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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

11+ Tessellations

I wonder just how much correlation there is between learning to play chess at an early age and passing the 11+ examinations. Children learn about tessellations, for example, from very early days in the infant school. Tessellations certainly `come up’ on some 11+ papers. We too know that a tessellation is `the careful juxtaposition of shapes into a pattern'.

A knight steps one square horizontally or vertically and then two squares perpendicular to the previous part of the move. Place a knight on a chess board and tessellations will jump out at the onlooker.

Once the young chess prodigy has learnt the concept that a knight can ignore any pieces in its path then imagination and planning can be brought to the fore. A knight can jump directly to the destination square. The knight can rest on the destination square or it can capture an enemy piece. The knight can attack and defend - or it can brood in a corner and wait for events to unfold.

Imagine how the depth of interest in chess would grow if children were asked questions about possible outcomes of moves. An attraction to chess would stimulate a wealth of socially acceptable activities.

We know that while chess requires the ability to plan moves - it also needs the player to remember moves in attack and defence. The `Queens Pawn Opening Gambit’ is taught to all beginners in its execution and defence. Adult Education class throughout the country would gain unparalleled popularity as parents stream in to learn more about chess.

Verbal reasoning books would need to be rewritten.

Question 35 would read: `The king is under attack from the enemy knight. Checkmate is in store. Which squares can the king move to?'

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