Chess is child’s play at the Hingham library
01/26/18: The Patriot Ledger
HINGHAM — Chess master Farzad Abdi told two young players he was instructing that they could have nine queens if they played the game right. The players both gasped, their eyes wide.
While they may have a while to go before they get that good, Abdi’s instruction has already helped kids in the Hingham Chess Club go from no knowledge of the game to being able to play a full game against each other.
“The effect that chess can have on children, it’s amazing,” Abdi said. “It can enrich someone’s life. It has affected me hugely.”
Abdi, a nationally ranked chess master from Rockland who has been playing for 32 years, teaches chess lessons two nights a week for the club, which meets at Hingham Public Library.
Kay Praschma, the mom who runs the club after starting it last year, did so because she wasn’t satisfied with the availability of chess programs on the South Shore.
“This club speaks to all age levels and skill levels,” she said.
At the club’s weekly meeting Thursday night, Abdi began by teaching a lesson for beginners, then the club held a half-hour of open play time before the intermediate lesson began. The club also offers a weekly lesson and open play for advanced players on Wednesday nights.
In the lessons, Abdi teaches a range of skills, from the roles of each different piece in the beginner class, to beginning strategy and the three phases of the game (opening, middlegame and endgame) for the intermediate players, to finally going deeper into advanced tactics for the students that are already experienced. He encourages the kids to speak up during lessons, praising them and giving high-fives when they get something right.
Roughly 20 kids participated in the chess club Thursday night, including Bobby Steele, 13, and Oliver McLucas, 9, of Hingham, who sat across from each other to play a game. Oliver said he has been playing since last year. Bobby said he started in second or third grade.
“There’s a lot of useful strategies that you never knew about ... there’s a lot to learn,” Oliver said. Both boys said they have improved their game greatly since joining the club.
Rachel Giarrizzo of Rockland, whose daughter, Alyssa, 8, began playing against her father last year and fell in love with the game, agreed that Abdi’s teaching has helped her daughter greatly.
“She literally takes what she learns from the chess master and uses it against my husband the next time they play,” Giarrizzo said. “She’s getting harder to beat.”
Praschma said the club has grown a lot since it began a year ago, and this month is the first time they have been able to offer an intermediate class. She said that they have also had some interest from adults, and even had two or three adult players attend last week.
Abdi, who has taught chess lessons for years, said he finds it very rewarding.
“I actually enjoy the process of seeing people improve,” he said.