Home Page arrow Chess Life Online arrow Archives arrow The 7-year-old variation
The 7-year-old variation Print E-mail
By GM Joel Benjamin   
December 4, 2007
Hi Joel,
    I am teaching my 7-year-old Grandson how to play Chess. He is not all too familiar with moving the pieces yet, I see him maybe once a week or so, but in school he has joined a chess class so that will be a big help.  I understand that they play 5 min. games, which is very fast to me, but maybe it’s a quicker way to learn the moves.
      I showed him the first 7 moves of the King Indian Attack so that he would have something to start with (these young kids can sure absorb things quick)  What would be good from him to  use as Black?


I think there is risk in “programming” a player with opening moves.  You want your grandson to try to play good moves, not moves he is supposed to play.  I don’t think the King’s Indian Attack is such a great idea.  With proper execution, he won’t get checkmated in the first ten moves…but he won’t checkmate his opponent either.

If he is in a class, they surely will teach him basic opening principles, which is really more important than opening sequences (and if the teacher is explaining 1.e4, your openings may confuse the boy or undercut the class lessons).  Most children start by learning classical chess—occupying the center, developing pieces to active squares, castling quickly, etc.  I don’t like children using the four-move checkmate as a weapon for too long, but I insist they know how to stop it!  Then they appreciate how pieces can be powerful when working together, and how paying attention to your opponent’s plans can help you win a game.

It would be best to find out what he is learning and supplement that instruction.  The boy needs to learn and develop skills.  Helping him practice basic checkmates like queen & king v. king would be useful.  Children appreciate chess in very different ways from adults, so you would do well to get a beginner’s book for children and use that to work with him.

As for the five-minute games, it is a bit unusual to introduce clocks to beginners (seven year olds have no sense of time; they usually bang out their moves as fast as possible when you put a clock on them).  But without a clock, most young beginners will make their moves at a faster rate than you would in a five-minute game, if you don’t tell them to slow down.