Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: No Stress Chess

Our four year old loves to play chess. Yes, you heard us right...four. Is he some kind of prodigy? Nope. Don't get us wrong...our son is definitely very bright, and we claim our bragging rights as often as we can (doesn't every parent?). But, we don't think that Mensa is quite ready to extend an invitation to him yet. We do, however, give the folks at Winning Moves complete credit for our son's love of the classic strategic game with their wonderful edition of No Stress Chess.

Researchers have been studying the benefits of chess on children's reading, math and general cognitive skills for the past 30+ years. Children who play chess consistently outperform others in critical thinking, memory retention and verbal reasoning. In fact, the benefits are so significant, nearly 30 countries (such as Russia and Iceland) incorporate chess as part of public school curricula. We at The Daily Kool certainly think it should be a requirement (not a mere enrichment) here in America. When we were searching for a chess program for our older son a year ago (his school didn't offer it), we had difficulty finding one that was convenient and affordable. So, we decided to try to teach him at home...enter the No Stress Chess game.

The 52 action cards make No Stress Chess a unique approach to an often intimidating game. These cards provide instruction to help players learn the pieces and how they move...a perfect way to help a beginner get comfortable with the powers of each piece. Players are required to move their pieces based upon which card they draw...this really changes the game, and winning is mostly about luck...at least at the first level. The next card playing variation has each player drawing three cards at a time, so they can begin incorporating more strategy into their game. After these two levels are mastered, you can create even more, increasing the number of cards drawn for each (we went as high as seven)...until, your children are ready to take on regular play. The illustrated two-sided board that comes with the No Stress Chess game is another great feature. The starter side instructs players on piece placement, while the other is a traditional board. The pieces are pretty sturdy...the fact that they have survived our children so far says a lot.

There are so many great things to say about No Stress Chess, and for the $15 price tag, it is definitely worth the purchase. The innovative approach to a traditional favorite has been able to hold our children's interest in this classic game more than we ever would have expected. We were amazed at how quickly both of our children were able to graduate to regular play...now, chess has become a staple in The Daily Kool household, and No Stress Chess a popular birthday gift idea for our children's friends.

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