Monday, May 06, 2013

Core Lesson 21: Skewers

No school for anybody today. When they go back this right here is what the kids should be learning.


Children will start by completing worksheets in which they have to find skewers. At this point, now that the students have been playing for two terms, you might like to start running an informal competition. This might take the form of all-play-all tournaments which can be continued for several weeks. With a large class you could split the class into groups of, say, 10 or 12 students, based on your assessment of their playing strength. An alternative is to run a chess ladder.

You might like to continue to insist that all the games start with both players moving their e-pawns two squares as this is the best way for less experienced players to open their games. At the start of the games, watch any game in which White goes for Scholar’s Mate and see what happens. Ask the players to raise their hands if they’ve played a fork or a skewer. Again, check that they have understood the concepts correctly and created a double threat rather than just a double attack.


Start by asking the children to define a skewer. Ask the difference between a skewer and a fork, and which pieces can use a skewer (queen, bishop, rook).

Now set up this position on the demo board, and ask the students to set it up on their boards as well. Explain that this is an exercise in pattern recognition. Can they recognize a pattern they’ve seen before? You should also explain that you can win with king and rook against king – they’ll learn how to do this in a later lesson. Say that it’s White’s move and ask them what they would play and why. The correct answer is to move the rook from a8 to h8. Now, if Black takes the pawn White will move his rook to h7 with a skewer. Otherwise, White will promote his pawn. (Black could also check the white king but he will eventually approach the black rook.)

Now tell the students that this time it’s Black’s move in this position. What would you play now? The correct answer is to move the king to g7. The game will be a draw as long as the black king stays on either g7 or h7. If he moves to, say, f6, White can win by checking on f8 with his rook and then promoting the pawn. (Black can also draw by checking with his rook on a2, as long as he moves his king to g7 before the white king gets close enough to threaten the black rook.)

Assessment criteria

Successful completion of worksheets in which skewers have to be found. Where appropriate, the ability to look for and find skewers in their own games.

(c) Chess in Schools and Communities
reproduced with permission of Chess in Schools & Richard James

Rook and pawn Index


Richard James said...

Is this actually a hard copy document? If so, I've never seen one even though I apparently wrote it. I sent them a Word document, for which I was paid, and have since heard nothing else. Perhaps I should ask Malcolm or Nevil to send me a copy.

Tom Chivers said...

Very interesting and promising. I'm personally quite surprised by how guided, verbal, explainy the teaching is - do all kids learn best like this, out of curiosity?

Jonathan B said...

I was sent a PDF Richard which I printed out myself.

Richard James said...

OK thanks, Jon. Tom, the lesson format was based on material which was distributed to me at school about structuring a lesson. I'm pleased you seem to like it. Unfortunately I haven't been able to use the material myself as where I teach kids learn the moves at home from their parents before joining clubs, so want to play complete games straight away. I'll be starting a course for young beginners along these lines in at least one local school starting in September, though.