the enclosed instructions and you'll do great!
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on August 4, 2000
In general, I would support Mr. Farr's product review.
I would add the following observations: First, the photograph of the set shows an illegal position. It is not very helpful for the beginner player to be misled in this way.
Second, Mr. Farr's review indicates that the pieces are labelled with their "value". Actually, it appears that they are marked with the number of squares that they may move. The piece value or strength would actually be much more valuable information for the beginner. It would be more helpful to know that you were about to make a bad trade of a Queen (Val:9) for a Rook (Val:5) instead of an apparently equal trade of a Queen (Moves:7) for a Rook (Moves:7).
Nonetheless, this set may be helpful for the player who insists that they cannot remember how the pieces move. But only for a short time.
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on June 25, 2014
I ordered this because my kindergartener enjoyed trying to play with some of the other kids during inside recess this winter.

-The pieces are large and lightweight so easy for little fingers to maneuver.
-The printed arrows made it pretty easy for the kids to remember which pieces can move where after you give them an little demonstration. Although the number of spaces allowed is not as easy to display and the pawns try to include both allowed movements on the front and use parentheses, which confused my little guy. Reading is not really necessary for them to understand the directions and # of spaces.
- The included printed directions are pretty good. They cover the the basics for each piece, the order of play, the objective, and "castling" in an 8-page foldout sheet. They have good diagrams for each of the chessmen, including the move-reminders printed on the piece, to show where each piece may move. It shows the individual piece on a chessboard and then marks little x's on all the squares that would be an option for that piece in a single move. The Knight is diagramed to show he can jump pieces and the Pawn is placed on board to show that it's first move may be either 1 or 2 forward. The brief paragraph below diagram helps expand the information.

-The board fold up into fourths, so it is about a 7" square. However, this makes it harder to get to lay flat when opened to play and a little tricky for my son to figure out which way the flaps need to go to fold for storage.

- The pieces are very lightweight plastic so that they feel a little cheap and not super durable.
- The chessmen in the used and battered set at his school came with felt pads on the bottom, but the open-ended pieces in this set are uncovered (even though there is a groove that looks like it is meant to hold a bottom plate) and the edges are a bit sharp so I worry about them scratching my table. I definitely won't be letting him use them on our friend's fancy hardwood chessboard.
- The chessboard is fairly low-grade game board cardboard with a faux-wood sticker for the top.
- The box is probably not going to last us very long. It is very thin cardboard (like a store-brand kids' shoebox) and it opens from the side instead of a top-loading lid or flip-top box. It is hard to get everything back in the box easily and the sides bulge out so it doesn't stack well even though the dimensions make it more shelf-friendly than a traditional box with lid for a fold-in-half chessboard are.

Conclusion: While not perfect, we're keeping the game. We may replace it someday, but probably I'll just consider this our cheap "training wheels" set and graduate to regular chessmen instead. I like the concept a lot and am glad I ordered a set like this. And it is probably worth the <$15 price I paid. However, I wish I had known that the pieces wouldn't have padded bases and that the box would be so cheap. I would recommend the idea of this product but think it would be worth it to pay a little extra for chessmen that won't scratch and maybe a nicer box and board. Seeing the product in person would have helped, but 1) I don't live in a town big enough to carry a somewhat specialty item and 2) I wouldn't have gotten the rock bottom internet price!
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on October 28, 2012
I previously bought a really pretty glass & etched glass set, however when it arrived it was too small and reonizing what should've been the black and white spaces a bit confusing, so I returned it. This product has a large board and larger pieces that indicate which direction they can move. I basically happy with the product however I wish the set included directions on how to play. Overall a nice set for beginners of all ages.
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on March 27, 2014
Poor quality, the broad folds into a quarter of the size with a cut along one radius. The chess piece are thin hollow plastic. But you get what you pay for. The teacher part is a joke. I bought this and "no stress chess". We enjoy the latter much more.
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on February 21, 2016
I bought this for my son-in-law, who is quite the chess player, and his son, who is 5. The Dad says this game is very helpful, even though the son doesn't quite get the idea, which is totally understandable. It does make the game more fun for them, and Dad says that once his son can grasp the concept that, say "2-7" means 2,3,4,5,6 or 7 and not 2 or 7, things will be coming along nicely. I highly recommend this!
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on December 27, 2012
I was pretty surprised to find that I was missing a piece considering the package was sealed. I contacted the manufacturer but have not heard anything back yet. My daughter really wanted to learn to play chess & I'm hoping they respond soon so she can start learning. Other than that, I like that the "directions" are printed right on the pieces. Helps a lot since my daughter can't read yet.

Feb 22, 2013 - As of this writing, the company has STILL not responded to my frequent requests to replace the missing piece. This was a total waste of money because having arrived defective, my daughter has not had an opportunity to learn the game at all. I am VERY disappointed in the manufacturer for not standing by it's product.
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